Strategy to deter terrorism — Dr Subramanian Swamy

Strategy to deter terrorism — Dr Subramanian Swamy

Most prominent national security analysts have argued that in countering terrorist threats, deterrent strategies as formulated for conventional warfare have no significant role to play in combating terrorism. A 2002 Rand Corporation study asserts: ?The concept of deterrence is both too limiting and too naive to be applicable to the war on terrorism.?

Within the coming four years, we have to prepare to pre-empt this holocaust by making meaningful allies and drawing up a strategy. This necessarily means an US, Israel, and India compact. The LeT has delivered in effect that message to the world by brutal murders on 26/11 and thus written the message for us in blood.

In the human body, when the cells start to grow independently of the brain, we say that the body has cancer. Pakistan as a nation thus is suffering from political cancer. After another few, may be four, years this cancer will become terminal.

In four years, I reckon that the Taliban, Mullah, ISI and Army government will unite to form a unified jehadi government. Zardari will then have to return to Dubai and the rest of the prominent members of Pakistani civil society will end up as kafirs in a morgue. Thereafter, India will have nothing left to piously debate about Pakistan on 24/7 TV channels because a jehadi nuclear war will be on the cards. Hence if we do not risk a war with Pakistan at a time of our choosing, we shall have a war anyway of the united jehadi government after four years at the time of their choosing.

Hence, within the coming four years, we have to prepare to pre-empt this holocaust by making meaningful allies and drawing up a strategy. This necessarily means a US, Israel and India compact. The LeT has delivered in effect that message to the world by brutal murders on 26/11 and thus written the message for us in blood.


I do however think our neighbour, and Pakistan?s unwavering benefactor, China, has to be kept in the loop, and won over. It can be done because China cannot survive as an economic power without the US. The recent financial crisis has proved that convincingly. Moreover, China has a Islamic fundamentalist problem brewing in Xinjiang, and would be interested in ending it, particularly the infiltration from Kazhakstan and Turkmenistan.

But the core countries of our strategic planning have to be those who have been long identified by Osama bin Laden as the enemies of Islam: US, Israel and India.

Today destiny has bound us together for a common purpose: the extermination of terrorism from the face of the earth by going to its festering source: Islamic fundamentalist theology embedded in the Koran, Sira and Hadith. The hardliners are in control, and their inspiration is Umar of the Caliphate.

All the humane sounding verses quoted by apologists from Koranic texts are really reserved for ?believers? i.e., Muslims. For others especially non-kitabis, only brutality, murder and reducing to degrading dhimmi status are prescribed. Let us therefore not be under any illusions. There is therefore no such thing as a ?moderate? Muslim. Either one is a Muslim or a renegade equivalent to a kafir. There is no room in Islamic theology for a third alternative believer.

A study by Peter Hammond concludes that where Muslim population in a country is less than 5 per cent, that population does not agitate for a separate law, the Sharia, in fact the community totally integrates itself with the majority in society. He cites the US and Australia as examples. Where the population of Muslims is between 5 per cent and 15 per cent they start agitating on religious grievances and separate identity. He gives India, France and UK as examples. When the population crosses 15 per cent and reaches 40 per cent, then an aggressive struggle by Muslims for autonomy starts. Thus India is at the threshold percentage today. Hammonds analysis corresponds to the classification of countries in Islamic theology: Darul Islam where Muslims rule, Darul Harab where Muslims are not in power but as a minority can agitate by fair or foul, hook or crook, to convert these countries to Darul Islam, and Darul Ahad (or Taqqiya) where a Muslim in minority risk the wrath of the majority, and hence Muslims must be compliant to the wishes of the majority for survival. Islamic theology does not, however as Hammond does, classify nations according to percentage of Muslim population but according to the nature of the majority?whether it is united and aggressive or divided and passive. India is in the latter category, and hence even where Muslims are less than five per cent as in Tamil Nadu, in pockets in the state where Muslims are in majority such as Thondi in Ramanathapuram district or Melvisharam in Vellore district, Muslims have established Darul Islam where Hindus are denied all civic amenities and live defacto as dhimmis. In Kashmir, where statewise they are in a narrow majority, they have engaged in religious cleansing to achieve Darul Islam by driving out half a million Hindus and Sikhs and made them refugees in a 83 per cent Hindu country. Only the Indian army is holding back the establishment of Darul Islam in Kashmir.

I do not blame Islam for this behaviour but find fault with the Hindus for not understanding the nature of Islamic theology even after a 1000 year experience of brutal Islamic rule, or by the betrayal by Ali brothers of Mahatma Gandhi following the foolish Khilafat movement, or the religious cleansing in Kashmir. Globally today, no Muslim nation permits any other religion to be practised even inside one?s home, nor permits gender equality as even a goal, or regards democracy as a human value.

No Muslim can be a ?moderate? unless he risks becoming a kafir. The experience of Rushdie and Taslima should leave no one in doubt about this. That is why I insist that unless an Indian Muslim proudly acknowledges that his ancestors are Hindus, and hence Hindu civilisation is his or her legacy too, he or she cannot be treated as an equal citizen in India. We need this commitment from the Muslims of India to secure our nation and civilisation from jehadi terror from abroad. According to me, even if half the 83 per cent Hindus unite above caste and linguistic divisions, Muslims will accept this historical truth of being descendents of Hindus. India then can become through the democratic process a virat brihad Hindu nation, where Hindus and Muslims can live securely as blood brothers.

