The War on Terror – Could we possibly try a different approach?

You find a good deal of unadulterated donkey droppings in most of the mainstream media these days on the (in their view at least) related topics of terrorism, Islam and the Middle East. So it was with feelings of surprise and relief that I chanced upon a balanced and insightful piece in our very own New Zealand Herald, beloved daily rag of my hometown Auckland.

asymmetric-by-ted-rallRichard Jackson, deputy director at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago (nice to see that some universities manage to fund departments that probably don’t attract a huge amount of commercial sponsorship!), was speaking with a Herald reporter, Scott Yeoman. Mr Jackson said he was expecting more terrorist attacks on Europe and the rest of the world so long as world leaders continued to respond in the predictable and clearly unsuccessful ways they have been doing over the past fifteen years (and maybe longer). These responses include increasing security, intensifying military attacks on areas of the world where we think the terrorism is coming from, increasing restrictions on civil liberties, increased surveillance and the targeting of Muslim communities, and the introduction of “draconian” legislation’‘the only thing that has achieved,’ he said, ‘is more terrorism.’

Well, it’s not an original observation, but good on Richard Jackson for doing his best to keep the message out there in the public eye. We don’t hear so much these days about asymmetrical warfare – but it’s a concept we would do well to keep in mind. It’s fine and dandy for American Presidents to sound off about the cowardly nature of terrorist attacks – but when those presidents have the technology and the shameless gall to assassinate foreign citizens in their own countries without declaring war; and bombing those countries back to the Stone Age if they dare to object, it’s pretty clear that face-to-face combat in the traditional sense is only going to have one result. Check out what happened to Iraq after George Dubya’s ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ in 2003 if you have any doubts.

Despite George the Son’s continued belief in the righteousness of his nation’s actions, there are undoubtedly Iraqi citizens who believe just as strongly that they have grounds for taking revenge. Possibly some Afghans too, one or two Iranians and Palestinians, possibly a few Egyptians . . . who knows? They may even feel strongly enough to wrap some explosives around their waist and blow themselves to a better world, taking a few others with them. Even if we can’t see the logic in such actions, we should attempt to understand the desperation that drives human beings to such extreme measures. You may remember that the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ got under way in December 2010 when a young man in Tunisia torched himself in protest at his country’s dictatorial government. I can’t imagine the anger, frustration and helplessness that drove 26 year-old Muhamed Bouazizi to immolate himself in public – and I hope to God I never have to find out.

Asymmetrical-WarfareWhy should we try to understand these people? Simply because, as Richard Jackson points out in the interview, it is extremely difficult to defend against attack by a human bomb, who doesn’t care if he/she lives or dies.

Sad to say, the overwhelming signals we get on mainstream news media, and from Presidential hopefuls in the lead-up to the US election later this year is that the message is not getting through. I’m not going to waste words addressing the mindless outpourings of billionaire Donald Trump. Even Republican Party members in the USA seem to be having doubts about the wisdom of turning him loose in the Oval Office.


I’m warnin’ that Ayatollah Khomeini!

But who’s Number Two for the GOP? I was astounded to read reports of a speech by Ted Cruz where he asserted that, as president, he would rip up the Iran nuclear deal ‘on day one’. ‘Hear my words Ayatollah Khomeini,’ he is reported as saying, ‘if I am president and Iran launches a missile test, we will shoot that missile down.’ Now that’s scary! Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the Shah’s government, actually departed this world in 1984. Admittedly his replacement, Sayyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei, has a surname that, to the ordinary culturally-deprived US citizen, may look confusingly similar – but political hopefuls aspiring to leadership of the free world have had 32 years to sort out the difference. After all, we lesser mortals are expected to distinguish between Teddy and Franklin D Roosevelt; not to mention the George Bushes, father and son. How difficult is it? At least those Iranian guys have plenty of other first names, and we don’t have to focus on a ‘Dubya’. Thank heavens Hillary Clinton is a woman, or we’d have serious problems.

While we’re on the subject of Iran, I see in the news that a young citizen of the world, Reza Zarrab, has been arrested in the United States on charges related to the evasion of US sanctions against that country. The actual charges specify money-laundering and bank fraud – but there can be little doubt about the real reason the US government is pursuing yet another foreign national (think Julian Assange, Kim Dotcom).


So, whose criminal is he, exactly?

Interestingly, anti-government fanatics in Turkey have apparently taken to their beloved social media offering rewards to the American judge who refused bail to Mr Zarrab. Well, it’s not easy to find out what’s actually going on in the world these days, if it ever was, with all the conflicting stories. Certain background information, however, seems to me necessary for an understanding of this business. First, those trade sanctions were imposed in 1979 after an Islamic revolution overthrew the government of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who had been re-installed 27 years earlier by a CIA-sponsored coup d’état. Oil-poor, NATO stalwart Turkey especially suffered economically from those sanctions, which they had loyally and selflessly supported for 30 years. There have been suggestions that Turkey’s AK Party government was involved in shady dealings with Mr Zarrab – but of course, if those dealings were aimed at evading morally questionable US trade sanctions, they would, of necessity, have been conducted out of the public eye – and would have required transactions in some medium other than US dollars.

