Friday, October 24, 2008

The Word can be Mightier than the Sword

Or, Terrorism does not have to be fought with violence.

Or, or, there is redemption even for those who are responsible for horrific acts.

Or, or, or (OK, last one - can't help myself) - the POWER OF COMMUNITY cannot be underestimated.


This extremely interesting article caught my interest today. In it, reporter Warren Strobel describes how Indonesia is fighting the "war on terror." One would think it would be something important for Americans to know, how the world is fighting terror. Especially since this is apparently a crucial issue for many of us, particularly in this election season. Hey, maybe we could all take a unified approach!

But I digress. This article describes Nasir Abbas, a former Islamic militant. He taught the men who went on to instigate the Bali resort bombings, which this article describes as one of the world's deadliest terrorist attacks since 9/11. But this man has since changed his life. According to Strobel, Abbas is an alumnus of a government effort to "fight terrorism by persuasion. Indonesian authorities try to 'deradicalize' militants, debating religion with them and reconnecting them with their families instead of relying on high-tech weapons and harsh interrogation techniques that have characterized President Bush's approach since 9/11....'Because terrorism is an ideologically motivated crime, it is not possible to stop it using mere physical operations,' said Ansyaad Mbai, head of the counter-terrorism Coordinating Desk. 'Based on our experience, the harder we hit them with military force, the more radical they become.' "

Is this not mind-blowing to you? Is this not a great thing to have learned? I am flabbergasted and in awe, at the same time.

However, Strobel also points out that this system is not 100% effective. There are still some terrorists who are unrepentant. And (of course!) it is an underfunded program. But does this mean we should throw the baby out with the bathwater? Not in my book. I fully believe in the power of debating, respect for others, rebuilding community, and working for peace in a peaceful way. I wish the USA believed in these things too.

1 comment:

David said...

It seems that recent research on terrorism pegs it as a primarily social phenomenon. This is interesting to me, because previously I have only seen (stupid) explanations that it is a religions phenomenon, and (plausible) explanations that it is a political phenomenon. But I'm seeing the social argument more and more in the articles and interviews recently. I wish I had a link to post, but I do recall Terry Gross interviewed a prof (maybe from NYU?) who had a very lucid description of the newly understood mechanisms.