How the Good Intentions of a Left-Wing Economist Lead to Bad Results

By Con George-Kotzabasis May 19, 2016

The following is an unconsummated reply to professor Andrew Leigh’s lecture with the title, “Markets Monopolies and Moguls…” held at Melbourne University, on May 19, 2016. This was due to the chairman’s instruction that only a sprinkle of questions would follow the end of the presentation and there would be no debate

I’m overly distrustful of people who use scarecrows, in this case the “mogul” Richard Pratt, to make their argument. Moreover, it is a term associated with sinister practices and easily tantalizes and incites the feelings of the crowd to purge the evildoers. But more dismally it is wrong in your case, as it is an exercise in a fallacy of composition: Just because there are few rotten apples in the cart it does not mean that all apples are rotten. The unprecedented prosperity of capitalism was not engendered by rottenness but by the creative, innovative, and dynamic spirit of entrepreneurship.

The great economic historian, Fernand Braudel, depicts the shifts of capitalist centres and their entrepreneurial moguls, from Venice, Genoa, Antwerp, Amsterdam, London, to New York, spreading boundless prosperity to these metropolises and their environs by means of the ceaseless division of labour, international trade and the capitalist dynamic ethos of entrepreneurial creation. It was the sun-king of entrepreneurial capitalism that had pulled millions of people out of the sunless caves of poverty into the sunlit vistas of capitalist plenitude, heightening their standard of living, for the first time in history, on ever-higher plateaus.

(The scientific writer, Arthur Koestler, contends that the great discoveries of science were motivated by ambition, competition, and vanity, which happen also to be the inherent characteristics of capitalist moguls.)

You have mentioned a lot of negatives about “bigness” and market concentration but not the fact that they rather have a short life since there is no blockage of entry in a competitive economy to other entrepreneurs into these concentrated areas. One example, the entry of the innovative entrepreneur ALDI into the food-chain services and its reduction of the prices of its products in comparison to other chains, not only attracted many consumers to its stores but also forced the other two major super markets of COLES and WOOLWORTH to reduce their prices at the feel of the competitive pinch of the newcomer. Competition does not discriminate between big and small but it equally affects both.

But to deal with your argument that inequality should be a major consideration in competition policy, and regulating mergers and prices would be beneficial to the consumer. The competitive market in itself, without the need of regulation, spreads its cheaper products to an ever-greater number of consumers and therefore decreases inequality. The competition of Telstra and Optus is an example. The same applies to iPods. Ride a train, a bus, or a tram and you will see even the lower classes fully equipped with these cheaper gadgets of a competitive technology and once again the line of inequality is lowered down for the less wealthy consumer.

It is not the business of government to regulate mergers and pricing. This is the bailiwick of entrepreneurs who decide if such a merger will be profitable, whether it will be able to compete with an already established corporation producing the same product, and setting its price on such a level that it will attract consumers to buy its product en masse. Furthermore, as far as the regulation is close to the estimates and interests of the entrepreneurs it is superfluous; and as far as it is distanced from these estimates and interests, it is destructive. No businessman will invest his money in a venture where profit is unattainable. Hence, your regulation, that aborts the setting-up of a merger that would produce cheaper products for the consumer, by depriving the latter from having these goods, increases the inequality of the mass consumer. Not surprisingly, as often happens, good intentions lead to bad results.

Therefore, your proposal of government dirigisme as a panacea in regards to competition and regulation is inutile, fanciful, and fallacious, and more perniciously may turn out to be a destructive force.

I rest on my oars: Your turn now

 

 

 

 

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Barbarians Inside the Gates

The following paper was written on October 9, 2004. It’s republished here as a result of the ominous events occurring in the north-west of Iraq and the capture by fanatic Islamists of Mosul and their proclamation of a Caliphate. It is noteworthy that many of its jihadists are citizens of the USA, UK, Europe, and Australia.

By Con George-Kotzabasis 

A deadly Trojan horse has been placed in the midst of the metropolises of Western civilization and, like Troy, is threatening its destruction. Throughout Europe, North America, and Australia, the belly of this deadly Horse is already bursting open delivering and unleashing a horde of fanatic barbarians on the cities of the civilized world, whose holy agenda decrees the wiping -out of Western institutions and their open, tolerant and free societies, and the genocide of their peoples by the fire of Allah’s hell.This is the nightmare scenario that countries of the economically developed and free world are facing as a result of their humanitarian and generous, but replete with folly, immigration policies that allowed such vast numbers of mostly unassimilable Muslim immigrants with ‘exponential’ birth rates, to become permanent residents and citizens of their countries. (In the Netherlands almost one third of children under the age of thirteen are Muslim. No wonder that the great Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis argues, that “Europe will be Islamic by the end of the century”.) As inexorably, not an insubstantial number of these Muslims of the diaspora will become terrorist – fodder for the likes of bin Laden, as Mohammed Atta, the Western educated ringleader, as well as so many other terrorists who have been also educated in Western universities, as the murderous group of 9/11 has shown, whose terrorist cell was hatched in Hamburg Germany. This is especially so for many young unemployed Muslims in the West, who have been brought up within the strict confines of their rigid religion and who are therefore psychologically more susceptible to the calls of their fundamentalist imams for a Jihad against the infidels, making them therefore prone to become martyrs in this holy war against them. Hence the terrorist barbarians are not at the gates of civilization but inside its gates.

