Tuesday, November 15, 2005

War on Unsustainablity

More debate on the Open Democracy Discussion forum David Thompson is well read in Islamic fundamentalism.

In your first post on this thread you conclude,
There are, of course, other, more legitimate grievances that need to be addressed, and a successful resolution may diminish wider support for extremists and sociopaths.

That is exactly my point. I agree with you that there is no scope for persuading or "appeasing" the Islamists, because they are fundamentalists, and therefore immune to reason, since they start from a different axiomatic basis from the rest of humanity. The only fruitful response to them is to try to arrest them through intelligence and police action. The "War on Terror" is just a hindrance to this objective, since it alienates the mainstream body of muslim opinion, and therefore deprives us of intelligence (in more than one sense, look you).

The analogy we can make is with the IRA. There was little point in trying to negotiate with the IRA leadership, because they had one objective, a united Ireland (although such direct negotiations may have taken place in secret, just as they are probably taking place in secret with Al-Qaeda). However, the British Government has concluded a difficult and imperfect peace negotiation with Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, to the benefit of the majority, in that the IRA are no longer carrying out their bombings.

Yes, there are differences, but there are also similarities. The Orangemen are steeped in their study of IRA ideology, which is totally inimical to their Orange world view, and they feel strongly about the grief caused by IRA atrocities, while being at the same time blind to the grief caused by loyalist atrocities. This is a simple psychological fact of life for humans engaged in conflict. It should be noted as a problem, but policy for the nation cannot and must not be dictated by the actions and reactions of the extremist factions. Statesmen have to rise above the perceptions of the extremists and take action to achieve the best outcome for the community as a whole.

Yes, the ideology of Osama regarding the ultimate dominance of Islam throughout the world is a totalist fantasy, and there is no point in dreaming of negotiating with him about that. But look: he also calls for the end of U.S. support for the oppression of Muslims by Russia
would we also not like to see an end to the horrendous war in Chechnya?
the end of U.S. protection for repressive, apostate regimes in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, et cetera;
Would we not also like to see democracy implemented in those countries? Even the US State Department has made similar noises. Of course, OBL does not want to see democracy there: he wishes for Islamist repression in those countries. The sooner we can bring about democracy instead of autocracy in those states, the smaller the chance that Osama's wishes there will be met.

There is an important common ground between the US and the dissident, anti-war lobby, on the desirability of extending democracy worldwide. The difference is about methods. Bush thinks democracy comes out of the barrel of a gun. I believe democracy can be facilitated through an
Index of Human Rights in the UN.

the conservation of the Muslim world's energy resources and their sale at higher prices.
Is this not a reasonable aim? Islamists are achieving their aims by blowing up pipelines, causing pollution and waste - and denying Iraqi citizens reliable supplies of power. Rational governance would bring about a progressive transition (using such instruments as Contraction and Convergence ) to renewable energy resources - with which, incidentally, Arab countries are well-endowed.

Instead of the "War on Terror" we need a "War" (for which read an intensive, focussed effort in which the availability of money is not a limiting factor) on Unsustainablilty - for which read ecological and economic catastrophe in the not-too-distant future.

The collateral effect of the War on Unsustainability is the creation of millions of useful, worthwhile jobs world wide; a diversion of attention and effort away from a sense of grievance, and towards doing something practical and direct in providing food, water, shelter, clean energy and safe waste disposal for families and communities everywhere; and a new sense of unity and solidarity between individuals and nations arising from a sense of co-operation in a great common cause against a common enemy (said ecological and economic collapse).

Remember that David King, the UK government's Chief scientific officer, no wishy washy liberal leftie he, has declared that global warming is a greater threat to humanity than terrorism.

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