1. Raven
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    Raven Banned

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    Top Cop Says UK Should Talk To Al Qaeda

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Raven, May 30, 2008.

    One of the UK's most senior policemen has said Britain should negotiate with al Qaeda in a bid to end its campaign of violence.

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    Sir Hugh Orde, head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said he could not think of a single terrorism campaign in history that ended without negotiation.

    He is reportedly a front-runner to be the next commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

    Sir Hugh told The Guardian that 30 years of tackling the IRA convinced him that policing - detecting plots and arresting people - was not enough alone to defeat terrorists.

    He said: "If you want my professional assessment of any terrorism campaign, what fixes it is talking and engaging and judging when the conditions are right for that to take place.

    "Is that a naive statement? I don't think it is ... It is the reality of what we face.

    "If somebody can show me any terrorism campaign where it has been policed out, I'd be happy to read about it, because I can't think of one."

    Sir Hugh admits that negotiating with terrorists means "thinking the unthinkable".

    He said some of the biggest risks his officers took were talking to people that "historically they would not have dreamed of talking to".

    He cites his 2004 meeting with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams as an example of how one-time enemies can become partners in peace.

    Asked if he was saying "we should talk to al Qaeda", Sir Hugh said: "I don't think that's unthinkable, the question will be one of timing."

    He said Irish terrorists still wanted to bomb the UK mainland but lacked the capability.

    They were still attempting to buy weapons but were disorganised, "psychopathic" and probably numbering no more than 200 people, he said.
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Hmmm. Well the American way of dealing with Al Qaeda has failed, and to be fair Britain has had more experience dealing with terrorists. Less than fifteen years ago, the IRA were still conducting terrorist activities in Britian (which were funded by the US, actually...), and now they have been effectively emasculated, through a combination of police crackdowns and political negotiation. I think this suggestion merits more consideration than it will at first receive...
     
  3. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    Al Qaeda is on the ropes Banzai. More and more Muslims are seeing them as killers of Muslims, and failing to defeat the Great Satan.
    Through the 90's and until 2003, Al Qaeda had struck against US targets in the Middle East and suffered very little. They were seen as hero's to the people who opposed the Western influence in their countries. So they got support and money.
    Then they did 9/11. Supporters around the world saw it as a high point in their Jihad to liberate the Middle East, and to force the great unbelievers of the world to recognize their power.
    They didn't like what happened after. Afghanistan a big center point of Al Qaeda has fallen. Al Qaeda and the Taliban are still around, but ONLY because they can flee and regroup in the uncontrolled border areas of Pakistan. To make money for weapons and to pay their troops they have resorted to dealing with drug cartels, which isn't making them look particularly faithful.
    Worse yet for them is Iraq. The US invaded and set up a government. So the Middle East went from having limited US bases inside the countries and some small US backed countries, to having a huge US military force and a US backed government inside one of the most powerful Middle Eastern countries.
    If Al Qaeda had been able to foment a true civil war and force the US to leave they would have gained a lot of praise.
    Instead Al Qaeda ended up killing thousands of Muslims with suicide bombs, not really hurting the US (the US loses the same number of troops to accidents as it has lost in Iraq each year), and the US and US backed government is stronger than ever.
    The only negotiations the US or any of its allies should be doing with Al Qaeda is this, "Lay down your arms, go back to your homes and stay there. This is your only warning."
     
  4. Al B
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    Al B Senior Member

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    I think it's a bit of a naive assessment of how the troubles in Northern Ireland came to a close (and they have not totally ceased). Historically, the Irish Catholic population was on the increase in comparison to the Protestant populace. So, purely from a demographic viewpoint, all the Catholics really had to do was bide their time and they would be able to win through the ballot box rather than the bomb, and that is what has transpired for the most part.

