So, British Prime Minister Theresa May has announced her own “War on Terrorism”. Two days after the attack on the Ariana Grande concert, we hear that the British Prime Minister has decided that Britain has its own “War on Terrorism” to wage.
My immediate reaction was, how is this going to help? If it goes the way of the American “War on Terror”, it is going end in disaster.
There is so much western Governments do not understand about terrorism, or they do understand it, but their desire to look tough in the face of danger means they break every rule in the book.
One of the most irksome is terrorists want mass media coverage, notoriety, glory – call what you may – and we hand it to them in gigabytes. We rush to cover their attention grabbing acts, to hear the politicians vow to get tough, to slam through poorly thought out knee jerk laws. In this deeply interconnected world, where an e-mail or text message can travel around the world in a matter of seconds, where I can post things on Facebook and my brothers American in-laws will see it almost immediately, it is impossible to get away from the coverage.
Yes it is dreadful. Yes we should be shocked that totally innocent people were killed and maimed, but it is time to take a stand and ask where are we going wrong – why is this not only happening, but getting more and more frequent? The commonest answers “because they hate us” are grotesquely oversimplified. Without writing a PhD on the causes of terrorism though, it is brazenly obvious that the western approach is failing or has failed. So let us have a look at why.
Those laws, those fearful reactions, that horror is precisely what the terrorists want. They want to create a climate of fear and the Government – not just the U.S. and British Governments – are rushing blindly into the trap.
Another is a complete, abject and possibly quite deliberate failure to report critically on the War on Terrorism. There is a shocking tendency to use vague generic language – I mean how often have you heard “A top/key/senior al-Qaida commander has been killed by a __________ in _________”. The vagaries are to lull the public into a false sense of progress being made; a false sense of this can be won”.
The media are supposed to be the ally of free people. They are supposed to critique the Government, report big stories such as inappropriate use of tax payer money, perjury, dodgy weapons deals such as the one between Donald Trump’s administration and Saudi Arabia and so on.
The third is the public rush to believe uncritically the politicians who espouse toughness against terrorism; who ram laws through like a medieval battering ram. We cannot win when the public cannot have a say on the very laws that are supposed to protect them (“We the people” and all that, America…).
Well, yes it can be won, but it sure ain’t gonna be won by waging aggressive wars in foreign lands your governments and the military establishments under their command know nothing about – and probably care even less.
The real ways to beat terrorism are not sexy, for the most part do not need cluster bombs, cruise missiles, or ground invasions. It certainly does not need regimes that care not a jot about humanity to be propped up by the supposed leaders of the free world, or for the clock to be continually banging past thirteen as George Orwell spins in his grave, realizing 1984 has become a manual of some grotesque sort.
The west can beat terrorism, but we are going 180º in the opposite direction to that which we should be going.