Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

B Raman, "Security & development in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency strategies," Raman's Strategic Analysis, June 3, 2009.

[Raman's perfect English is a reminder that India, like Pakistan and Afghanistan, is a post-colonial remnant of the British Empire. This group includes Nigeria and Zimbabwe as well as Hong Kong and Singapore, Australia and Canada. We are a mixed bag.

Raman documents India's serious and multi-dimensional problem with terrorism. -jlt]

India faces three kinds of terrorism ---the indigenous by some sections of our own people, the foreign sponsored and the foreign-aided. The indigenous terrorism itself has different motives----political and religious as in the case of the terrorist groups in Jammu & Kashmir, purely religious as in the case of the jihadi terrorist groups operating outside J&K, ethnic as in the case of Assam and ideological and economic as in the case of the Maoist or Naxalite groups operating in the tribal belt of Central India. is important to prevent the flow of new recruits to the terrorist organizations. This can be done only by identifying the causes of anger in the community and addressing them.

2. Foreign-sponsored terrorism is mainly due to jihadi organizations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI ) and the Jaish-eMohammad (JEM) operating from Pakistani territory and the HUJI operating from Bangladesh. Their members are Pakistani or Bangladeshi nationals or other foreign Muslims and their activities in the Indian territory are sponsored by the intelligence agencies of these countries in order to serve their own purpose. The intelligence agencies of Pakistan and Bangladesh have a common purpose of creating a polarization between the Muslim and Hindu communities in India. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has the additional purpose of forcing a change in the status quo in J&K through terrorism.

[A sentence that begins, "There is only one way..." is a red flag. So when he says, "There is only one way of dealing with foreign-sponsored terrorist groups," I notice that he goes on to say, "There are two methods of dealing with foreign-sponsored terrorists" just three sentences down in the same paragraph. Is it all semantics and PR? I don't think so. A double-standard is also at work.

A sentence that begins, "There is only one way..." is all the more urgently a red flag when I happen to agree with it: -jlt]

  Active defence refers to our right to take our counter-terrorism operations to the territories of Pakistan and Bangladesh in order to pre-empt their plans for a terrorist strike in our territory.

[But Raman has a double- or even triple-standard when it comes to dealing with foreigners. It's not just a matter of jurisdictions. While he recognizes that grievances, which have to be dealt with, are (categorically) at the heart of domestic or indigenous "terrorism," foreign-sponsored groups must be "neutralized...without mercy." That's justice and social work for citizens and scorched earth for foreigners.

The possibility that terrorists and their sponsors have grievances too--legitimate or not--is simply off the radar once there is a border to be crossed. Afghanistan has never agreed to the Durand line, and the legitimacy of boundaries is in dispute in Kashmir-Jammu. Until recently, Pakistan has campaigned against the Taliban in a manner that is consistent with what Raman proposes for indigenous terrorists.

He advocates pre-emptive (what Chomsky calls "preventive) war of the type announced in George Bush's National Security Strategy of September 2002. Chomsky and others argue that preventive or pre-emptive war is "aggression plain and simple."

It should be noted that the negotiations leading up to the Rome Statute which created the International Criminal Court could not agree on a definition of "aggression." Therefore, aggression, is not part of the Court's mandate even though it was denounced in the most unambiguous terms by the Nuremberg Courts.

While separate rules for citizens and for foreigners are commonplace, the discrepancy here suggests an inherent weakness in the nation-state system that actually puts obstacles in the way of a non-military approach to "terrorism" if it has a foreign component.

Ireland and Canada have had considerable success with a process that ultimately allows domestic "terrorist" groups a place at The Table. Seats in Parliament. Actual citizenship.

That doesn't mean foreign individuals and groups are lacking in legitimate cross-border or even pre-border grievances for adjudication, but rather that foreign nation-states are demonstrably not the agencies to do the job. Protecting their interests makes them incapable of delivering justice or in some instances even practical solutions. Having a military advantage, at least beyond a certain point, is a liability. War in Iraq. War in Afghanistan. Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank. Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. War in Vietnam. Wounded Knee. The Alamo. This is a list of some of the best recruiting campaigns for the "other" i.e., weaker, de-legitimized side.

Having a designated list of terrorist organizations seems to be part of that same nationalistic fault line. Terrorist organization lists are used to serve simplicity for the purpose of militaristic action and judicial punishment rather than the nuance and complexity of opening up the boundaries of legitimacy.

The word "terrorism" has more poetry than operational utility about it. That's what we mean when we repeat the canard "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." The meaning of the word depends on where you hang your hat and what your interests are. Other than that, you can write any definition you like for a law or a list, but it will only be useful to empower executive forces. It has no absolute or scientific or objective reality. And it may not reach into people's hearts which is where the core of the issue lies.

This debate is very active in Lebanon and in the Palestinian Occupied Territories of Samaria and Judea.

Any analysis that uses such an insistently ambiguous term at its core has more in common with a literary analysis of Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn" than it has with, say, Kepler's writings on the planetary orbits. -jlt]

Read Raman's whole analysis here =>
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