A strategy to deter terrorism
First Published : 28 Dec 2008 09:14:16 AM IST
Last Updated : 28 Dec 2008 09:51:04 AM IST
India is today infested with a host of terrorist insurgencies: JKLF, SIMI, ULFA, the PWG, the Maoists, the Naxalites, the Tripura TNA, the Naga terrorists, the Manipur terrorists et al. They can all be crushed quickly but for one factor: the support they get them from Pakistan and Bangladesh. Pakistan’s support is via the ISI, a wing of its army, which also fakes 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 fervour has turned the Bangladesh establishment against India, and hence with the help of the ISI, al Qaeda has through its Indonesian wing established a base to help these terrorists and also to develop the HuJI, which is emerging as the human infrastructure of terrorists in India. Thus, Islam is the heart and Pakistan is the brain of terrorism in India.
Challenging Islam in the realm of ideas, without diluting the debate with secular platitudes, jamming the brain of terror and destroying its human infrastructure embedded in India, is the core of a strategy to deter terrorism. This means sanitising Pakistan and truncating Bangladesh.
Prominent national security analysts have argued that in countering terrorist threats, deterrent strategies as formulated for conventional warfare have no significant role to play.
The 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.
The overwhelming consensus against the 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, Vol.30, No.3, 2006)]. According to them, the case against the use of deterrence strategies in counterterrorist 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” on which retaliation can be visited. Counterterrorist 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 for the short run.
Trager and Zagorcheva argue nevertheless that even the most highly motivated terrorists can be deterred by holding at risk the political goals of their patrons and financiers.
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 of deterring terrorism, and is the most important objective of counter-terrorism policy.
The structure of a counter-terrorism policy must be nation-specific and terrorist organisation-centric. There cannot be a general global strategy of deterrence against terrorism.
Traditional view of deterrence in strategic studies literature implies the scope for a bargain: both sides agree to cooperate 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.
But it appears impossible that deterrence could hold at risk something of sufficient value to terrorists such that their behavior is affected. This means if the terrorists’ motivation is high enough, then even a small probability of a successful operation and a high probability of punishment will not deter them.
Further, because the interests of terrorists and the State seem so opposed, it appears impossible that the two sides could agree on a state of affairs that both prefer to that in which each does its worst against the other.
Terrorists are highly irrational by mainstream norms, but not completely. A growing body of literature shows that terrorist groups usually have lexicographically ordered goals and choose their strategy accordingly. States also have preferences over these same objectives.
The preference orderings of objectives of terrorists and States are diametrically opposed therefore the question of deterrence becomes crucial. Paradoxically, the high levels of motivation often make terrorists more susceptible to a deterrence strategy that targets their political goals.
Highly motivated terrorists, because they hold their political goals dear are reluctant to run even low level risks that hurt their political aims. This magnifies the coercive leverage of strategies that target political ends.
The Islamic terrorists in India have only one goal: to convert the Darul Harab India of today into the Darul Islam of tomorrow. Judging by the secret writings in circulation amongst clerics in Saudi Arabia, the Muslim clerics consider as unacceptable the failure of 800 years of Islamic rule in India to convert India into a 100 per cent Muslim nation.
Akhand Hindustan could not be converted more than 25 per cent. Thus, it was a passive victory of Hindus and a blow to the imagined invincibility of Islam.
Islamic theologists consider the US a meddling nation that is corrupting the social morals of Muslims; Israel represents a reversal of Islamic conquest of territory in West Asia by Jews who were hated by Prophet Mohammed; and Hindustan a challenge to the invincibility of Islam.
India has a huge population, and worse, has begun to develop quickly. Thus India must be targeted by terrorising Hindus and making them submit. The mad mullahs are thus on a rampage, and we Hindus have to wake up to the real challenge of Mumbai 26/11 and all that preceded it.
The first lesson to be learnt for tackling terrorism is that India recognise that the Hindu is the target, and that Muslims of South Asia are being programmed to slide into suicide against Hindus.
The recent al Qaeda videotapes in Bihar, seeking recruits for terrorism against the “US-Israel-India axis”, are an indication of this. It is to undermine the Hindu psyche and create fear of civil war that terror attacks are organised.
