A perspective from Perth, Western Australia

Tuesday, October 09, 2001

Various thoughts

I am becoming convinced that this little problem in Afghanistan is essentially a problem with the male way of thinking. We need more women in advisory and ruling places. It's odd that by far the majority of people I know who share my opinions on how pointless and possibly counterproductive bombing Afghanistan is, happen to be female. I am not advocating doing nothing, but rather _proaction_ rather than reaction. This "They (possibly) did this to us, let's bomb the crap out of them and this will solve the problem" mentality tends towards a somewhat cyclical nature, especially as Osama and his mates are also talking about a "final solution". Some of his mates are worse than he is, and better armed (largely thanks to the US in the 80s, and Osama's oil money in the 90s) and they're nowhere near Afghanistan.

  • inactive - indolent, sluggish, passive.
  • reactive - characterised by reacting to situations after they have developed.
  • proactive - taking the initiative in directing the course of events, rather than waiting until things happen.

Inactive would be to do nothing. That would be just wrong in the present circumstances.

Reactive is to simply blast the crap out of them and hope (a) they don't recover, and (b) we got every last one of them.

Proactive is to look at why terrorism happens. It is usually born out of two basic premises - money and power. Terrorists depend on popular support from their environments to survive, and they get this through exploiting people's desire to believe in an easy way out of their poverty and powerlessness.

This may be to create a homeland for their people, to give their minority rights in a primarily monocultural society, or to bring down those whom they feel have caused their poverty and powerlessness. Now you'll notice ALL of these aims can be achieved by peaceful means - the East Timorese and the Indians (under Mahatma Gandhi) are two of many examples of precisely this. Especially in societies which are illiterate and poor where religion is a strong influence (think back to our own feudal history in Europe), religious groups and orders hold a lot of sway with the people. This has been used for both positive - look at Bishop Carlos Belo of East Timor - and negative ends.

What makes the people choose to either actively or complicitly support terrorists over those who propose more moderate solutions? Pretty simple. There is a perception that the terrorists will achieve the outcome much more quickly. Also, their own press, which only reaches the 40% or so who are literate, does not release details of the casualties, and paints a picture of these being a valid and important target towards their final aim (Sound familiar, anyone?)

So what happens if you bomb Afghanistan and declare these champions of their cause to be evil? Quite simply, their allies in remote regions of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan are still able, without hindrance, and now have a new motive to inflict even more suffering on the world, whether it be on the US, on the West, on Israel, or Russia. Who knows, and who can know? I was always taught as a child not to play with fire, or I might get burnt. The same applies here.

We need common-sense, not jingoism, and perhaps that's why we need more females in control of our defence and foreign policy. I'm not saying all females are better than all males, just saying we need a more balanced perspective and maybe that is one way to provide it.

Originally posted at a previous blog.


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