AllTheWeb :: find it all

Add to Technorati Favorites A Time, Times, and a Half a Time: December 2007

December 25, 2007

Big Brother on Stage: What Kind of Actor is the EU?

Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Part III

(Previous: Part I Killing with a Clear Conscience
Part II Dictator at the Door )

Rafael Dochao Moreno, principal administrator of the Euro-Med Partnership, when asked the question why Spain chose to launch the Alliance of Civilizations initiative at the United Nations rather than the European Union responded that the “Barcelona process is already an AoC…why do we need an AoC?” Moreno’s response reminded those of us who have been following the Barcelona Process what we’ve already known--that the Alliance of Civilizations is a key aspect for the European foreign policy. The Barcelona Process, introduced in 1995 by Spain’s Javier Solana, contained a social cohesion strategy which had a goal to combat religious fundamentalism worldwide. The Alliance of Civilizations is merely a vehicle for such activity. Right from the start, the AoC was intended to form the core of the global counter-terrorism strategy. Before the cartoon crisis (in which Spain’s Zapatero, Moratinos, Federico Mayor, and Solana so authoritatively rose to the occasion to turn crisis into opportunity), Spain’s foreign minister had introduced the idea of the AoC as a tool to combat terrorism. Incidentally, although no group has ever stepped forward to claim responsibility or offer rationale for inciting the cartoon crisis, blame was assigned to “religious extremists” along with the claim that they seek to provoke a clash of civilizations. There is only one group that has reaped tremendous political benefit from the cartoon crisis--it almost reminds me of the Reichstag fire.

In a previous blog post we examined the Club of Madrid’s 2005 counter-terrorism strategy. As I reviewed the conference pictures and list of participants, I noticed linkages to those who put forth the EU Social Cohesion Policy and the Alliance of Civilisations initiative. (Click on image to enlarge.)

It is not surprising then that the Madrid Agenda contains identical objectives to those of the European Union’s Counter-Terrorism Strategy. Europe’s counter-terrorism strategy was presented to the June 2003 Thessalonika European Council by Javier Solana. Solana’s counter-terrorism strategy, which was incorporated into the security strategy A Secure Europe for a Better World, addresses combating strategic terrorism as its primary objective. Recall in Part I of my counter-terrorism article that strategic terrorism has been attributed to religious beliefs in which one accepts an “exclusivist” truth claim. An examination of the EU counter-terrorism documents yields the same definition. But here we see the lion’s teeth of militarization. There is an interesting paragraph in the Thessalonika document which reads:

  • “…the Danish Presidency decided to commission a group of Ministers' personal representatives to submit an analysis of the phenomenon of extreme fundamentalism and terrorism…The final report has been submitted and will be further discussed within the Council with a view to taking forward its recommendations.”

I of course was curious to read this report but have been unable to do so because a Decision of the European Ombudsman ruled that there were politically sensitive evaluations concerning a large number of foreign states. During my search, I was able to locate a research report published by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs which frequently quotes from the Extreme Fundamentalism and Terrorism Group (EFTG). It may give us a glimpse of some of the sensitive issues contained within this report. For example, I suspect we may find that the EFTG considers Israel an authoritarian regime:

  • “In most fundamentalist transnational terrorist violence, the perpetrators tend to view the front line to be between Israel and the United States, on the one hand, and the Islamic world on the other. It involves the dispute about the US occupation of holy areas either itself or through proxies such as the authoritarian regimes of Saudi Arabia and Persia, or Israel. According to the report of the Extreme Fundamentalism and Terrorism Group (EFTG) the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would have a very important positive impact on the struggle against extreme fundamentalism and terrorism.”

This is consistent with the Alliance of Civilizations’ statements as during the Doha debates Israel’s government was named an extremist regime. Regarding fundamentalism, the EFTG says:

  • "Fundamentalism has been defined as an attitude where non-negotiable principles are introduced to politics from a transcendental source, holy texts or a divine discourse. “From the point of view of fundamentalism, religion expresses a divine order, which ideally embraces all life spheres. Although this may simply lead fundamentalists to encapsulate their own existence around their religious beliefs (“Quietism”), they will most often actively pursue the goal of seeking other life spheres, including political one, dominated by religious rather than secular principles.” Often fundamentalism has also meant a tendency to impose these principles indiscriminately on believers and non-believers alike.”

