MSNBC.COM -- This whole terrorism thing has been really concerning me for some time now. Every so often someone asks "How do we stop them?" or "How can we reason with them?" And we can't. There's such a deep-seated hatred, and they have no objective, other than to kill us. It's not about oil or invading holy land, it's about their perception that we are evil and that they will be rewarded for killing us. We can't reason with them, we can't come to an understanding, we can't bomb a country until they say "We surrender." There's no hive, no mother country, not head to be cut off. All there are is a decent number of really pissed off people who have perverted a religion and used their position to incite others -- uneducated, or seriously unhappy -- to their deaths.
Britain has made some headway in identifying and jailing those who have incited others to murder, but there are always people waiting to fill their places.
And while horribly failed (and even more horribly communicated), the US attempts to foster democracy world-wide also offers an opportunity for change. A recent article I read said that the middle east today is being compared to Japan after World War II. The Japanese culture was not that of democracy, but the US helped foster it and today, the Japanese enjoy their own brand of democracy, participate well in the world market and are a financial force to be reconned with.
In the same way, there are those who believe that the middle east can also be so transformed. Democracy (ok, consumerism) does not necessarily have to be diametrically opposed to their religion. And while it's easy to boil it down incorrectly into a chant "no blood for oil" the fight for democracy in the middle east begins with oil. They've got a lot of it, and we need it. We'll pay for it, but in a democracy, there's no reason that everyone in Iraq, for instance, shouldn't be rewarded. No one should have 22 palaces while the population starves. Eliminating abject poverty is a good first step to eliminating the breeding ground for content, anger, and a downtrodden, depressed people who are easy marks for redirecting their anger and discontent to someone else.
We see this ourselves in this country. We resent Bill Gates for his enormous wealth. If we were made to believe that he was engaged in all manner of despicable things contrary to our belief system and ethics, and that it was all made possible because he kept us oppressed, it might be easy to incite someone to kill him, because it would make us a hero and because we might be told that it would make the world a little less evil.
But, we'd have to be lied to. And we'd have to be ready to believe.
But this is where it gets really difficult. Now, the recruits needn't even be from an impoverish nation, they're seeing recruits who spent most or all of their lives in the country they would later attack, but in the impoverished sections of that country. Apparently as the world gets coarser, we need to raise the bar everywhere. (If I were ever President, I would have a team identifying "the bottom _____" or "the worst ____" and then I would be challenging the nation to change that. That would always mean a new bottom, but it would always mean improving where improvement was most needed.)
And herein lies the first cracks in the dam that I've seen. New recruits into this bloody suicide-bombing movement are often studied for a time before they are approached, to learn what weakness in their life might be used. Then, they are courted, sworn to secrecy, and eventually forced to cut all ties to their family and friends, often being asked to move, and later sent to another country (like Pakistan) for a brief time of training. (It's said now that many from the UK going to Pakistan don't even need indoctrination, that they're only receiving training, they've already been fully brainwashed.)
That's the first crack... so identifying when something like this begins to happen could possibly mean that the person is about to be activated.
The police have also seen in cases where they've aprehended someone before they've had a chance to blow themselves up, that with even a small amount of civility and compassion by the police, the bombers immediately open up and spill the beans. Their cultish indoctrination, their isolation and their impending death are all very scary to them and they are greatful to be able to get out of the situation. (I'm wondering also if their suicide brings sweet relief from a life that's gone so horribly wrong and/or there are threats of torture to them or their family if they don't go through with it?)
It would be hard to identify the four who were arrested last week, if they had not already participated in a failed attempt -- and if UK did not have the elaborate network of live video cameras that it does. But once arrested, they have been helpful and forthcoming. The UK police are now searching for four French-speaking muslims who are in the country and could be next. Let's hope they find them in time, to save their lives and the lives of many others.