September 11 was a wake up call to all governments of the democratic world to the mortal threat that Muslim fundamentalists posed to their peoples. However, despite the exploding sound of this call, only a few governments are willing to recognize this great danger -whose gathering dark clouds teeming with lightning bolts are hovering over the cities of the world threatening their peoples with total annihilation -and stand-up against it. Apparently, only a handful of them have the intellectual capacity, imagination, and historical insight to perceive this great danger, and the resolve and moral mettle to take the necessary relentless measures and actions to prevent this catastrophe of biblical proportions from happening. America, Britain, Australia, Italy, Poland and the thirty other countries who have deployed their armed forces to fight global terror in Iraq under their politically and morally strong and historically savvy leaderships, will be acknowledged and renowned by history as the countries that saved Western civilization from this lethal attack by this horde of fanatically necrophilous barbarians. The no quarter given, relentless retaliation of these governments to this existential challenge of global terrorism to the civilized peoples of the world, will be totally justified by future historians, as has been the stand of those nations who fought against Nazi and Communist totalitarianism and who made the necessary and stupendous sacrifices to save the world from these two regimes of evil in the Twentieth century.

 

DESPITE US ERRORS AN WITHDRAWAL IS UNTENABLE

Even if one concedes that serious mistakes have been made by the Americans post March 2003 after the defeat of Saddam, which was part and parcel of the war against global terror, such as indiscriminately disbanding all Iraqi military units, and not dealing with the incipient insurgency of urban terrorists last April by using overwhelming force against it and nipping it in the bud, instead of ceasing their military offensive, as they did in Fallujah, and passing the control of that city to a former Iraqi general, who proved to be completely inept in disarming the insurgents. The strategic goal of the military planners against the insurgency, should have been the prompt and devastating defeat of the insurgents in this city, either by their mass capture or mass annihilation, which would serve as a deadly example to all other insurgents in other hot-bed provinces in Iraq, with the high probability that this would have led to their complete demoralization and surrender, as I had suggested in a previous paper of mine last April, which was sent to the U.S. Embassy in Canberra. (It seems now that the Pentagon is using exactly this strategy, as the capture of Samarra by American and Iraqi forces and the elimination of the insurgents, has shown.) As the outcome of this erratic implementation of the Pentagon’s military plan, by starting an offensive against the insurgents and then stopping it halfway before achieving its goals, Iraq has now become “the crucible of global terror”, to quote Tony Blair. This is the glaring fact that all governments who have committed themselves to fight global terror are presently confronting.

To turn tail and run now from Iraq would not be merely foolish, it would be the greatest military error against the war on terror, as it would deliver a tremendous victory to the terrorists on a global scale. It would reinforce in the minds of the terrorists, as the withdrawal of US forces from Beirut and Mogadishu had done, as a result of the casualties Americans had suffered in these two cities, by presidents Reagan and Clinton respectively, that America and other Western nations lack the resolve to stand-up to them and fight, and will induce them to be even more lethally aggressive against the ‘cowardly’ West. Hence the critics and opponents of the war, who blame the Bush administration for exacerbating terrorism in Iraq and call for the US withdrawal from Iraq, are purblind and cannot see that such action would be the greatest error that one could commit against the war on global terror. It would surpass by a great order of magnitude all the mistakes that the Pentagon committed in Iraq. If indeed the opponents of the war are right, that the US incursion of the country and the overthrow of Saddam has strengthened and intensified terror in Iraq, then the reasonable course for nations who believe that there is no other alternative but to fight and defeat this global menace, would be for these nations to deploy their armed forces in Iraq and inflict a deadly blow on global terrorism, by defeating the insurgents decisively. Or if they are unwilling to spill the blood of their own soldiers, they should at the least support morally and politically the soldiers of the nations, i.e., the American – led coalition, who are brave enough to sacrifice their own lives in the cause of global security and freedom.

This would be the wise course to follow, to correct the mistakes of the Americans, instead of aggravating and compounding these mistakes, by running away from Iraq, and in spite of these errors (in all wars errors are made ), to unflinchingly support America in this historic and deadly confrontation with these medieval barbarians, whom only America’s military might can defeat comprehensively, among all other nations in the world.

