Friday, October 13, 2006

Problem solving

"As far as I'm concerned" said Deputy Commissioner Brian Paddick of the Met. shortly after the 7/7 bombings "Islam and terrorism are two words that don't go together".

When it was discovered that the murderous terrorists were British born, there was no problem for the police or the BBC in expressing that they were British. No mention was made of the fact that they were Muslims, though. British and terrorism can go together - Islam and terrorism can not. At least that is the perception of the BBC and Deputy Commissioner Paddick.

When someone facing a problem with an addiction seeks help, the first thing they are told to do is admit that they have a problem. Hence, someone attending an AA clinic is asked to stand up and say "My name is Joe Bloggs. I'm an alcoholic". The same principle applies to any problem. The first thing you have to do before you can attempt to tackle the problem is identify the problem. By insisting that the words Islam and terrorist do not go together, Brian Paddick is making the first mistake of problem solving.

To solve a problem you have to correctly identify the problem. An early sign of an heart attack is a tingling sensation in the arm. Cutting the arm off stops the tingling sensation, but does nothing to prevent the heart attack. The symptom of the problem we face is Islamic terrorism. Islamic terrorism is a result of Islamic fascism which is, itself, another symptom of the real cause. The root of Islamic fascism is Islam.

Don't kid yourselves that this is about Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan or American foreign policy in general. Make a note of these words from an ambassador to Britain from a North African state.

… that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise

These words were recorded by Thomas Jefferson and John Adams - future US Presidents - in 1768. A century and a half before Israel existed and long before the US was a global power. They are the response of the Tripolitan ambassador to Britain, Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, in justifying attacks by Muslim pirates on US interests.

Only when you have successfully identified the problem can you begin tackling it. Once you have identified it you have to work out what sort of a threat it is. Basically there are three levels of threat.

Low risk. You can probably ignore it and it will go away by itself without any serious impact.
Medium risk. You can mitigate the impact that it might have on you, but this will require compromise.
High risk. You have to take immediate remediatory action or risk serious damage.

We've been through the "low risk" phase by adopting the appeasement approach. It didn't go away. We're now into the "medium risk" phase where our government are attempting to mitigate the threat by increasing the restrictions on our civil liberties. ID cards, CCTV surveillance, airport and train station security checks are all attempts to mitigate the risk. These restrictions will continue and will increase until eventually we move the level of threat to "high risk".

The trouble is, if you leave it too long to recognise that the threat is high risk, it will be too late. By then, our civil liberties will have been eroded so far that life has become intolerable and we'll be living in a state as oppressive as any Islamic republic - or we'll be well on the road to being that Islamic Republic.

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