Thursday, March 24, 2016

Brussels, Balance and the things that we fear

Yesterday listening to the ABC's Fran Kelly's rather breathless coverage of the Brussels tragedy, I thought, my God, who would have thought that a group of fanatics could help us inflict so much damage on our own societies? I used the words "us" and "ours" with intent.

When I first wrote on the so-called War on Terror, one of my concerns was the the use of language, the way in which our framing of discussion might create the very things we fear. Brussels was not the London Blitz nor the fire bombing of Dresden nor the Rape of Nanking nor the Bosnian massacres. Yes, the deaths and injuries were tragic, yes, we have to do something about it, but we have to keep a sense of balance.

Now in terms of key performance indicators, let us look at what these groups have achieved. Among other things, they have:
  • Forced an escalation in military spend
  • Forced a reduction in civil liberties among western democracies, one of whose central tenets is the preservation of those civil liberties
  • They have forced divisions in western societies, challenging inclusiveness and leading to the rise of right wing parties focused on exclusion. This includes facilitating the rise of Donald Trump in the US. 
  • They have encouraged sectarian division, setting religious groups against each other
  • They have brought key aspects of a major western institution, the European Union itself created as a consequence of war, injustice and genocide, to the point of collapse.
Congratulations, chaps. You really have done rather well, So long as you can keep the west reacting in the same way, you should be able to keep those KPIs rolling out. Who knows what you might achieve?    


Sue said...

Terrific post, Jim. I couldn't agree more.

In your analysis of the impact of the "achievements" of terrorism, you demonstrate the fundamental importance of maintaining an historical perspective and the way it can illuminate the real issues.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Sue and thanks. I get frustrated sometimes. Its not just that we risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but we throw the bath and the plumbing as well!

2 tanners said...

The terrorists have been cynically aided and abetted by the media and governments of all stripes who have demanded and received extra powers at huge financial and social cost and then demonstrated little ability to use the information garnered.

Box of Lindt chocolates, anyone?