To begin to develop a working answer to the question of whether education and security are enough to counter-terrorism in contemporary societies around the world let us reflect on a number of ideas regarding terrorism.
1.) The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe reported in a press release in 2002:
“Democratic deficits, disparities in the levels of economic and social development between nations and regions, social inequalities and regional conflicts – these represent a fertile breeding ground for terrorists and criminals,” Minister Martins da Cruz said.” (Retrieved 12-1-2013 from: http://www.osce.org/mc/54887).”
That insight of Minister Martins da Cruz remains relevant today. Socially we are in a need to understand the reality of terrorism, to look at “the root causes” of terrorism and read “the act” of terror enacted upon a population in that light. In this sense we can develop a sensible, practical strategy to deal with terror. Without comprehending the causes of terror society can never take an offensive strategy in dealing with the reality of terrorism and will always live in the shadow of the fear of terroristic threats. Essentially making all of us scared of a boogey man.
The ethical responsibility of those who are concerned with the problem of terrorism in today’s world is that we look at the problem holistically. To do so we need to look at the causes of the problem as well as its effects (results). To condemn terrorism is not a solution but rather a pledge of allegiance that has no real power. In short, our condemnation runs no further than words. Taking a strong power stance against terrorism is not an offensive strategy in the real sense. What an offensive strategy looks like is that we are able to identify the causes of terrorism and work to manage the conditions that give rise to potential terror threats and acts.
Terror is no longer the act that is politically motivated against the state or a population through unconventional acts of violence. Subsumed under terror is the student who lost it and decides to murder off his classmates and teachers and anyone else. Terror is also the robber who takes a bank by storm and holds everyone is suspense so that they are not certain whether death or injury is next. Terror takes on a number of forms. But terror is just one more manifestation of violence. In order to deal with terror we need a holistic approach. Morocco is taking a practical approach to deal with the issue of militancy which is a channel for terrorism by looking at the conditions that give birth to militancy.
2.) In a recent interview a representative of Morocco was quoted as saying:
“Our multidimensional approach to fighting [Islamic] extremism and focusing on human development can be a solution” for other countries, Moroccan Deputy Foreign Minister Mbarka Bouiada told The Washington Times. (Retireved 12-1-2013 from: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/nov/25/morocco-trains-500-imams-to-counter-spread-of-radi/#ixzz2mHCLi0sQ)”
Let us look at a the three prong strategy that Morocco is taking to confront the problem when it is tied to religion.
“Morocco has a three-pronged approach to countering jihadi terrorism. First, it deals with jihadis primarily as a law enforcement matter, relying on its internal security services rather than its military to disrupt plots and capture perpetrators. Morocco also has a strong capability for domestic surveillance and intelligence gathering. Morocco’s security services monitor both groups suspected of extremist activity in Morocco and similar groups in nearby countries. To this end, it works closely with United States and its regional and international partners to identify suspects entering Morocco and stop their transit. The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has assisted the Moroccan police and security forces in expanding capabilities and capacities. For example, the DoJ’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program has provided training and technical assistance to Morocco’s Royal Gendarmerie Laboratory and the National Police Laboratory to facilitate their pursuit of international accreditation. Also, the DoJ and the FBI have trained Moroccan police and prosecutors on the use of online investigations and electronic evidence, under the Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT), one of the DoJ’s primary counterterrorism assistance mechanisms.7
Second, the Moroccan government has sought to alleviate what it believes to be the root causes of terrorism by using what one official called “soft power” in society. By providing healthcare and job training to the poor, expanding rural infrastructure, and improving the overall livelihood of Moroccans, the Moroccan government hopes to counter the appeal of extremist messages and ideologies, especially among the poor and disadvantaged. The Moroccan government considers U.S. development assistance to be supportive of that effort. An example of this assistance is the Millennium Challenge Compact for Morocco, which includes investment in expansion of fruit tree agriculture (including olives, nuts, and dates); support for small-scale fisheries and fish markets; enhancement of the artisanal sector in the city of Fes; and training for small-scale businesses across all these sectors, with an emphasis on training (including literacy training) for women and youth.8 The Moroccan government also considers political reforms and increased attention to human rights issues as additional components of its efforts to combat the root causes of terrorism. Third, the Moroccan government seeks to counter the jihadi ideology inside the country by reinforcing the influence of Morocco’s traditional school of Maliki Islamic law. It does this by upgrading places of worship, closing unregulated mosques, rehabilitating those who have been convicted of a terror-related crime, promoting Moroccan religious values on television and radio, and modernizing the teaching of Islam.
Following the lead of Dr. Erich Fromm I move to declare terrorism a form of violence and therefore argue that in order to begin to understand terrorism we must understand violence and its causes. This will help us benefit greatly from any insights that we can gain from programs initiated in places like Morocco to build leaders who are capable of addressing the issue of violence not only from religious centers but also from schools and in local community centers etc.
Dr. Erich Fromm teaches us that violence comes from a socio-psychological crisis that needs to be resolved and more deeper from an existential crisis, a crisis of meaning. He provides us a strong interpretation of violence and human psychology and affords us an insight into its causes. In sum, he speaks of the need for love and productive activity. These insights help us understand the role that family, education and economy have in contributing to violence in society in its various manifestations. He highlights the psychological and social features which instigate violence in society, in relationships and upon self when these are absent. The insight of Cruz in the OSCE press report is relevant because it is reflective of the need for a political approach in addition to a psychological approach. And finally the contemporary relevance Fromm’s study of violence helps us to see value as well in the role of religion is addressing the problem. In this sense the efforts of the Moroccans to counter terrorism may be of some practical value given that they are tackling the problem of terrorism (violence) from an educational perspective as well as that of security.
In any event ignoring the insights of Fromm, in his study on violence, will only serve to undermine our ability to provide a real healthy long term approach to violence because it dismisses the core of the problem at the socio-psychological planes. Dealing with violence demands a multi-prong solution and understanding the role of disconnectedness from others plays in this will help us understand terrorism not just as in the case of religious and political militancy but also in the case of social breakdown as we see in our schools. Education and security are not enough to deal with the issue of terrorism or better said violence in general. We need a more humanistic outreach. It may be the case that Morocco is leading us in that but then again we have still yet to learn from the violence of World War II and the causes of the war and what that meant for various populations in society. And still we have to learn of what it means to live in a society of social breakdown and personal collapse -psychological and spiritual breakdown. So no education and security are not enough but only a starting point to deal with a bigger problem. A crisis of life purpose and respect for life.