News

Aug 26, 2014

‘No credible threat’ from the virus of radicalisation

Radicalisation of young Muslims can be stopped easily -- by not attacking Muslim countries. But Western governments persist in treating it as a kind of virus.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

"The best defence against radicalisation is through well-informed and well-equipped families, communities and institutions," the Prime Minister claimed this morning, announcing a package of over $60 million in measures targeting "young Australians being radicalised". Wrong, PM. The best defence against radicalisation is to avoid gratuitous military attacks on Muslim countries. Who says? Baroness Manningham-Buller:
"By 2003/2004 we were receiving an increasing number of leads to terrorist activity from within the UK and the -- our involvement in Iraq radicalised, for want of a better word, a whole generation of young people, some British citizens -- not a whole generation, a few among a generation -- who were -- saw our involvement in Iraq, on top of our involvement in Afghanistan, as being an attack on Islam... Of course, also we were dealing at that time with a number of young British citizens who went to Iraq to fight not with Her Majesty's forces but against them ..."
Manningham-Buller is better known as the former head of MI5, and that was her evidence to the Chilcott inquiry in 2010, in which she explained at length how the UK's participation in the attack on Iraq substantially increased the threat of terrorism to Britons. This "young jihadis" line from the government, in co-operation with News Corp tabloids, is another stage in its hyping of the terrorist threat of the Islamic State, which has proved a useful distraction from the government's domestic problems. Not that the Abbott government is the only government doing this: the Obama administration has been guilty of the same wild hype, with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week declaring IS a greater threat than al-Qaeda and "beyond just a terrorist group". Bear in mind, for the purposes of that comparison, that al-Qaeda was claimed during the 2000s to have access to weapons of mass destruction, while IS so far has concentrated on the terrorist theatre of individual beheadings and other gruesome forms of execution. That dissonance was reflected in the fact that, at the same time that Hagel was claiming IS a bigger threat than al-Qaeda, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security were saying it posed "no specific or credible threat" to the United States. But for the purposes of the War on Terror, there must always be a bigger threat looming.
"Radicalisation is not some random event ... but a coherent response by (mostly) young Muslim men to the perception that Western governments are at war with Islamic countries."
Abbott's version of "radicalisation" is the same as that memorably articulated by ASIO head David Irvine, in which radicalisation is seen as a kind of virus that might infect one if one's security hygiene is poor, rather than a specific and, from the point of view of the individual radicalised, entirely rational response to external events. In 2011, Irvine argued that the internet was the vector for radicalisation-as-virus, saying: "The rampant use of the internet, the democratisation of communication, has resulted in new and effective means for individuals to propagate and absorb unfettered ideas and information and to be radicalised -- literally, in their lounge rooms." Irvine's conception of radicalisation was that of a disease that could strike anywhere, anytime, even in that safe domestic space of the lounge room, unless one took steps to prevent it -- with the implication that Muslims were particularly susceptible to being infected. The funding provided by Abbott today is similarly based on this approach, with funding primarily directed to law enforcement agencies to "monitor" and "disrupt" vectors of radicalisation like returned foreign fighters and extremist groups. As Manningham-Butler explained, however, radicalisation is not some random event like contracting meningitis, but a coherent response by (mostly) young Muslim men to the perception that Western governments are at war with Islamic countries. The hyping of the threat of IS -- which serves to maximise the transgressive appeal of the militants, and transgressive appeal is one of the most powerful marketing tools when it comes to young people -- and increased Western military intervention directed at IS is likely to simply renew the cycle of radicalisation. That cycle resulted in Britons carrying out terrorist bombings in the UK and British men fighting against their own country in Iraq. The question continues to be: are Western governments making the same mistakes as a decade ago in ignorance, or are they doing it deliberately, knowing full well they perpetuate the War on Terror in doing so?

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26 comments

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26 thoughts on “‘No credible threat’ from the virus of radicalisation

  1. Duncan Gilbey

    We’ve always been at war with Eastasia…

  2. rhwombat

    Hand has to be a Poe, or a Murdorc. No one sentient is willingly that publicly stupid and reactionary.

  3. Djbekka

    It’s easier to build a nationalist consensus, to sell intrusions on civil liberties, and to build up a military force if there is an enemy. Banging the threat drum is easier than building a peaceful multicultural community and consensual policies of health, education and welfare.

  4. Neutral

    Recall when Mick Keelty the then AFP Commissioner stated the bleeding obvious that there was an increased likelihood of terrorism in Australia due to our involvement in Iraq?

    Howard wasn’t concerned that he was gambling with Australian lives so Bush could bathe him in a neoconic glow as the man of steel. A wartime PM looks good yeah…

    What Howard was concerned about though was the fact that the AFP stated the bleeding obvious and more direly any polling/focusGroup reaction to the bleeding obvious.

    So he sooled his Chief of Staff Sinodinos onto Keelty who then meekly ‘qualified’ his statement shortly after.

