20/11/2019 : The Hindu Editorials Notes : Mains Sure Notes

Note –  today there are two important articles. One on child undernutrition and the other on counter terrorism.

  • Undernutrition has been covered yesterday.
  • The article on counter terrorism does not have much content. But these are the possible highlights and additions:

What is counter terrorism?

  • Counter terrorism is political or military activities designed to prevent terrorism or to respond to a terrorist attack after the attack has taken place.
  • In today’s globalized world no country is immune to the threat of terrorism.  Several countries in South Asia, including India, have been facing the challenge of terrorism and over the past few years there have been numerous acts of terror in the region. Many of these incidents are found to have complex international linkages and possible connections with transnational organised crime.
  • Terrorism is an evolving phenomenon, with terrorist organizations continuously changing their modus operandi, thereby adding to the complexity and challenges faced by criminal justice practitioners.
  • India has proposed to set up a The National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) to deal with terrorism.

An analysis of terrorism and counter terrorism:

  • According to Nick Sitter, professor of Public Policy at the School of Public Policy at CEU in his book  “Fighting Fire with Water: NGO and Counter-Terrorism Policy Tools”, There are three factors particularly important when analysing terrorism and counter terrorism:
  1. The terrorist strategy
  2. What the terrorist actually wants to achieve and,
  3. How to best fight them.
  • First , the terrorist strategy – Terrorism can be thought of as a strategy as how some rational actors think about what their goals should be and how they best pursue them. 
  • If we think of terrorism as a strategy, the best analogy is that of political jiu-jitsu (i.e. the political fighting style in which an opponent’s energy and position is used against them). The point of many terrorist groups is to try to exploit the strength of the state, to try to take the strength of the state and try to turn it against itself. Terrorism thus creates a trap that many states walk into. Almost no democracies have fallen as a consequence of terrorism but many have overreacted to terrorism and thus made terrorist groups more stronger, more popular and given them more recruits. Terrorist strategy in a sense involves setting a trap and states very often walk straight into it.
  • The second, what the terrorist want to achieve –  point is about the heterogeneity of terrorism. All these terrorist groups have an array of different names. Some want to overthrow political and economic systems, some want to become part of the political economic system and have their own states. But they have one thing in common that they all want to provoke the state to over react and it is surprising how often they succeed. 
  • This takes up to the third point which is how to best fight terrorism. In short, we have three different approaches to terrorism. 
  1. See it as a crime – send them to police
  2. See it as a security threat – send them to the army,
  3. See it as a part of a political problem and send them to the diplomats
  • Today most counter terrorist strategies involve elements of all three. It is fair to say that what most states are trying to achieve today in counter terrorist strategies is robustness. It is a strategy that is tailored to the particular threat at hand (immediate attack) but successfully dealing with terrorism takes a long term perspective rather than a short term perspective. 
  • If we learnt anything from counter terrorism is that there are no magic silver bullets. there are no quick fixes. It is almost impossible to defeat or annihilate a terrorist group. 
  • Today most states and international organisations are approaching counter terrorism policy by means which we might call containment.
  • The idea is that for the short term you can try to fight it, prevent it, you can prosecute but to some extent the states have to live with some level of political violence even if you can bring armed groups or terrorist groups into peace processes there will be dissidents who will try to spoil these processes by carrying on violent campaigns. A key point is therefore that terrorism must be contained in the long turn but not necessarily defeated overnight. 
  • In Fact efforts to defeat terrorism overnight are often counter productive because they involve strong sometimes repressive measures that end up giving the terrorists more recruits and playing into the terrorist narrative. 
  • As far as one lesson that we can learn from the liberal democracies fighting terrorism, it is that they must not abandon the moral high ground. Terrorism is best fought within the rules of law by means linked to police and intelligence and perhaps the most dangerous thing a state could do is walk in to the trap set by terrorists by adopting quick, ill considered radical legislation in the wake of a terrorist attack, rather than thinking it as a threat that must be contained both in the short term, the medium term and the long term.

What can be done?

  • First, it requires effective denial operations, to make terrorist attacks more difficult for the enemy. At the tactical level, this means simple adherence to security procedures — the attacks on the Pulwama and Pathankot air force base, for example, were costlier because of sub-standard force protection measures. 
  • Beyond security, this means addressing the grievances of the local population, which drive radicalisation. This most importantly also requires managing trade-offs: for example, heightened security measures since August 5 may help to control the population, but likely also exacerbate radical anti-India sentiment in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Second, it requires shaping operations to incentivise the adversary to limit its attacks. Thus counterterrorism must be synchronised with wider foreign policy, using harsh action through the Financial Action Task Force, or productive bilateral talks with China, to isolate Pakistan and make its strategy of supporting cross-border terrorism less appealing.
  • Third, as discussed above, it requires cultivating resilience , to reduce the political impact of terrorism because else too much harshness only leads to more recruits.

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