Friday, January 26, 2007

There is no war on terror

Finally someone who talks sense in the hunt for terrorists. Terrorists are criminals not enemy combatants.
The director of public prosecutions in England denys that Britain is caught up in a "war on terror" and wants legislative restraint in passing laws to deal with terrorism. This is great and we should have more people talking like that, another good quote is "The fight against terrorism on the streets of Britain is not a war. It is the prevention of crime, the enforcement of our laws and the winning of justice for those damaged by their infringement." There are more good quotes in the article so read it. The US new heat beam (Norwegian link) weapon is not the right way to fight them.

In security always look beyond the obvious problem and try to analyse what we are really protecting against. The politicians talk about freeing us from terrorists, but what is a terrorist?

Definitions of a terrorist/terrorism: has this definition for terrorism: "The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons."
Wikipedia talks about the definitions of terrorism, there where 109 definitions when the US army counted them in 1988, and ultimately it is a political judgement. That means that in the end it is up to politicians find out who is the terrorist and who is not.

So how do you protect agings terrorists, well the best way is crime prevention and treating people with dignity, not locking people up and treating them as scum. Giving people a fair trial is also better than shipping them off to some island without any legislative oversight. If people can see that the system works and they can pursue their goals through legislative means with some measure of success, they will use that avenue to vent their grievances. If this avenue is closed then people will use other ways to get heard.

For success stories look at how the IRA and EPA have been brought to the negotiating table and made to put their arms down. In contrast look at how we are now handling the mess in Iraq.
On the other hand if a politician today can get a law passed calling for harsher penalties just by slapping the sticker terrorist on it, then they will use that word for all it is worth. Ultimately security is a game of power. Who has resources and power and who has not, and how is the power distributed. Look at the big picture of what is happening in the world today and see it as a power struggle. Who has power, how are they using it and to which goals are they trying to achieve.

The next time someone tells you that they have done something to increase security, ask yourself what they are really trying to protect. Maybe it is not your security they have increased. Do not take their promise of increased security as blind faith, but rather view the world through paranoid eyes.


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