Sunday, November 13, 2011

Countering Terrorism With Violence

On the next day after the US military killed the head of Al-Qaida, Osama Bin Laden, US President Barack Obama claimed that it was a beautiful day for the United States and the world will become safer following the death of Osama. This US military attack against Osama reminds us of the movie "Wag the Dog". In the movie, the US president was plagued by a sex scandal before the presidential election. His aide found a Hollywood director Stanley Motss to "produce" a fake news about a battle against international terrorists. With the help of the computer-generated virtual images, they successfully created the sufferings of the US troops and people and the victimized civilians.
Post-Osama Scenario
The righteous image of the US president in combating terrorism became so rightful, glorious and larger than life. Amid the wave the patriotism, they successfully diverted people's attention from the sex scandal and the US president won his second term.
Some opine that Osama's death will help raise Obama's popularity in his bid of seeking reelection. But we have our reservation about this view. If Al-Qaida fights back all out and launches a series of terrorist attacks around the United States after Osama's death. Obama and the Americans will be the biggest victims then. Undoubtedly, Obama's successful bid to kill Osama has catered the psychological needs of the US people who face the threat of terrorism. He has become a defender of the people and brought great relief to the terrified American people.
Nevertheless, there are still things for us to ponder over in the ensuing development of this incident. First of all, the terrorist attacks in the post-Osama era will become more frequent and more unpredictable. In the 1970s, the so-called terrorism was very much politics-oriented and was set against a background of the confrontation between the Eastern and Western blocks. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Palestinian terrorist groups in Middle East are examples of such movement. Though detestable, they had taken their actions based on the notion of national self-determination. For instance, the tragedy during the Munich Olympic Games. Amidst the strong condemnation from all over the international community, voices of their sympathizers were also heard. At least, most of the Third World countries sympathized them. At that time, it was not difficult to find learned and knowledgeable figures within terrorist groups. They were persistent in pursuing their ideals and had their own self-perceived righteous goals. They believed they were noble-minded fighters for ideals who were willing to sacrifice their own reputation or even their lives. Nevertheless, today, the terrorist activities have not only experienced changes in terms of quantity, but also quality. The size of their groups has shrunk while their righteous goals have also gone.
Hostility Against West
More specifically, the new terrorists in the post-Osama era will not limit themselves to hostility against the West and the confrontation of religious values; instead, it is more difficult to comprehend their conviction and to predict their actions. From a more superficial perspective, the potential factors leading to terrorism could be the unequal distribution of wealth, grudges against the West for controlling the international economy, and internal strife and conflicts between religious sects. Most people more or less have this kind of underlying frustration. But for some radical elements who harbor grave resentment and hatred, their jealousy and desire for vengeance are easily triggered by external factors. Therefore, it is not surprising to see them resorting to brutal actions against a government or certain class in the society and having no care for innocent lives, simply to vent their frustration. For this reason, to totally uproot the danger and threat of terrorism to the human society, the permanent solution is to eliminate the injustice in various political and economic aspects.
Second, there are many ways of dealing with terrorism. But we are afraid that the effect of countering Islamic terrorists with violence may be limited. After Osama was killed, some have posted messages that they will seek revenge to some radical forums on the Internet. This is an alert. At the same time, the US government has also issued a worldwide travel alert to its citizens. This shows that Whitehouse is also vigilant that Al-Qaida will fight back in full force. From the religious perspective of the followers of Islamic fundamentalism, an international terrorist attack is still deemed as a righteous Jihad dedicated to God. It is a battle between the justice and the evil. But from the perspective of the American value (represented by Obama), the Islamic world may symbolize close-mindedness, backwardness, mystery and evil. Hence, the theory of the clash of two civilizations. As the two sides insist on their beliefs and confront each other with terrorism and crackdown, it is probable that there will be more conflicts in the future. Judging from what we have witnessed in the past 10 years, it is indeed true that the more they try to counter terrorism, the more severe terrorism will get.
Third, Osama was bombed dead close to the Pakistan Military Academy but the United States had not informed Pakistan in advance. This may complicate the US-Pakistan relations and stir the sensitivity of the Islamic world. The Islamic world has kept silence on this incident so far, even Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which have been holding a mild stance, have not made any statement yet. Perhaps a collective anti-US movement is poising for take-off. Meanwhile, will the radical Iran and Syria provide supports to more terrorist activities in secret? In other words, will the United States' bid to counter violence with violence effectively crack down terrorism? Or, will it intensify the antagonism? This is probably an issue that Obama and the US public must address.

No comments: