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)