Friday, September 08, 2017

Making things worse

The natural response of governments to terrorism is to crack down and use state violence against them. But America learned the hard way in Afghanistan and Iraq that that doesn't work; instead their policies of torture, arbitrary detention, and extra-judicial murder simply encouraged more people to fight them. And now African governments are making the same mistake:

Hundreds of violent extremists in Africa have told researchers that government action aimed at countering terrorism and insurgency across the continent was the “tipping point” for their decision to join an extremist group.


“In a majority of cases, paradoxically, state action appears to be the primary factor finally pushing individuals into violent extremism in Africa,” the new report, Journey to Extremism, says.

Of more than 500 former members of militant organisations interviewed for the report, 71% pointed to “government action”, including “killing of a family member or friend” or “arrest of a family member or friend” as the incident that prompted them to join a group.

“State security-actor conduct is revealed as a prominent accelerator of recruitment, rather than the reverse,” the report says.

You can also look at Australia, where government oppression of Muslims in the name of preventing terrorism has in fact created and fed it.

I don't know what the answer to terrorism is. But it is clear that what governments are doing at the moment - abusing human rights - makes things worse, not better. Its not just a crime, it is a mistake.