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Splinter Groups and Terrorism


I have been inspired to write this post through caffeine sparks post about the similarity of Iraqi's and Filipinos. You can read sparks post here. While that post discussed issues from a macro point of view and history at large, I chose to look at it from a different spectacle: that of the man-at-war with himself or in his viewpoint, the world. After all, it would be rational to expect any man who would have lost his family in a war to be irrational and angry. Such is a fact of war. Again I hope to be as objective as I can. In effect, I'm going to zoom in.

What I will try arrive at is a conclusion that answer the argument of the United States that the Philippine decision to withdraw from the Iraq war will be the main reason leading to emboldening terrorists' actions against other Filipinos overseas and other nationals at large. I think such a conclusion from their end is a hasty one. As it is in science, unless any direct or indirect relationship can be shown to exist between two variables and such can be repeatedly shown to exist again and again, then, and only then can it be proven that such a relationship exists.

Following logic, we can see that the US statement is pre-mature. It is not an established fact because there can be no direct link that can be established to the statement. However, a rebuttal can be made: terrorism is a complex thing, it operates on psychology, and the within the borders of social sciences. There can be many variables, and as such this action by Manila can be just one of many variables.
Counter-argument: that is, the above argument holds only if Iraq=Terrorism, which is not true. This cited already by the 9/11 Commission Report. COULD there have been other factors that explain the increase in abductions of other nationals (except the Philippines) following the decision of Manila to withdraw from Iraq? A quick answer will be political motivation. Is it not true that even in madness is a reason? That even an irrational angry man has something inside him that fuels the anger? The problem it seems is that people think the madness in terrorism has no reasoning behind it, it might be flawed, but these guys are determined AND in their crazy ways know what they want.
My belief is that after Iraq was bombed, there was NO clear plan of action laid out that should have answered HOW to RE-Establish order and policing efforts. So after Saddam was removed you have produced a more diverse enemy. It is possible there is propaganda from all sides, and moreso you have more enemies:
  1. Any remaining legitimate terrorists cells as there is,
  2. Splinter groups and Lost Commands who without their bosses continue with their struggle,
  3. Wackos resorting to banditdry, looting (If they demand cash next time I won't be surprised),
  4. Resistance from internal warring factions wnting to control power (We know this from the Philippines --- it's so common.) History shows this to be true as well, re: Alexander. ,
  5. Any singular person seeking vengeance as a matter personal responsibility. This again is not impossible. I'm certain there is at least one person in Baghdad who is angry because his innocent son died in the hospital, or his wife or a relative was killed by US Troops, directly or indirectly,
  6. Patriotic Iraqis who view the American occupation as conquerors out for their oil: Operation Iraqi Liberation ? ; and
  7. Militants or agents who would have come from any foreign countries who have interests in Iraq's future.
The last one is a bit ontroversial and maybe bordering on conspiracy, but I will not discount that possibility. In that I do not discount other powers, neighboring countries, or other parties. This is like cutting a head of a hydra and splitting it --- only that it grows two or more heads. In effect, the more lives lost, the angrier these people get, and the more enemies you kill the more you breed, thus terrorism stays. It seems the US comment is based on the history of Abu Sayaff. De Quiros says: The Abu Sayyaf is a criminal gang, De la Cruz's captors are a political group. The Abu Sayyaf is fighting for nothing more than gain, De la Cruz's captors are fighting for nothing less than home.
Let me cite a definition by Wikipedia. I would like to use it as reference because its content is user-controlled, people contribute to its entries and article, instead of limiting any definition to some publisher's standard. Today, modern weapons technology has made it possible for a "super-empowered angry man" (Thomas Friedman) to cause a large amount of destruction by himself or with only a few conspirators, for instance, it mentions.
Wikipedia on terrorism: (highlights mine)

Terrorism is a tactic of violence that targets civilians, with the objective of forcing an enemy to favorable terms, by creating fear, demoralization, or political discord in the attacked population. "Terrorism" is a pejorative characterisation of an enemy's attacks as conforming to an immoral philosophy of violence, in a manner outside of warfare, or prohibited in the laws of war. It can be, and has been, conducted by small as well as large organizations.

Some believe that individuals or groups resort to terrorism when other avenues for change, including economics, protest, public appeal, and organized warfare, hold no hope of success (also see rioting). Therefore some argue that one approach to reduce terrorism is to ensure that where there is a population feeling oppressed, some avenue of problem resolution is kept open, even if the population in question is in the minority.

Examples of terrorism

Most people would agree that the following incidents are examples of domestic and international terrorism: the Oklahoma City bombing in the USA (April 19, 1995); the Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland (August 15, 1998); the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, USA; the Munich Massacre of Israeli Olympic athletes in 1972; and the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. See List of terrorist incidents for more examples.