Julian Assange extradition

Wonder if the US administration has considered a drone strike to take him out

Well, I have neither the time not the interest to pursue further the case of Mr Zarrab. I would like to turn briefly, however, to another surprising news item: the announcement by Russian President Putin that he would be withdrawing his military forces from Syria. Russian planes have been bombing the bejabers out of Syrian opposition troops that have been waging a civil war for five years against President-for-Life, Bashar al Assad. Now, I have mixed feelings about Vladimir Putin – but you can’t deny that the guy does what he thinks best for his country. In this case, he apparently felt the need to make a point that no one has the right to overthrow a country’s government other than the citizens of that country themselves – and it’s hard to dispute that, whatever arguments United States administrations may advance to the contrary. You assassinate Saddam Hussein, and what do you get in his place?

But I began with the subject of terrorism, and to that subject I wish to return. Another rumour the anti-government gossip-mongers in Turkey have been putting about lately is that Mr Erdoğan and his people are somehow working with the terrorists. They claim that they knew about the recent bombing in Ankara, but did nothing to prevent it. Which begs the obvious question: why would a democratically elected government connive in the murder of its own innocent citizens? I know some Americans believe George W Bush was behind the 9/11 attacks – but can he really have been that evil? In fact, it seems that Turkish police were expecting an attack on the Prime Ministerial HQ in Ankara, and turned back a suspicious-looking vehicle – whereupon the occupants decided to cut their losses and detonate. More plausible, at least to anyone not totally committed to blackening the AK Party government.

More interesting, it seems to me, is the news that two cabinet ministers in the Belgian government offered their resignations after it was announced that Turkey had arrested and deported a DAESH militant who turns out to have been one of the suicide bombers involved the March 22 attacks. Turkey had done its job, as requested by EU countries, to turn back militants trying to cross into Syria. They had returned Brahim El Bakraoui to his country of origin, with a warning that he was a militant, and apparently he had also ‘broken terms of his parole from a nine-year sentence for armed robbery’. In spite of Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens’ admission that ‘we missed it’, his boss, Prime Minister Charles Michel, has decided not to accept the resignations.

I would have thought that, in the circumstances, ordinary Belgians would be baying for the resignation of PM Michel – but on the contrary, it seems that everyone is full of sympathy. Not much sympathy for Turkey, however, I gather. The tourism sector has already been hard-hit by Russia’s decision to keep its citizens at home in their frozen wasteland rather than allow them to take their customary shopping trips to Istanbul, or sunshine breaks on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast; and European warnings that Turkey is now a dangerous place for its citizens to visit.

Not only tourists, it seems. On Wednesday the Dutch government announced that it was ‘temporarily’ closing its consulate-general in Istanbul because of a ‘possible terror threat’. Well, pardon me for saying, I think that’s pretty pathetic! I would expect high-level foreign diplomats to show a little more backbone – especially when nothing’s actually happened to them yet. Turkey’s own diplomatic HQs abroad were targeted in a sustained campaign of terror by Armenian fanatics in the 1970s and 80s – but as far as I know the Turks toughed it out, and kept their offices open.


Nice place! Wonder what they do there all day?

Still the Dutch are following a precedent set by the Brits in the early years of the millennium. After a couple of bombings in Istanbul in 2003, in which their own consul-general was unfortunately killed, the Brits built an impenetrable wall around their palatial consulate, and permanently ceased carrying out any of the normally expected consular services: visa issue, passport renewal, etc. I’m curious to know what they do there these days. The British Council, purveyors of English language teaching to benighted heathen the world over, also closed their Turkish operation in sympathy, leaving the Turks to get on with the job in their own inimitable fashion.

Well, at least the Turks retain their sense of humour. A couple of local newspapers, possibly in retaliation, advised their readers, I assume with tongue in cheek, ‘Don’t go to Europe’. But as far as I am aware, Turkey’s embassy in Brussels remains open for business.


13 thoughts on “The War on Terror – Could we possibly try a different approach?

  1. On the subject of terrorism I agree with you Alan. It appears our governments only know how to “double down” and repeat the failed strategies of the past. It also appears that no one is allowed to ask “why” people blow themselves up – unless the answer is they are “evil” and have an evil ideology.

    I know it’s difficult for many people, but to me it’s worth the effort to put myself in the shoes of another and try to see things from his or her perspective. And when I do this, and imagine myself a Palestinian, an Iraqi or Iranian – or even a Libyan for that matter – I realise I would be an angry young man too.

    Western nations, with their smart bombs and other high tech weapons, love to call those who blow themselves up and kill innocent people “terrorists” – but it’s semantics. In my opinion, the bombing of Dresden was terrorism, as was the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima. If killing innocent people as a way of achieving political ends is terrorism, then such bombing by Western governments was surely terrorism as much as the modern day variety.

    I have a simple solution to the terrorism problem emanating from the Middle East – and that’s for Western governments (particularly the USA, UK and France) to stop meddling in their affairs, stop wars bent on regime change, stop covert actions to stir up trouble, and stop financing terrorists (yes, actually financing them!)

