Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Op-Ed: Identity, aviation security and the response to terrorism

John Walton, runwaygirlnetwork.com

Uncaptioned imagefrom article
[M]ilitary responses to a non-militarised foe have a poor historical record. Deterring terrorism is multi-faceted: yes, take out the command and control functions of terrorist groups, strengthen intelligence gathering that has been proven to work, guard high-profile targets, but also deter by denial of effect.
Deterrence by denial of effect requires that we understand that the purpose of this sort of Islamic terrorism is to spark a reaction that is perceived by Muslims as excessive. If we can refrain from that reaction, that’s the first step.
The next step is deterring motivations, both in terms of ensuring that home populations feel like valued members of society rather than becoming radicalised, and in terms of what is essentially PR to the rest of the world: public diplomacy. It is about getting believable messengers to speak in the cultural language of the target audience, which is a task as difficult as it is vital. Think about the international reputation (or lack thereof) of Kremlin mouthpiece RT outside Russia.
There is significant opportunity here in terms of public diplomacy, yet actions speak louder than the Voice of America or the BBC World Service. The failure to gain results from public diplomacy over the twelve years since I wrote my dissertation, the significant cuts to public diplomacy budgets, and the fact that this problem is clearly not going away mean that we need to act. ...
We need the strong political will to take real, risk-based decisions based on the intelligence that is gathered, enabling societies to go about their daily business with an understanding that intelligent, considered actions are being taken for their safety. We need a media that informs and educates rather than driving traffic through a morally bankrupt race to have the most gory pictures, the most heartwrenching stories, the first sobbing relative.
Let us stand in Facebook solidarity with France, while also realising that there are other attacks happening in the world that are more removed from our experience. Let us help people who are fleeing this selfsame enemy that is attacking us, welcoming them into our societies and showing them kindness. Let us look, in hours of darkness, as US educator Fred Rogers said, for the people who are running to help.
And let us come to accept and understand that one of the ramifications of living in open, pluralist, accepting societies — the very societies that religious extremists of all types condemn — is that we can be targets, infinitesimally small though the risk may be to us individually, and as much as we do to stop it. No security is perfect, no matter how draconian, and we are the poorer for living in an atmosphere of anything but quiet defiance and a resolution to live our lives on our own terms. ...

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