    Howard went onto lose his seat to a ‘sheila from the ABC’. Keelty captured the sim card terrorist Mohamed Haneef and Sinodinos has gone into hiding with Eddie Obied.

    This time around: same conga line different sphincters…

  5. David Hand

    According to Newspoll, “77% of voters would support new laws that require people travelling to particular countries to prove they have not been in contact with any terrorist groups.”

    Think of it. All those stupid people ignoring the wisdom of Manningham-Buller. It’s dang awkward really. Those 77% could return the government!! There’s just too few of you in the telephone box that houses the far left “It’s all the west’s fault” brigade.

    OMG!! It’s all Murdoch’s fault!!

  6. Dan B

    Bernard Keane, you are an idiot. Do some research, thorough research on radical Islam and qualify this article, you tit.
    Radical Islam is not a byproduct of Western Nations attacking Muslim Nations. Radical Islam is a byproduct of radical Islam, fermented by pathetically selective media that focusses entirely on making excuses for something that started in the 700th century and will continue to do so until you and I are long forgotten.
    Muslims are the greatest victims of radical Islam. Radical Islamists don’t care who you are, what colour you are, where you come from, you you pray to; if you don’t follow their individual interpretations of Islam you’re fair game. Historical data supports this theory from Islam’s inception. You should read about it sometime.
    The only mistake the West makes is doing what other Muslim Nations should be doing – helping their fellow Muslims. Where are the Saudi’s, the Qatari’s, the Kuwaiti’s etc. when it comes time to face Islamic extremism? They have no intention of helping fight this cancer so the West is forced to intervene. And you guptoids from the press just can’t wait to demonise them as soon as they do it.
    Radical Islam is a virus, and it has grown since forever. And since it’s the West who (stupidly, but ethically) want to cut it out of society for good, perhaps you should think harder about which side you’re on. Because your current trajectory is only going to lead you, and the world, to more and more bloodshed.

  7. CML

    @ Dan B – Isn’t Bernard saying that we should not get involved in these Muslim religious wars in the first place? If so, what is wrong with that? You seem to say that the West is stupid to get involved because this ‘war’ has no end, so I don’t understand your point.
    My interpretation of what you write is that nothing will stop extremist Islam, since these disputes/wars have been going on since the 7th century. That’s fine, but I would like them to conduct their uncivilised behaviour in Muslim countries, NOT Australia or any other western nation.
    Which begs the question: With the best will in the world, can Muslims ever be successfully settled/integrated into western society? I have my doubts.

  8. Sailor

    Thanks for the link, Ian Brown #4.

    Forget David Hand. Not that [IMHO] he seems to be a bad bloke, it’s just that he too often seems incapable of critical thought and shows all the myopia of the committed rightard.

    Of course, he’s welcome to his opinion, but jeez, some semblance of contact with [non-cherry-picked] facts would help his train of thought a heap. As a committed member of the Liberal Party, I feel he could conceivably do a lot to stop their front bench deserving the epithet “Lieberals”.

    Dan B #15: Your comments exactly describe the activities of, for exsmple, the Inquisition, and persecution of Jews, and terror about witches.

    It does appear that Islam is at the same stage as the RC church was back in those centuries; there is a difference of just over 600 years in the development “trajectory” of the two brands of faith. Scholars of comparative religion would make more comprehensive comments, I am sure.

  9. Dan B

    CML,
    I’m not saying the West is stupid for getting involved because it has no end. I am saying, amongst other things that the West stupidly, but ethically embarks on military interventions because other Muslim countries, specifically neighbouring Muslim countries refuse to do it themselves. If not us, then who? We could get into the political for’s and against, but the fact is, real people are being slaughtered by these maniacs because of a subverted ideology that has less to do with Western intervention and more to do with what they believe their God has instructed them to do. And whether we intervene or not, Islamic fundamentalism will eventually arrive on our shores because that is the doctrine of jihad – establish an Islamic Caliphate through global conquest.
    Bernard’s opening statement “Radicalisation of young Muslims can be stopped easily — by not attacking Muslim countries” suggests not only does he not want to combat Islamic extremism, but that he would rather just curl up with a nice book and imagine it’s not real. Well it is. And like a virus that is not treated, it is festering and getting bigger, and bigger.
    Western intervention is not THE reason for the proliferation of radical Islam. But how about we start making Middle Eastern countries accountable for the proliferation of radical Islam, that is spreading beyond their borders to Western countries? I have a fair idea why, and this is where we start to enter the political spectrum.
    Society as a whole needs to understand that it is through no one’s fault that radical Islam is spreading. It is a doctrine that has been pushed throughout the ages and ignored because it’s “too frightening” to speak out against it. It is real, and it needs unabashed attention now, today – now.
    As to your final question, I really don’t know. It would take an enormous, united effort to make this happen. But then you have the agenda’s of media and Government et al who go and f*ck things up. But wouldn’t it be nice..?

  10. David Hand

    I am so over this elitist inner urban wank fest that blames Western governments for all the world’s ills.

    It’s infantile.

    And rightly ignored by most adults who vote.

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