And since the Hindu is the target, Hindus must collectively respond as Hindus against the terrorist and not feel isolated, or worse be complacent because he or she is not personally affected. Therefore we have to have a collective mindset as Hindus to stand against the terrorist.
In this response, Muslims and Christians of India can join the Hindus if they genuinely feel for the Hindu. That they really do so feel cannot be believed unless they acknowledge with pride that though they may be Muslims or Christians, their ancestors are Hindus.
It is not easy for them to acknowledge this ancestry even though that is the truth, because the Muslim Mullah and Christian Missionary would consider it as unacceptable according to the Koran and the Bible.
That realisation of oneness with Hindus would also dilute the religious fervour of their faith and create a mental option for their possible re-conversion and return to Hinduism.
So, their religious leaders preach hatred and violence against the Kafir and the pagan, ie, the Hindu, to keep the faith of their followers.But still, if any Muslim or Christian does so acknowledge his or her Hindu legacy, then we Hindus can accept him or her as a part of the Brihad Hindu Samaj, which constitutes Hindustan. India that is Hindustan is thus a nation of Hindus and those others whose ancestors are Hindus. Even Parsis and Jews in India have Hindu ancestors.
Those who refuse to so acknowledge or those foreigners who become Indian citizens by registration can remain in India, but should not have voting rights.
The second lesson is since demoralising the Hindu and undermining the Hindu foundation of India in order to destroy Hindu civilisation is the goal of terrorists, we must never capitulate and never concede any demand of terrorists.
Terrorists are encouraged by appeasement but never satisfied by it. Therefore, no matter how many Hindus have to die, the basic policy has to be: never yield to any demand of terrorists. That necessary resolve has not been shown in our recent history. Instead ever since we conceded Pakistan in 1947 under duress, we have been mostly yielding time and time again.
In 1989, to obtain the release of Mufti Mohammed Sayeed’s daughter Rubaiya who had been kidnapped, five terrorists in Indian jails were set free by the V P Singh government. To save Rubaiya it was not necessary to surrender to terrorist demands. But the then government was capitulationist in outlook, or perhaps the then Home Minister was in cahoots with the terrorists, and hence did not explore them.
The third lesson to be learnt is that however small the terrorist incident, the nation must retaliate — not by measured and “sober” responses but by massive retaliation.
Our Intelligence agencies tell me in private that we have proof of terrorist training camps in PoK and Bangladesh, and if that is so, we should bomb them by dispatching our air force.
There is evidence that the FBI has presented to a district court in California of satellite photos that establish terror training camps exist near Balakot in northeast Pakistan. Indian government claims proof which has not been made public of 57 camps in Pakistani held territory and 36 camps in Bangladesh.
Many are advising Hindus to deal with the root “cause” of terrorism rather than eradicating terrorists by retaliation. And pray what is the root “cause”? According to liberals, terrorists are born or bred because of illiteracy, poverty, oppression, and discrimination. They argue that instead of eliminating them, the root cause of these four disabilities in society should be removed. Only then will terrorism disappear.
Liberals seek to deaden the emotive power of the individual and render him passive. A nation-state cannot survive for long with such a mentality. The background of some of the world’s most notorious Muslim terrorists shows that: Bin Laden, the son of a Saudi billionaire, studied engineering. His deputy Ayman al-Zawahri is an eye surgeon. The 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed graduated from an American college with an engineering degree. Flight 93 pilot Ziad Jarrah’s father is a Beirut bureaucrat who put his son through prep school. They didn’t do what they did to escape poverty.
Muslim fundamentalists have an education and an economic future, yet they still terrorise. They’re literate enough to liberally interpret their holy books, yet they still embrace jihad against Kafirs.
The fourth lesson to learn is that more than the overt threat of the terrorists in India, the more sinister corrosion of our nation state occurs from within. This corrosion provides ‘a force multiplier’ to the terrorists.
Ultimately our inference must be that terrorist masterminds have political goals and a method in their madness. An effective strategy to deter terrorism is therefore to defeat those political goals and to rubbish them by counterterrorist action.