Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A Psychiatrist's View of Asymmetric Warfare!

The item 'Coping with Asymmetric violence' by Professor K.S.Jacob is another article offering little new insight and no solutions. I can understand a professor of psychiatry elaborating on homosexuality but asymmetric warfare? Maoist insurgency? Causes of terrorism? I do not quite know what qualifies him to be an expert in that but even assuming he has done his research, some things are plainly wrong and there is not much to be said about the rest.

Here are some examples:
The war through the Salwa Judum, extra-judicial killings by the police and the use of draconian laws (for example, the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2006) fuel resentment. The abject poverty in the region and the insensitivity of governments are not circumstances that win people’s cooperation. Surely, this is no way to win hearts and minds. The status quo would mean prolonged insurgency.
Where is the evidence that Salwa Judum is fomenting terror? The big accusation against it is that it is too harsh and violating people's rights. No one has ever asserted that it is aiding the Maoists even indirectly (on the contrary, the NHRC report concluded that it was quite effective). If there were any such evidence, it would undoubtedly have been seized upon by human rights activists to shut down the campaign by now. His other argument that abject poverty leads to terror is plainly false. There are numerous papers analyzing terrorism particularly since 9/11 that have shown that the relationship between development and terror is non-linear. The most impoverished and highly developed regions have a lower risk of terrorism than moderately developed ones. So any development of an abjectly impoverished region may be expected to increase terror rather than diminish it.

Finally, his last paragraph is a gem.

Many military commanders now agree that military solutions are not the answer to conflicts in today’s world. Yet their political masters rarely concur, as it is easier to implement military responses than execute the necessary structural reforms within government and politics. Security solutions mistake activity for strategy and make war for an elusive peace.

The recent Maoist violence in West Bengal also suggests that opportunistic political alliances for partisan gains are obstacles to long-term solutions. Ideological arguments against negotiating with terrorists are used to stall dialogue.

This is again largely false. Is this man not aware of how many times negotiations have been tried at various levels with insurgent outfits? Has not the development track also been (and continues to be) attempted at various points in the belief that addressing socioeconomic grievances will cure the region of violence? When has any government in India acted ideologically rather than try practical approaches to this problem? If they have chosen not to talk, that is very much for practical reasons. What workable alternative does he have to offer besides cliches and failed strategies of the past?


Gandaragolaka said...

Again, we see the basic communist premise-- "all people, irrespective of their upbringing and culture, behave in the same way when subjected to similar conditions."

Pilid said...

Yup, that is what it is - ideology over fact. Incidentally, it reminds me of Stalin's war on genetics and his support for the spurious theories of Lysenko not despite devastating critiques of his work by the scientific community.