Brussels has become the latest victim of political violence in an increasingly violent world. In a release by CAGE today, our organisation has called for calm when we’re thinking about the ways in which we respond. Our thinking must become long term, as the short-term policies of the War on Terror have resulted in an increasingly dangerous world.
CAGE takes as our starting point, that the barbarisation of warfare has resulted in an inescapable cycle of violence, one that has become almost impossible to break. The question then has to be, how is it that we even begin to conceive of a model that takes us away from further brutal tactics? With the Islamic State having promised further attacks against western targets after the Paris attacks, and think tanks such as the Institute of Studying War claiming that it is time to extend the notion of collateral damage and civilian casualties, there is more need than ever to think about how we respond. As Peter Hitchens wrote last year in a column, now is the time to, “…calm down and THINK.”
Last year, In CAGE’s response to the assassination of Emwazi, we chose to focus on the statements of the mothers of Jihadi John’s victims, for it is through them that perhaps we can start to rethink how we break the violence we see in the world today. As commented by Diane Foley, the mother of executed journalist James Foley:
“All people in law enforcement have to be very aware of people’s rights and respect during a very difficult situation…People have the need for respect, no matter who they are and where they are.”
“Huge effort to go after this deranged man filled with hate when they can’t make half that effort to save the hostages while these young Americans were still alive.”
Diane Foley’s grace at a time of immense suffering for her and her family is perhaps the starting point for us to begin our rethinking responses to the threat of terrorism and political violence.
In an interesting take on these issues, last year the BBC aired two episodes of Dr Who entitled The Zygon Invasion and The Zygon Inversion. These episodes clearly dealt with important issues relating to ISIS, radicalisation, immigration, fear and violence. The Zygons are a species invited to live on the Earth and integrate into society by taking on human appearance. From among them emerges a group that believes all Zygons who have integrated into the society are traitors, and begins a process of trying to cause a conflict to emerge between the humans and Zygon kind.
As an immigrant community, the rest of the Zygons begin to be treated with a great deal of suspicion as Dr Who humorously quips about the humans worried that the Zygons will pinch their benefits. All of the suspicion and killing ultimately results in a tense moment where the commander of the Zygon splinter group faces off with a human – both being given the opportunity to destroy one another. It is here Dr Who interjects with perhaps the most pertinent logic for this discussion.
“You! Just want cruelty to beget cruelty. You are not superior to people who were cruel to you, you are just whole bunch of new cruel people. A whole bunch of new cruel people, being cruel to some other people, who will end up being cruel to you. The only way anyone can live in peace, is if they are willing to forgive. Why don’t you break the cycle?”
“How many hearts broken? How many lives shattered? How much blood will spill until everyone will do what they had to do in the beginning – sit down and talk!”
All of the violence we see in the world today has to, at some point, have a breaking point, otherwise it will only continue to perpetuate further savagery and barbarism. I am someone who believes in the right of self defence, however, I have over the years come to believe more in breaking the cycle of violence as a solution to peace. Violence cannot end this war that is taking place.
In perhaps, what is the most significant moment of these Dr Who episodes, there is a moment when those who have the ability to destroy, choose a different path instead. Except, in this circumstance, it is the humans who take their finger off the trigger first, showing leadership and allowing for a space for the other to learn from that example. Groups like ISIS do pose a threat to Muslims and non-Muslims around the world, but how does the world show them leadership at a time when violence is the only economy of exchange between all sides? Maybe, if we took our finger off the trigger, we may allow for that very example to be shown.
CAGE continues to advocate for rational dialogue and adherence to the principles of the rule of law and justice, as a means of ending terror and the War on Terror.
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)