The European Commission’s social cohesion research report further demonstrates that religious fundamentalism will not be tolerated within the European neighborhood.

  • "This third school of thought is referred to as 'civil society as the public sphere'. "Theories of the public sphere demand a return to the practice of politics. Not as an elite occupation in which the public takes part once every four or five years through elections, but as an ongoing process through which 'active citizens' can help to shape both the ends and means of the good society…Essential to the functioning of democracy, according to the line of thinking of this school, is that all sets of voices are heard. Inequality and discrimination are therefore seen as the enemies of the public sphere. Fundamentalism is seen as its most dangerous enemy, since fundamentalism does not acknowledge the existence of different truths nor does it respect other values, which makes it impossible to reach a consensus with other groups... The only similarity between European policy and this third school of thought is its aversion to fundamentalism."

As part of the 2007-2013 Cohesion Policy, member states are bound by agreement to implement European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) guidelines. As mentioned earlier, the European Defense Strategy’s focus is primarily on combating strategic terrorism. To do so, Solana has created a military-industrial complex having the following characteristics (to name only a few):

  • The theatre of operations is global.
  • Military assets that operate far beyond European borders.
  • Capacity to conduct offensive in addition to defensive war.
  • In the event not all member states are in agreement, draw upon a nucleus of states comprising a permanent structured cooperation.
  • Strategic missions will be organized through coalitions of the “willing and able.”
  • A civilian-military crisis management approach (CIMIC). CIMIC is a plan which places the civilian population subject to military authority.
  • Crisis management through EU Battle Groups
  • Overcome the divide between military and criminal intelligence.
  • Involve gendarmerie forces in all types of police missions: crowd control, maintaining public order, conducting intelligence work, criminal investigations, counter-terrorism, etc.
  • Establishment a citizens’ biometrics database (Schengen Information System, aka SIS II and Visa Information System). These systems were developed in secrecy without consultation of the European Parliament.
  • Gather intelligence through satellite capabilities and the Torrejon Satellite Centre.
  • The Galileo Navigational System provides the ability to conduct precision urban warfare (see An Evaluation of the Military Benefits of the Galileo System).
  • New EU-NATO framework - Ensure escalation dominance in the essence of Berlin-Plus.
  • Ability to conduct network-enabled warfare: co-operability with US armed forces having ability to “plug into” US networks.
  • Use of NATO Response Forces in crisis management.
  • Provide military capabilities to the UN. Would include a reserve or an “extraction force” provided to support a UN operation.
  • Activate Western European Union Recommendation 666 which places above assets into control of the High Representative (Solana) in the event of a crisis.

The new EU-NATO relationship has tripled European capacity for power-projection. The Prague Summit Declaration , a blueprint for EU-NATO co-operation, reinforces Solana’s social cohesion platform:

  • We reaffirm that security in Europe is closely linked to security and stability in the Mediterranean. We therefore decide to upgrade substantially the political and practical dimensions of our Mediterranean Dialogue as an integral part of the Alliance’s cooperative approach to security. In this respect, we encourage intensified practical cooperation and effective interaction on security matters of common concern, including terrorism-related issues, as appropriate, where NATO can provide added value. We reiterate that the Mediterranean Dialogue and other international efforts, including the EU Barcelona process, are complementary and mutually reinforcing.
  • Endorse the agreed military concept for defence against terrorism. The concept is part of a package of measures to strengthen NATO’s capabilities in this area, which also includes improved intelligence sharing and crisis response arrangements.

NATO’s military concept for defence against terrorism coincides with Solana’s civilian-military approach as NATO’s framework directs:

  • “Act…in support of the international community’s efforts against terrorism.” [Recalling that the Alliance of Civilizations social cohesion program is the core of the counter-terrorism strategy.]
  • “Developing an overreaching international strategy for defence against terrorism.”
  • “religious extremism is likely to be the source of the most immediate terrorist threats to the Alliance…”
  • “Counter Terrorism, primarily offensive measures.”
  • “…winning the trust of the local population through Psychological Operations and Information Operations is vital.”
  • “Within most NATO nations, civil authorities, such as the police, customs and immigration authorities, finance ministries, interior ministries, intelligence and security services, are the primary agencies involved in dealing with terrorism and military forces will need to operate in support of, and in close coordination with all of these agencies. The Concept therefore states that NATO must harmonise its procedures and efforts with civil authorities within nations in order to maximize its effectiveness against terrorism.

