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ASYMMETRY OF CHANGE - Terrorism awareness & exploring the potential for stability in our changing world
February 26, 2008
FEARLESS LIFE – MISGUIDED DIPLOMACY: COWERING BEFORE THE BULLY (15:00)
The New War
The strategy of deception used by terrorist organizations has misguided many people to their death. The battleground changes but the enemy remains the same and so are and the lessons learned. It is time for the people of Gaza, Syria, Iran and Afghanistan to join the community of nations in the 21st Century.
My name is Alon Stivi and I have dedicated my life to protecting others and saving lives through education. You are listening to Fearless Life on Jerusalem Pulse Radio.
As post Cold War Americans, we conveniently subscribed to the implausible notion that we are unbeatable. We have become accustomed to having our defenses grounded in the principle of deterrence. Following the success of a three-decade long deterrence campaign against the Soviet Union, we assumed that this approach would work with everyone else. The fact of the matter is that radical terrorists are not readily deterred. The Soviets were a bureaucratic secular society. As misguided as their ideology was, they did not use the Russian people as suicide bombers. By contrast, the arch-enemies of tomorrow won’t “blink” like the Russian did, and we cannot stop them with the same threats Regan used on the Russians. Trying to scare an enemy that looks for “opportunities” to die does not work. The only “language” they cannot argue with is the actual and continuous use of force.
More Americans need to come to grip with the fact that we are fighting a different kind of war. This is not the Vietnam War, nor the Cold War. This is a war of attrition that is best fought away from the media spotlights, with the front lines being anywhere terrorists and their supporters hide. No matter what other nations choose to believe, we must remember that fighting terror is not a popularity contest. We should come to term with the fact that reconciliation through dialog or negotiation with radical terrorists is not a viable option. Attempts to negotiate or appease radicals will simply be perceived as a weakness and fuel their radical base. America, like Israel, did not choose the war on terror; it has been forced upon us. Therefore, we have no option other than remaining on the initiative and winning it – decisively.
Allow me to explain. The terrorists’ end-game is to frighten us so that we not only cower in fear, but are converted – that is, our fear produces a change in our attitudes and beliefs regarding the terrorists and their cause. Terror masterminds know that most people are risk averse. They know that most people are “uncomfortable” thinking about threatening issues and would choose the path of least resistance to avoid adversity, even if that means appeasing those who engender the risk.
The process of appeasement, whether overt or covert, occurs over time and follows a predictable pattern. When people are so intimidated and so fearful of being victims, their fear is transformed into an unconscious surrender. Their acceptance of the “change” in “reality” is followed by attempts to “understand” the perpetrator’s point of view. As Westerners, we apply Judeo-Christian values in our attempt to fit conflicts into our perception of reality. Accordingly, in order to feel justified in fighting those who wrong us, we impose scrutiny on ourselves with questions such as; “Maybe it’s our fault? Perhaps we brought the violence upon ourselves by our past actions? Do terrorists have “legitimate grievances” against us? Did our leaders mislead us to wage war for selfish purposes?” This simplistic approach ultimately fosters sympathy for the terrorists and can evolve into overt support for their cause (as is already happening in some parts of Europe and Asia).
Many of us also believe in establishing a “high moral ground” to “justify” any aggressive actions we take. We feel compelled to exhaust all other options before we resort to the use of force. As a result, the mantra of “peace and reconciliation through dialog” has become increasingly popular by many sectors of Western societies. This is likely to lead to misguided diplomacy in the form of dialog with terrorist-supporting nations like Iran, as an acceptable notion for decreasing risk of terrorist attacks. These elements of political correctness are being exploited by terrorist organization like Hamas. They know that in order to win they must make us weak from within. To do so they strive to create doubt and mistrust among us. We are made to feel guilty about our choice to fight them and to feel solely responsible for the inevitable consequences that go with any war. This is the reason why the U.S. and its allies, mainly Israel, are systematically accused of being, evil, imperialistic, racist, unjust and too aggressive. They use any and all available communications channels to vilify us and confuse our sense of right and wrong. They want to persuade us that we are wrong, which in turn makes us second guess and distrust our political and military leadership. This is a classic example of the complexity of Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW), a new kind of war that is fought in the streets as much as over the Internet and news media.
The fact of the matter is that appeasement always encourages violence. Everyone knows that. If you cower before a bully in an attempt to placate him, all you accomplish is to make him more confident, more demanding, more contemptuous of you – in other words, weakness transforms him into an even bigger and more dangerous bully. Islamic militants regard goodwill gestures and concessions as nothing more than weakness and an irresistible invitation to take advantage and do more of the same.
The fundamental doctrine guiding terrorists in there propaganda effort is the strategy of deception. In order to succeed they attempt to mask sinister intentions with good impression. To do so they attach themselves to what would appear to be a “righteous cause”. Positioning themselves in this light make both socioeconomic and ideological sense to them. The true is that they need such a “cause” to excuse their own existence. This deception strategy is not new. Hitler used it to excite the masses and support his claim to be the savior of “German Pride” while Stalin used it in the same manner in claiming to save “Mother Russia”. Our world has no shortage of people who would claim that they need to be “saved”. In the same manner, non-state actors like Hamas and Hezbollah, or rogue states like Iran and Syria represents themselves as “saviors” of the so called Palestinians People. Fighting for the “Palestinian Cause” has been the “Raison D’etre” for Hamas just like fighting for the “Lebanese Cause” has been the excuse used by Hezbollah. It is self serving as much as it is misleading.
