Personal and academic blog. Explores the borderlands between rhetoric, politics and intelligence.


The fear of a Terror Gang Planet

The Small Wars Journal presents an article by Robert Killebrew on the merging of gang warfare and terrorism. He points out that this is a latent risk, which is not publicly acknowledged at the moment, but poses a great danger to national security.

I have had the same musings regarding the illegal firework networks in Copenhagen. But the concern that Copenhagen's criminals might aid terrorists is so much more underscored by the recent wave of shootings taking place between immigrant gangs and bikers. I, for one, just need to turn the corner and look at the bullet holes in the nearby net café that was sprayed the other day.

It is remarkable that we fear terroristic attacks on Danish soil every day and only have had a few aborted plots to show for it - but that with a few days of provocations, suddenly the streets are awash with weapons and shots are being fired at random.

Imagine if you were able to energise this criminal activity in way of terrorist activity. That would be a nice solution for someone wishing to conduct a low cost, low signature terrorist attack. The glaring unprofessionalism of the Danish immigrant gangs is probably both an advantage and a disadvantage in this case. Stupid people make stupid decisions.

However, it isn't so likely. Criminals and terrorists are two different species. One is fueled by economic incentives, the other by a more intangible altruistic/ideological drive. Thus the real danger is not a convergence of the two categories, but of the practical utility. If criminals are to gain from terrorists or their sponsoring networks, why not use some of that energy on something else rather than the bikers?

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Coercing to persuade

The ever-well-read Wired "Danger Room" blog writes a little post on how artillery has been used to pave the way for talks with local sheiks in the Diyala province of Iraq. This is an aspect of persuasion that has always interested me. At times you need to use violence (a definite no-no in all rhetorical thinking, ancient and modern) as a pretext for being able to persuade and having a constructive debate.

I'm not studied enough on Clausewitz but this aspect of warfare is either an affirmation or a qualification of his famous (and over-used) dictum: War is the continuation of politics.

In the modernist interpretation (where I think we should place C. himself), this meant that war took over when politics had exhausted it's role. In the post-modern interpretation, it means that war is just politics by other means. And this last interpretation is very much in tune with the thoughts about warfare in the fourth generation warfare, new wars, etc. As the classical concept of states warring each other for power crumbles to something much more messy and sub-statey, this mixture of warfare and persuasion will take on prominence. Not that it is a new genre. In a way you could see the proxy wars of the Cold War era as an aspect of same persuasion: "Look how much destruction we can rain down on you, when you attack me. Care to have a chat about our mutual future?"

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