At the same time, let us be clear not to go overboard, as we are prone to do, in forging the US-Israel-India compact against Islamic terrorism. The US interest will always remain to make India into another Australia or Japan, a reliable, pliant, and neutered poodle. But Indian mindset must never waver on the basic goal of a virat brihad Hindutva, and to make India a power of global reach.

Every concession to the US therefore must be negotiated as a return for India?s emergence in the global power structure as a pole. India has one asset that the US or Israel does not have, but urgently needs?a huge labour surplus of gifted and intelligent individuals?our demographic dividend now available thanks to the resounding defeat of the Congress in 1977 by the Janata Party and thus putting an end to its horrid nasbandi campaign.

Hence, wherever there exists a ?demographic hole? in these two societies, we must offer to fill it. That means readiness to make available our best brains for R&D, and to deploy our army, airforce, and navy in any theatre that they cannot adequately. In return, we must get them to build our infrastructure, modernising our armed forces, and develop our agro-industries with market access.

This bonding is sufficient to make the US-Israel-India compact durable and rewarding for us. Without India the other two cannot fight Islamic terrorism in the most important theatres of the world.

With this compact in place, our virat brihad Hindu identity or Hindutva clearly defined and assimiliated, India can formulate a strategy for deterrence against terrorism that nullifies the political objectives of the patrons of terrorists.

India is today infested with a host of terrorist insurgency. The JKLF, SIMI, ULFA, the PWG, the Maoists, the Tripura TNA, the Naxalites, the Naga terrorists, the Manipur terrorists, etc., etc. They can be crushed quickly except for one factor: The support given to them by Pakistan and Bangladesh. Pakistan?s support is via the ISI, a wing of the army, which engages also in fake Indian currency to finance such activities. Pakistani involvement is not because its civil society wants it, but because of the Islamic fervour in the army that is not reconciled to the defeat of its forces in Bangladesh. The same Islamic fervour has turned the Bangladesh establishment against India, and hence with the help of the ISI, AI Qaeda has through it?s Indonesian wing established a base to help these terrorists and also to develop the HuJI which is emerging as the human infrastructure of the terrorists in India. Thus, Islam is the heart and Pakistan is the brain of terrorism devil in India. Challenging Islam in the realm of ideas, without diluting the debate with secular platitudes, jamming the brain of terror, and destructing its human infrastructure embedded in Indians the core of a strategy to deter terrorism. This means sanitising Pakistan and truncating Bangladesh is required.

Most prominent national security analysts have argued that in countering terrorist threats, deterrent strategies as formulated for conventional warfare have no significant role to play in combating terrorism. A 2002 Rand Corporation study asserts: ?The concept of deterrence is both too limiting and too naive to be applicable to the war on terrorism.1′ US President?s National Security Strategy document states: ?Traditional? concepts of deterrence will not work against a terrorist enemy?.

Of course. I am not concerned here with ?traditional concepts? but with new ideas to combat the new form of warfare?clandestine violence under the name of terrorism.

This overwhelming consensus against efficacy of deterrence has now been challenged by two US based scholars, Robert Trager and Desseslava Zagorcheva [in ?Deterring Terrorism – It can be Done? International Security Journal (Harvard-MIT publication, Vol.30. No. 3, 2006)]

According to them the case against the use of deterrence strategies in counter-terrorist campaigns appears to rest on three pillars. First, terrorists are thought to be irrational, and therefore unresponsive to the cost-benefit calculation required in successful deterrence. Second, many terrorists are said to be so highly motivated that they are willing to die, and so not deterred by fear of punishment or of anything else. Third, even if terrorists were afraid of punishment, they cannot be deterred because they lack or have a shifting ?return address?1 on which retaliation can be visited. Therefore if terrorists? base cannot be found, the use of force against them is useless, eounterterrorist strategies that advocate addressing ?root causes?, such as by ?winning hearts and minds??, economic packages and promoting human rights, are for the long run. The required cure is however for the short run.

Trager and Zagorcheva argue that neverthrelress even the most highly motivated terrorists can be deterred by holding at risk the political goals of their patrons and financier rather than by threatening the life or liberty of the terrorists themselves.

Thus from a policy perspective, my view is that the ability of a terrorist targeted nation to put political goals of the patrons of the terrorists and their benefactors at risk stands the best chance deterring terrorism, and hence is the most important objective of counter-terrorism policy.

The structure of a counter-terrorism policy and the selection of instruments for implementation of this policy has to be targeted nation-specific and terrorist organisation-centric. There cannot be a general global strategy of deterrence against terrorism.

Harvard scholar and Nobel Laureate Thomas Schelling, in his Arms and Influence, (pp.70-71), contrasts deterrence (the threat to take hostile action unless the adversary acts).

Traditional view of deterrence in strategic studies literature implies the scope for a bargain: both sides agree to co-operate on a state of affairs that both prefer to alternatives they face. This is called cost-benefit analysis. Deterrence, therefore, is not just about making threats; it is also about making offers. Deterrence by punishment is about finding the right combination of threat and offer.

(To be continued)

First published on 4 Jan 2009 at organiser.org


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