    Much of the trouble in Northern Ireland of course had very little to do with politics, but was more of a turf war between rival drug dealers who merley used the religious/political struggle as a means to wage their war. Not all were doing it for that reason, but many were. Like most things, it's rarely as simple as it is painted, and so negotiating with what is often seen as 'one organisation' when it is nothing of the kind, is problematic.

    Negotiating with 'Al quaeda' presents similar problems. There is a lot of misunderstanding where it is concerned. 'Al quaeda' translates as 'the base', it having been an informal nickname terrorists gave to a base camp they used some years ago. These days, the term is used as a collective noun for an unknown number of groups and factions which all muster under the same general political/religious banner.

    There is no membership card for Al quaeda, no headquarters, and no number to call to speak to the boss so you might negotiate. Many Al quaeda groups simply spring up under their own steam, with no central contact or motivation other than a general conscensus with those other similarly isolated groups. There are of course 'big cheeses' who one might negotiate with, and these can have some influence on how splinter factions act as their edicts filter down to the general mood of people who might see themselves as part of Al quaeda, but there really is no 'on/off switch' for such a movement.

    Al
     
  5. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    Everyone's entitled to their own opinion. Unforturnately, some people's opinions are based on poorly thought out perceptions of personal and historical reality. If you're going to give an opinion, especially one concerning political/cultural conflict, it would be beneficial to yourself and your target audience if you had a correct analysis, as opposed to simplistic generalisations that rubbish cultural and political beliefs and aspirations. I'm speaking here from an Irish perspective more than anything else.
    Whether it's right or not to speak to the likes of Al Qaeda or the IRA, etc, why not? The reality is that it has happened - is happening - and in all eventualities, will always happen, especially if any kind of progress is to be developed. History (recent and older) shows us that there is always a line of communication going on or being developed behind the public eye. Propoganda only serves the purposes of whoever publishes it. The 'reality' usually only shows itself after the fact, often many years down the line.
    So, yeah, I say speak to whoever can be spoken to if it means understanding can be developed and conflict ended.
     
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I don't have an answer either way. My humble opinion is that:

    1) Al Qaeda is an extremist faction of the Muslim peoples and should never be mistakenly seen as representative of the peoples of that faith. In America the KKK see themselves as righteous Christians. Are they representative of all Christians? No.

    2) Al Qaeda is a militant religious group. Religion does not answer to reason. Do I think the hammer-fisted American plan is working. Absolutely not. Al Qaeda is like a cobra. You can kill one, but there will always be many more, and a cobra has no capacity to listen to reason. Better to just not live where they are.
     
  7. Al B
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    Al B Senior Member

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    Speaking from the point of view of someone whose father was actually involved in the Anglo-Irish negotiations, in that he was a politician for over twenty years, and the fact that his family, i.e. me, my mother and my sister were threatened with death by the IRA because of his involvement in those negotiations (despite him having been a Catholic), I should like to point out that my perspective is not based upon a simplistic generalisation, nor a lack of knowledge of the ins and outs of the matter. I know rather more about all that kind of thing than most people would care to. I'm also the godfather of a child whose real father was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center, so I've been on the receiving end of aftermath of Al quaeda's actions too.

