08 July 2005

37 dead, several thousand injured, where to from here?

While it’s not a patch on the number of innocent civilians killed and injured worldwide every day by land-mines alone — some of them no doubt manufactured, brokered, shipped or whatever by London-based companies — deliberately setting out to kill more innocent civilians has to be the single stupidest way I can think of to get one’s point across.

If the London attacks really are Al Quaeda (and if not, it will be someone of similar stripe), then of course they need to be stopped — but how? All of the simple answers have been tried, and have failed. To be merciless enough to exterminate every potential terrorist simply kills, you guessed it, still more innocent civilians and generates the resentment needed to form the next generation of indignant murderers, and anything less than that won’t have a measurable effect.

Education hasn’st worked. It is seen (and rightly so) as an attempt to replace one extreme ideology with another, and will provoke a corresponding reaction. If it’s missionaries, the threat is a competing religion (Christianity). If it’s &non-religious” educators, the threat is still a competing religion (Atheism). The way either form of the threat will be met is predictable: violently.

At first glance, a look under the surface of any terrorist will show someone with nothing left to lose. But there is almost always a second layer of people who have plenty of physical resources, directing things. It seems to me that the answer is simple: enrich them.

What?

Provide the underlings (“It’s so tempting to say ‘minions’ instead”) the opportunity to earn possessions and freedoms which they will then be in a position to lose. Make them materially compatible with their overlords, too, more inclined to think about what they’re being told instead of accepting it blindly. Stinking rich is unnecessary — at least, not “stinking rich” by our standards — just as wealthy as a dole-bludger in a typical Western society would do. This will have three effects: to make them less desperate, and more willing to argue with the ringleaders, and eventually more self-educated. In short, more reasonable.

The horror in London is not the fruits of reasonable actions by reasonable men. If we make the men reasonable, we take away the motivation that produces terrorism.

There is one major and obvious shortcoming to this grand yet simple plan: How?

Even if you had the material resources to just hand them a lifestyle on a platter, that wouldn’t work. They would need to earn it themselves, to truly own it, or at least feel that they have.

Any ideas?

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