What Hamas is doing to the people of Gaza now days is basically the same thing that Hezbollah has been doing to the Lebanese people. The atmosphere of fear that exists in Gaza today is the same as the one instilled by Hezbollah in Lebanon since the early eighties. As a combat soldier in the Israeli Defense Force who fought in Lebanon in 1982, I learned first hand the challenges facing an army fighting terrorism in a densely populated urban environment. I saw the devastating effects of suicide bombing and more importantly the demoralizing impact on young soldiers being forced to engage terrorists using the local population as human shields. I have seen first hand the mayhem and on-going destruction of the state of Lebanon and the terrorization and torture of its people with unspeakable acts of violence including rape, kidnapping, and mass murder by the members of the various terrorist organizations.
We have no indicators to suggest that today’s terrorists’ plans for Afghanistan or Gaza are any different then what they did in Lebanon. The tactics and weapons used in Iraq by insurgents trained by veteran Hezbollah instructors are the same as the one used against the IDF in Lebanon and funded, as they were back then, by the Iran. The hostile take over of Gaza by Hamas in the so called election, and the consequent rocket bombardment campaign against Southern Israel is the same tactics used by Hezbollah a few years ago to rocket Northern Israel, killing and injuring numerous innocent lives on the orders from Teheran. Today’s terrorists are more organized and coordinated then ever before. They share intelligence, tactics, weapons and planning. They are also abandoning, or at least putting on hold, religious and ideological differences and joining their forces under the banner of global Jihad.
It is evident that Hamas has become the most powerful organization in Gaza; it is deeply entrenched in society. There is also no doubt that Hamas’ reckless rocketing of populated Israeli towns, as well as its hateful rhetoric, only harms the people of Gaza. If we could talk to individuals living in Gaza, while assuring their anonymity, they would tell us that they do not really care for Jihad or the fanatic agenda of Hamas. All they really want to do have a peaceful life with their family. Raise their children, make money, and develop a better future. Yet, they will never say this to anyone for the fear of being labeled as traitors, and having their family tortured and murdered by Hamas. The people of Gaza, like the people of Southern Lebanon, live in a “terror state”, controlled by fear and violence. They are not to blame for the latest escalation. The ruthless terrorists that oppress them are. The children of Gaza are being coerced from an early age by the Hamas propaganda machine to hate Jews and Americans. They are conditioned through a convoluted “education” system run by Hamas to believe that they are growing to be martyrs in the fight against a “Zionist occupation”. The children of Gaza are victims caught in the crossfire between Freedom and Fear. It is becoming increasingly evident to Arabs and non-Arabs alike that instead of fighting the so called Israeli occupation the people of Gaza would be much better off fighting the Hamas oppression.
The war between Hamas and Israel is over for now. Israel won. If Hamas is truly independent from Iran and really represent the best interests of the people of Gaza, it should immediately announce that it recognizes Israel’s existence, release Sgt. Gilad Shalit from his three years captivity and stop the rocket shelling of Shderot and Ashkelon. Instead of digging tunnels to smuggle more weapons, Hamas has the power to secure a future for the children of Gaza by making a fundamental change that will lead to a peaceful coexistence.
Indeed, there are indicators that there may be a light at the end of those tunnels. Former Mossad Chief, Ephraim Halevy, who also served as Ariel Sharon’s national security advisor thinks that the Hamas leadership is undergoing a transformation by recognizing that its ideological goals are not attainable. Last year, some Hamas moderates have called for a “tahadia” (a minor truce) or a “hudna” (a long-term truce). They openly justify their apparent policy shift as an act of self preservation so that “the people of Gaza do not disown them”. It seems that at least some inside Hamas are realizing that their bankrupt ideology will lead them no where.
Most people in the world have already understood that, at its core, this war is not about land, oil, or even religion – it is about civility. It is about the survival of a free civilized world that believes in a “live and let live” versus those who believe in “our way or die”, peaceful coexistence versus oppressive domination. The fight against terror, whether it is in the streets of New York, Baghdad or Gaza, is just like our fight against the spread of infectious diseases – the outcome will impact the future of all children of every nation on Earth, no one is neutral, and we have no alternative but winning.
Terrorism did not start yesterday and nor will it end tomorrow. Yet, there is no reason to despair. Terrorism will come to an end. This is inevitable because fear is self destructive. It is in contrast to the human natural state of being. The human spirit cannot strive under oppression and the fearful always revolt against those who terrorize them. This has been evident throughout history. Americans, Iraqis, Lebanese, Chinese, French, Israelis or Russians, we were all born to be free. The ideals of liberty always prevail. The more fear that terrorists and dictators attempt to promulgate in our hearts, the more courage and resilience will grow. Eventually, the attempts to use fear will be the demise of terrorism itself. We simply need to continue to oppose it.
I will leave you with the famous quote from Thomas John Stuart Mill –
“War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decay and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worst. A man who nothing for which he is willing to fight; nothing he cares about more than his own personal safety; is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”
My name is Alon Stivi and you have been listening to Fearless Life on Jerusalem Pulse Radio.