This is a tremendous amount of power to be placed in the hands of one individual. Many of us have often heard that a picture is worth 1000 words. For a visual representation of the EU Security and Defense Policy and to grasp Javier Solana’s power, watch this Center for International Peace Operations presentation. (I would recommend you download it as it is likely to soon disappear.) So what kind of actor is the EU? Again, this picture speaks volumes.

One living in other parts of the world may read this and mistakenly believe that this is only a European problem. This cohesion strategy is global and is intended to be realized through the United Nations’ Alliance of Civilizations initiative. For those of us living in the United States, this past week we were made aware of the FBI’s formation of a vast biometrics database as well as the Dept. of Homeland Security’s domestic satellite-surveillance program. I am certain that these systems will “plug into” the Schengen biometrics system which is referred to as Big Brother. What many have long feared, I’m saddened to say, has arrived. Indeed, Big Brother is now here.

Part IV

December 8, 2007

Dictator at the Door

Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Part II
(Previous: Part I)

*** See use doctrine here

During Kofi Annan's presentation to the General Assembly of the United Nation's Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, he applauded the Club of Madrid for its related efforts in countering terrorism. In 2005, the Club of Madrid conducted a democracy, terrorism and security conference which is said to have been the largest gathering of security and terrorism experts that has ever taken place. Annan delivered the keynote address to the closing plenary where he conveyed that he would form an implementation task force dedicated to fighting terrorism and that all the UN system would play a role. We know that the role of setting the "global conscience" is being fulfilled by the Alliance of Civilizations High Level Group. One need not look too far on the list of conference participants to find individuals connected to the Alliance of Civilizations. Noteworthy participants include John Esposito, Giandomenico Picco, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Javier Solana, etc. Here, I provide a summation of the conference outcome documents.

Addressing the Causes of Terrorism, identification of the problematic individuals are found on pages 27-33. The core of the experts’ argument is that religion can contribute to a ‘culture of violence’, a condition which must be addressed to stop the spread of terrorism.

  • “…religion is often ‘centered around themes that can be inherently polarizing—concepts of truth, notions of good, of absolutes and ultimate realities’. For this reason, religion can contribute to a culture of violence where violence becomes ‘a defining issue’ in the identity of activist groups.”

In Part I of this series, we see that Alliance of Civilisation’s High Level Group member John Esposito equates monotheistic religions’ exclusive truth claims with terrorism. In light of Esposito’s contribution to this counter-terrorism strategy, it’s no surprise that the question “Is violence more frequently linked with monotheistic traditions?” resulted in the following answer:

  • “Samuel Peleg pointed out that the monotheistic religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) have a tendency to authoritarianism and intolerance due to ‘their centrist emphasis on a single deity’. Esposito said that the ‘three Abrahamic traditions’ have been ‘more prone to exclusivist theologies/worldviews which can be used by political and religious leaders to legitimate imperialist expansion, violence, and terror’. Elorza gave explanations of why – in his view – Islam and Judaism had a propensity towards violence and Buddhism did not. Other members of the group stressed that some strands of Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism have also been capable of hideous acts of terror, and that these acts have been justified by violent images and themes within these Eastern traditions. Moreover, the distinction between ‘monotheism’ and ‘polytheism’ is much debated by scholars of comparative religion who point out that a supposedly polytheistic religion such as Hinduism has a strong sense of unity behind its diversity, and that notions such as the Christian Trinity and concepts of sainthood introduce a complexity into the idea of God in the supposed monotheisms of Western religions.”

Maybe the monotheistic faiths are too complex for these individuals. So they concluded: therefore, responding to terrorism:

  • “Multi-track approaches (involving political, social and economic in parallel with security and military measures) should be employed.”