    Al
     
  8. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    Wreybie I'd agree with you to some extent. Unfortunately a number of their supporters have arrived where we live and want to make us live by their rules.
    Look at the various Al Qaeda supporters captured in London. The Muslim youths rioting in France, you can find maps of major French cities that advice you not to go Edit to certain neighbourhoods due to violence /Edit. Various Muslims in the US and Canada that are demanding polygamy, honour killings, and refuse to let seeing eye dogs ride in their taxi's, because it is their religious right. Also extremists threatening death to cartoonists, and killing directors in Belgium. Most of these are second or third generation immigrants.
    So we need to either throw all Muslims out, a VERY BAD idea.
    Roll over and die for them.
    Or use the carrot and the stick method, which I personally like.
    When Al Qaeda or one of its supporters, Like Al B said its more of an umbrella organization, raises its head we need to destroy it.
    You kill enough of the cobras, and any Muslims that may be thinking of joining them will likely rethink it.
    For the carrot, we should make sure we respect any law abiding Muslims that are in our countries or in countries we are currently occupying. In some places show them that Western values, money, and technology can work beside their beliefs, and make them better off. It took too long because of screw ups, but Iraq is turning peaceful, and the citizens are looking at the West as a more reliable and safer partner than Al Qaeda and similar groups.
    As for negotiations, keep it informal and limited to the followers. The followers that want to leave should be allowed to do so. They can almost always drop their weapons and go home. The Canadian military in Afghanistan has informal contact with the Taliban. Those that want to leave just have to turn over their weapons and they can go home. Or just go home and leave their weapons behind. If they go the Canadians and offer info, they are rewarded.
    For the leaders I've heard of some cases where minor leaders have turned. They've been allowed to go home, or become our allies, but only if they are willing to leave Al Qaeda or the Taliban completely.
    This is good.
    But to give Al Qaeda's leaders legitimacy by talking to them would once more make them seem more powerful than they are. Until they manage to take over a country, or defeat us in the battlefield lets not give them that benefit.
     
  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I actually agree with many of your points. What I feel is the crux of the matter is that we approach this subject with questions and methods which come from epistemologies other than that of religion. I’m sure you understand the concept, but for those who are unfamiliar with the concept of crossed epistemologies, the following:

    You cannot measure god with a ruler. (Science vs. Religion)

    The Bible or the Talmud will not help you with your trigonometry (Religion vs. Science)

    Neither of the aforementioned concepts will explain the beauty of a Van Gogh. (Religion & Science vs. Esthetics)


    There are different ways to come to different kinds of knowledge. And I repeat, religion does not answer to reason, which is a part of the epistemology of science. It is simply an inappropriate tool to use in order to attempt to tackle this issue. It is from the wrong toolbox, so-to-speak.

    Do I have an answer? Nope! Otherwise I would be on the cover of Time magazine. But I do know what is not the answer.

    Religion and the capacity for extremism within religion is, for me, a fascinating and frightening phenomenon. It has been the root of some of the most interesting parts of human history. Unfortunately, interesting history is not usually thought of as interesting to those who are living through it, as we are now.
     
  10. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    Irrispective of one's experience (we all have our stories to tell), it is a simplistic generalisation to say the oppressed people of the North of Ireland could have simply waited until they'd out-bred the 'other side', or that 'druglords' went to war for more than thirtyfive years against religious opponents, or the British state, to gain control over their 'turf'. When almost half the people of a State are treated as second-class citizens for generations, unable to vote unless you owned a house, or work unless your 'master' wished so, it's very difficult to just sit there and take it like a man/woman. Such injustice is the very reason the conflict developed. It has nothing to do with demographics, or time. The time came (as a result of what was happening in France and America) when those who oppressed had to be made aware of their folly, which is what the Irish Civil Rights campaign of the late Sixties was all about. The Anglo/Irish conflict reignited after the people who had been on bended knee rose up after being continuously forced down and fought back against their abusers. Yes, there were horrors on all sides, and very many disagreed with the IRA's methodology, but the reality is that no war is clean and it's also important to accept that there is no hierarchy of victimhood. Equally important to understand is that war, in itself, cannot win. All conflict situations must eventually come to a point where the necessity of negotiation outweighs anything else. That's why it's inevitable, no matter how distasteful to combatants or noncombatants, that lines of communication have, are, and will be developed to achieve some form of resolution. That's what conflict resolution is about. True, fundamentalists, of any hue, will find it difficult to listen to those they blame for their political and culteral woes but, without the willingness of all sides to, at least, contemplate opening lines of communication, well, we'd never have had resolution of the struggle in South Africa or Ireland, as well as the many other conflict situations around the world which are in varied states of resolution at present. I certainly don't mean to insult or diminish anyone's opinion, but it's important to get things right if there's to be true understanding on all sides.
     

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