The deadliest terrorist attack ever committed was the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. The deadliest terrorist attack ever planned was the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which was designed to collapse both towers and kill as many as 250,000 people. However, with even more explosives that probably would not have happened, so the deadliest terrorist attack that could've succeeded was Operation Bojinka. The first phase, which called for the death of Pope John Paul II and the bombing of 11 airliners, had a prospective death toll of about 4,000 if it had succeeded. The plot was aborted after an apartment fire in Manila, Philippines on January 5, 1995, exposed the plot to police. The terrorists were slightly more than two weeks away from implementing their plot.
Meanwhile, how does terrorism differ from Guerilla warfare? (highlighted words mine)
Wikipedia on Guerilla warfare:

Guerrilla (also called a partisan) is a term borrowed from Spanish (from "guerra" meaning war) used to describe small combat groups. Guerrilla warfare operates with small, mobile and flexible combat groups called cells, without a front line. Guerrilla warfare is one of the oldest forms of asymmetric warfare. Primary contributors to modern theories of guerrilla war include Mao Zedong and Che Guevara. While "asymmetric warfare" is the military term for guerrilla tactics, it is often referred to in the pejorative as "terrorism."

The term 'guerrilla' originates from the actions of small bands of Spanish soldiers who fought against Napolean's French army in the Peninsular War (1807-1814). The word 'guerrilla' is Spanish for "little war". The tactics employed by "guerrillas" date back to the ideas of Sun Tzu, the Chinese military strategist who lived over 2000 years ago. Sun Tzu argued that all warfare involves the employing of one's strength to exploit the weakness of the enemy. In his book, The Art of War, Sun Tzu gives several suggestions on how to defeat an enemy that is larger and better equipped than your own army.
Sun Tzu's ideas were successfully adapted by Mao Zedong, the leader of the communist forces in China. The establishment of a communist government in China was an inspiration to all revolutionaries in South East Asia. This was especially true of China's neighbour, Vietnam.
Much later in history: (Wikipedia) We have the American Revolution, the American Civil War, the Vietnam War, and Afghanistan. Further, "The United Kingdom created Auxiliary Units to conduct guerrilla warfare in the event of invasion. Before the Second World War the Official or Old IRA that fought in opposition to British control of Ireland might be called guerrillas."
Does Manila's choice to withdraw embolden terrosits desire to attack Filipinos? Since they are political, I'm sure that it will be highly unlikely that there is more attacks on the Philippines, unless we continue to affiliate ourselves with a war that is not ours. However, does our action embolden the desire of terrorists by and large? Of course it does have its psychological and positive morale effects on terrorists. I do not deny that. Terrorists see themsolves as soldiers with a purpose, and like any soldier, a won battle is a welcome war. However, it is unstatesmanly of America to pin the blame on Manila however, as if we were the fall guy, in a mess that the United States started themselves. Who started a war on wrong policy? At times there is a need to carry a big stick but other times in a war there is a need to think as well.
"Some believe that individuals or groups resort to terrorism when other avenues for change, including economics, protest, public appeal, and organized warfare, hold no hope of success."
Following the definitions above, what difference is there in the Iraqi rebels one-life wars and a non-existent weapons of mass destruction, and the United States unilateral posturing and its weapons of Mass destruction and thousands of innocent lives lost? To a mother that lost his son, I would suppose there is little difference. In the end, when the bomb dust settles, we see lives lost, and terrorists, smart as they are will not confuse Manila with Washington. As long as the policy of encroachment in other's States affairs and the unilateral posturing of Bush remains, and America will fight tit-for-tat, the hydras head continues to divide, and with more lives lost, the war on terror will not end. It shall be a monster that feeds on itself, and it's own energy --- in effect a long and protracted war that will bear down on itself until both sides say, 'How many have died by the way?'


posted by Jdavies @ 7/24/2004,


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The Author


Jdavies lives in Quezon City, Philippines and has been blogging since 2002. A brand manager in a leading technology company and a freelance new media/web strategy consultant, he has refocused his blogging from personal, political & sociological observations, to marketing-related efforts and Internet trends that are relevant to his career and branding advocacies.

About This Blog

This blog is a depot of thoughts and observations on marketing trends which remain personally relevant to the Author as far as his marketing career is concerned. Having evolved from the personal blog of Jdavies, much of the earlier work contained herein are laced with personal speculation, political views, and similar advocacies. These posts are being kept for posterity's sake and for no other reason. No effort is being made to claim that the author will not contradict himself from his previous positions or that such advocacies are absolute.


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