    If we just got the hell out of there and left them to their own devices, I believe we would see a sharp reduction in such terrorism. And if the USA, UK, France and other US vassal states also apologised for their past aggressions, even better.

  2. Strangely Alan, your blog arrived at the same time as Eugene sent me the pre IPO info about Droneco, a US business providing defences to drones. I agree with you on that point, but otherwise…A recent opinion in the Daily Telegraph pointed out it was a mistake to think these murderers are making political statements .”Terrorists”are ill. Especially those like the Muslims in Belgium have lots of choices to express themselves. Sadly they make poor choices. They get support from all who blame Western governments or businesses for any problem. The West are forces for stability, growth and human rights. Suicide bombers are like the mad old anarchists. Any intervention by the west is to do good especially to support good institutions. Not for their corrupt politicians personal benefit like Erdogan’s persecution of journalists and judiciary. Millions of middle eastern migrants are desperate for what the west has to offer–speaks for itself. It is mostly fanatics, youthful hotheads and the ill–empowered by globalization and technology. Read some history, it is age old behavior.

    • Thanks for putting the alternative point of view, Richard – though it’s the one we can read pretty much every day in the mainstream media. Richard Jackson does make a valid point too, though, don’t you think? The West may promote ‘stability, growth and human rights’ in their own backyards – though even that is debatable. Unfortunately imperial powers like the Brits and the USA have a history of propping up (or installing) puppet regimes elsewhere that have very little interest in human rights. It surely requires a large stretch of imagination to to see Western intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq (as two examples of many I could mention) as supporting good institutions. Was there any interest at all in producing any long-term benefit for the people of those countries? One could also point out that if it hadn’t been for Western intervention in the Middle East, there probably wouldn’t be so many ‘migrants’ (is that a deliberate euphemism?). And where are most of those ‘migrants’? A lot of the Syrians we see in Turkey are not impoverished no-hopers – many of them were professionals with good lives in their own country before the current hell broke loose. As for President Erdoğan, there are many in Turkey who see the AK Party government as the best thing that’s happened to the country since Atatürk – but the West didn’t like him much either at the time. Besides, there seem to a few citizens of Belgium who wish their government had taken Turkey’s recent warning more seriously. it’s always easy to criticise from a distance.

  3. “Which begs the obvious question: why would a democratically elected government connive in the murder of its own innocent citizens? I know some Americans believe George W Bush was behind the 9/11 attacks – but can he really have been that evil?”

    Alan, the sociopaths at the top of the food chain drop bombs on innocent men, women, and children the world over. They routinely and systemically destroy entire countries and civilizations. They disappear and torture people. They buy Nepalese children to use them as domestic slaves. Why would they suddenly be squeamish about killing some of their ‘own?’

    Now I don’t know if Erdogan and his cliques are in anyway involved in conducting false flag operations against the population of Trukey, but there is no question that governments do indeed resort to such acts of barbarism to tame a potentially recalcitrant citizenry.

    ‘Operation Gladio,’ to take but one example, is a case in point; indeed, it is a historically documented fact. See, for example, this short piece:

    “Boston, False Flags and the Strategy of Tension”

    You might also want to read this piece, a rather long and extensive list of historically documented false flags, including that of ‘Operation Cladio:’

    “False Flag Terror: Presidents, Prime Ministers, Congressmen, Generals, Spooks, Soldiers and Police Admit to it — Washington’s Blog | Global Research”

    I’m referencing these sources on the assumption that you’ve either never read them or are unfamiliar with the events they relate.

    To answer the question, then, as to whether or not a ‘democratically elected’ head of state could ever be “that evil,” the answer is most emphatically “yes.”

    • I checked out those two posts, Norman. Thanks for the links. For sure, false flag operations are commonly used – which makes it almost impossible for any of us to rally know what’s going on. I’ve been reading about the Gladio operations since being sent a link to ‘NATO’S Secret Armies’ by Daniele Ganser. It makes a lot of sense. There is also a book ‘The Brothers’ by Stephen Kinzer that details the activities of the Dulles brothers in shaping world affairs in the 1950s. So we can probably assume that the same kind of stuff is going on today.

      • No need to apologise. I sometimes soft-pedal my criticism a little. Plus, as I understand, local governments were not always fully aware of what was being done by Gladio operatives behind the scenes in their own countries. If Turkey’s AKP government hadn’t made a pre-emptive strike (the Ergenekon and Balyoz cases), I’m 99% sure they would have been overthrown by another military coup and the current leaders would be languishing in prison.

    • I concur that some of our “leaders” are that evil, and I personally do not believe a word of the offical 9/11 narrative. Trouble is, most people cannot believe their leaders are capable of such evil, for to do so would undermine the very fabric of society and our present governance model. Sociopaths, who are ideally suited to the job of doing evil, know this fact and exploit it to their own advantage. This is also the reason war criminals like Tony Blair and George Bush walk the earth, not only as free men, but also very rich.

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