The Confronting Terrorism working papers lay out these multi track approaches. I subtitled my copy “Directives for a Police State”. There is a common thread running through the three main counter-terrorism strategies which I focus on —one which migrates the military from battlefield situations and embeds it into the populations. This is referred to as peace-keeping. (I will address this further in my next blog article.) This approach is intended for global implementation. Among the Club of Madrid's plans of action are:

  • “Legal standards need to be improved by harmonising penal and police laws, as well as by ratifying and implementing the relevant United Nations Conventions and Protocols and similar regional agreements.”
  • “Creation of a global citizens’ network.”
  • “Transformation of the armed forces - We do not see a need for dedicated counter-terrorist forces as special branches of the military establishment. Rather we would see this role, as well as the anti-terrorist and consequence management roles, as fitting in with what might be considered to be the emerging model for Western armed forces…models geared to peace-keeping (with only a limited capacity for self defense and dependent upon local consent).”
  • “The experiences of the humanitarian interventions as well as the counter-terrorist operations of recent years point to a need for lighter, more agile forces, drawing on modern technologies (for example in combining the ability to track targets and attack them with precision) while understanding the difficulties when it becomes necessary to mingle with civil society and the overall political context within which operations are conducted.”
  • “Biometrical identification systems will increasingly be used in travel documents as well as in other transactions.”

Travel documents for a world without borders? Hmmm. But, of course, all of this is intended to be conducted within the framework of and with sensitivity to democracy—that is “safe democracy”. The Alliance of Civilizations Giandomenico Picco has provided us with direction on what form of democracy we may expect under this weltanschauung. I noticed after I published my first article in this series that the Club of Madrid had removed Picco’s article from their website. I have attached it to the top of this piece for educational purposes. It can also be found on safe democracy foundation’s website. Simply click on each document to expand it so it becomes readable. According to Picco:

  • Now the challenge which faces most of our institutions, which are part and parcels of the system of indirect democracy, is whether they can evolve to meet a world where there are many ways to express the voice of the people besides elections and where knowledge is so wide spread that a group of few cannot claim monopoly on the truth. The participation of the peoples in elections is diminishing in many societies.”
  • I would venture to say that of the democratic institutions the first to evolve would be the Parliament: no longer the monopolist of the voice of the people, nor of knowledge for the people, they may have to reinvent themselves…”
  • “Our societies are likely unprepared for that kind of democracy as we have never experienced it. But for how long can we keep the door closed?”

Well this is one weltanschauung that amounts to nothing more than old fashioned fascism--a relic of extremist ideology has been tested before. Ultimately, it will become known as the most terroristic regime the world has ever known.

Part III

December 2, 2007

Killing with a Clear Conscience


Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Part I

In my early writings on this blog space, I warned of
the Militarization of the Alliance of Civilizations. A militarized Alliance of Civilisations is necessary for the High Level Group (HLG) to successfully conduct a war on extremism and terrorism. Most people consider those objectives to be positive. I may have too had I not read the AoC’s definitions of terrorism.

When Kofi Annan first introduced the AoC, he said that the problem (civilizational tensions) is not with the faiths, but with the faithful. The AoC has since expanded on this statement. Accordingly, if you read a religious text and apply an interpretation that becomes an “exclusive” truth claim, you have thereby entered a theology of hatred and have terrorist leanings. That, they say, is a root cause of terrorism. During the
Doha Debates HLG member John Esposito said:

  • “I think the danger of religious extremism can be, even though it's not necessarily violent, when it becomes exclusivist in which is basically says, 'Not only is my faith right, but your faith is absolutely wrong, and not only is my faith right, but my faith position within my faith is right, and so another Muslim who disagrees with me is wrong,' then you're moving into a very dangerous position here because you're bordering on what I would call theology of hate. That kind of mentality can easily be used by some, and it has been used by people like Osama Bin Laden, to legitimate military action at a certain point. You can easily slip over the line once you're into that realm of what I would call theology of hate, and we see that with elements of the Christian right, the Jewish right, and with elements of the Muslim right. I'm avoiding the word fundamentalism here, but you know what I mean.”

This poses a significant problem for most monotheists as our religious texts make exclusive truth claims. What escapes Esposito’s attention is that most of us enjoy freedom—we can choose our faiths and worship as we please. We respect and defend others’ rights to do likewise. This is called respect, not hatred. Perhaps Esposito’s vision of democracy is entirely different than mine.

