Tuesday, October 07, 2008

More on Ayers/Dohrn

Interesting and co-incidental post from Schneier on terrorists.

Conventional wisdom holds that terrorism is inherently political, and that people become terrorists for political reasons. This is the "strategic" model of terrorism, and it's basically an economic model...

...If you believe this model, the way to fight terrorism is to change that equation, and that's what most experts advocate. Governments tend to minimize the political gains of terrorism through a no-concessions policy; the international community tends to recommend reducing the political grievances of terrorists via appeasement, in hopes of getting them to renounce violence. Both advocate policies to provide effective nonviolent alternatives, like free elections.

But there's bad news:

Historically, none of these solutions has worked with any regularity

Woopsie! So somebody thought about it and has a new theory.

Max Abrahms, a predoctoral fellow at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation, has studied dozens of terrorist groups from all over the world. He argues that the model is wrong.

Terrorists, he writes, (1) attack civilians, a policy that has a lousy track record of convincing those civilians to give the terrorists what they want; (2) treat terrorism as a first resort, not a last resort, failing to embrace nonviolent alternatives like elections; (3) don't compromise with their target country, even when those compromises are in their best interest politically; (4) have protean political platforms, which regularly, and sometimes radically, change; (5) often engage in anonymous attacks, which precludes the target countries making political concessions to them; (6) regularly attack other terrorist groups with the same political platform; and (7) resist disbanding, even when they consistently fail to achieve their political objectives or when their stated political objectives have been achieved.

So what?

Abrahms has an alternative model to explain all this: People turn to terrorism for social solidarity. He theorizes that people join terrorist organizations worldwide in order to be part of a community, much like the reason inner-city youths join gangs in the United States

Individuals who join terrorist groups are frequently not oppressed in any way, and often can't describe the political goals of their organizations. People who join terrorist groups most often have friends or relatives who are members of the group, and the great majority of terrorist are socially isolated: unmarried young men or widowed women who weren't working prior to joining. These things are true for members of terrorist groups as diverse as the IRA and al-Qaida

A lot of which applied to Ayers/Dohrn, if you look at the bios.

They might not be effective politically, but they are effective socially: They all help preserve the group's existence and cohesion

One suggested remedy: split the terrorists from each other with disparate-sentencing techniques.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Many 'terrorists' are also forcibly recruited by the press gangs of their so-called liberators (FARC, child soldiers in Africa) and radicalized later. Recruits are often controlled by drugs or Stockholm syndrome. Also, targeting of mental unstable individuals for use in attacks, particularly suicide bombings. In the middle east, recruiters from terrorist groups just hang out around government mental hospitals waiting for releases to grab and put to work. Ah, liberation movements! Worse than the oppressors they are trying to overthrow since.....well, pretty much for ever!