As I took an in-depth look at the
United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, it was not surprising to find the Alliance of Civilizations and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at its core. This “comprehensive” strategy contains “measures to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism”. The strategy and its related documents can be found at the UN’s Uniting Against Terrorism website. While reading through the many documents, an item of interest in the recommendations document caught my attention which reads:

  • “I also urge the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in collaboration with the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, to continue its work…”

Nearly a year ago I had archived a counter-terrorism piece from the Office on Drugs and Crime’s website which says:

  • “Religious groups often claim to be in possession of absolute truth, and some terrorist groups do the same. Religion also appears to offer the terrorist a seemingly ‘moral’ justification for immoral deeds. Human rights violations are ‘justified’ in the name of an invoked ‘divine law’”

(This link is no longer on the website, but the same material can be found here.)

This prompted me to check and see if the Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute shared the same wisdom. Sure enough, I found counter-terrorism material by Giandomenico Picco. Picco was Kofi Annan’s personal representative who worked on the Dialogue Among Civilizations project and later was instrumental in the startup of the Alliance of Civilizations initiative. Picco’s contribution to the AoC is certain to have a significant impact world’s religious populations as he has most disturbingly defined terrorism which can be found in UN publication International Terrorism and Governmental Structures. Here Picco explains that there are two types of terrorism, those being tactical and strategic. Tactical terrorist are associated with groups such as Hezbollah. Hezbollah, Picco explains, has a both a political and military branch whereby negotiations are possible. Strategic terrorism is based on religious belief. It is altogether different--more radical—of which there can be no negotiation. According to Picco:

  • “Different is the new kind of terrorism we witnessed in the last ten years or so by the Al Qaeda type of organizations. The Al Qaeda virtual groups have provided an almost opposite image from the tactical terrorists. The weltanschauung they offer is one of deep and profound exclusion and one of “us and them” which is rooted in an ideology of religious overtones and the arrogance of being alone in the possession of the truth on every single issue. The takfiri imprint is at the core of that vision. Thus negotiations have no place in the vision of the new terrorists.”

  • “I call them the strategic terrorists for their objective goes much beyond the readdress of what they perceive are injustices. They are moved by a global strategy. The ideology with heavy religious overtones behind it is that of the monopoly of truth. The mentality of the monopoly of truth is at the very origin of extremism and indeed of all kinds of exclusionism. Clearly any ideology based on dogmas has the potential of generating more and more confrontation.”
  • "As for the first challenge it has to be repeated that any weltanschauung that is based on the belief of having a monopoly of truth is exclusive, divisive and I would dare say a bit out of sink with reality: a reality that is of increasing interdependence of all with all. The monopoly of truth concept which is rooted on the ‘holier than thou’ concept and the concept of superior or holier group, would fit better a world where autocracy was still a possibility; but autocracy is a long-gone concept in an intertwined and interdependent world. To instigate exclusiveness is in fact to march against time and most importantly against the facts of life, as they exist today and not 1000 years ago.”
  • “We may well need a “global coalition of the sane”; as Prince Hassan used to call it before he was told that it was not politically correct. A coalition of the sane would have to be pursued across divides of all kinds and under a flag that would be recognized by all peoples to be their own…”
  • “These advocates of a coalition of the sane would need to raise their voice in support of the large majority of the world who does not have the arrogance to believe they own the truth alone, but instead has the wisdom to know we are profoundly interconnected and interrelated. A strategy of a global coalition needs a coalition of peoples. That may be a task for “leaders who can lead without enemy.””

Here we have the United Nations Crime and Justice department likening a large part of the world’s population to Al Qaeda terrorists and at the same time advancing the new age dogma of interconnection. The doctrine of interconnection is itself exclusivist and separatist. New age authoritative writings point to a process of separation—an evolutionary transformation—in which those not in touch with the new age will be sent to another dimension.

The Alliance of Civilizations’ HLG member John Esposito has drawn a division line of acceptable beliefs. In an upcoming post I will show how this line has become even more dangerous. HLG personality Karen Armstrong ridicules us for having the belief that they seek to “wipe us out”. Of course, as the AoC implements its guidelines of acceptable interpretations of the faith, the faithful who do not conform will be redefined as terrorists. By doing this, they can now kill having a clear conscience.

(Related Posts: Part II)