 

THE ENEMY WITHIN

But the war against global terror and Muslim fanaticism will not be won, unless the governments who have pledged themselves to fight global terror also deal with and tackle the cunning and deceitful enemy that lies within their borders. To carry out this far from easy task, these governments have to realize that they can no longer be tolerant, on the basis of laws of non-discrimination on religious grounds, to the breeding grounds of terrorism that entangle, ivy-like, the edifices of Western cities, i.e., the mosques and Islamic schools, of whom a minority of, but highly influential, imams and teachers, preach hate against the mores of Western civilization and of their peoples, inciting young Muslims to enlist in a holy war against the Great Satan, America, and on all other nations that embody the cosmopolitan values of Judeo-Greco-Roman civilization.

The cardinal question therefore is, how to sterilize and make barren the breeding grounds of terrorism that are ensconced in the cities of the West whose deadly offspring are the enemy within. Since the idea of repatriation and resettlement by means of a monetary incentive for millions of Muslims, who have now made their home in Western countries, is no longer feasible – fathered by that prophet of British politics Enoch Powell, who in his Birmingham “Rivers of Blood” speech on April 20 1968, clearly and ominously predicted the deadly conflicts that would arise between Britons and British citizens of colonial background who had settled in England, and who with prescience had opposed the so called humanitarian immigration policies of both Labor and Conservative governments – one has to consider other lines of action. One of them would be the immediate cessation of funding these mosques and schools by governments, unless the former adopt in their curricula a primary undiluted course of ‘no leaks’ assimilation for their students to the mainstream culture of the nation that they have chosen freely to live in, and put an end to all ‘traffickers’ of the disastrous policy of multiculturalism, which with mathematical precision divides a nation. Another one would be the swift passing of special, indeed emergency, legislation that would make it easier for the police and for the relevant government officials to jail or deport, radical imams and teachers who propagate, either openly or cunningly and insidiously, a holy war against the West. Furthermore, to attenuate and diminish the high birth rate of Muslim families, governments should introduce a policy of negative incentives, which could stop this high birth rate such as paying to all families of the nation, children’s allowances up to the number of four children. Any children born beyond that number would not be entitled to any allowances. Nor would any allowances be paid to children born from a second marriage, whose fathers or mothers already have four children from their previous marriages. This measure would bring the birth rate as close as it is possible to the common standard of Western societies and to the ethos and aspirations of motivated modern nuclear families. It would also stop the ‘racketeering’ of phony separations and single motherhoods, whose deliberate purpose is to abuse and defraud the system of family payments, and whose side – effect is, the perennial continuation of voluntary unemployment among this group of men and women. 

Undoubtedly, these harsh measures will raise a hurricane of protests from Muslim organizations of the diaspora and from Muslim states. This will be followed by a chorus of international lawyers and of the liberal intelligentzia from the well-heeled countries of the West, who will denounce these measures as brutal and heartless to poor families, viciously racist, and chauvinistic, striking a terrible blow to democracy and opening the way to an authoritarian state and even worse. But this soft potpourri of legal and intelligence gnomes are unwilling to recognize, and it might be beyond their depth, that the grossly mistaken immigration policies of the nations of the West are now coming to haunt them with their destruction. And the only way to prevent this destruction is for the governments of these nations to take tragically severe measures to correct this gross mistake of past governments that now threatens their peoples with extinction, either by weapons of mass destruction or by the upshot of demographics.

 

DEFEAT OF TERROR LIES IN ITS LACK OF SUCCESS

One must recognize that the terrorists are technically educated barbarians, with PC’s in one hand and with the distorted fragments of the Koran in the other – who consider it to be the only fountain of knowledge – lacking the open- mind of a universal education; unread in the great writings and literature of all peoples and of all ages; mentally untouched by their rich Arab culture, literature and philosophy; unread in the great philosophical writings of Al-Farabi, who placed rationality above the revealed truth of the Sharia nor in the equally brilliant writings of Ibn-Sina (Avicenna ) and of Ibn-Rushid (Averroes ), who both placed human reason above religion, and of Omar Khayyam, who never believed in Providence or in any other World but this one, valuing the sensual pleasures of this world as the fill to the brim of life. Being ignorant of the existence of this great Arab intellectual treasure, that was an essential element of the cornerstone of Western civilization and of the Italian Renaissance, their minds locked in the fanaticism of fundamentalist Islam and its death-cult, they have no respect for any other peoples’ religions except their own. Instead they zealously believe that the followers of all other religions are destined to go to hell and only Muslims will enter the gates of infinite paradise, especially if they are anointed by martyrdom. It is of such stuff that these implacable enemies of Western civilization are made.

Confronting such suicidal fanatics, who fervently believe that the West and its Great Satan, America, are responsible and culpable for all the ills that have befallen upon Muslim countries; determined to destroy this source of evil by chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, as soon as they are in their possession, the political leaders of the West, and especially of America, are deprived of any soft options and are forced to take on the hard option of the “unsheathed sword”
The art of diplomacy, the laudable deliberations of the United Nations for peace making, which could be effective when one deals with a rational foe, are totally ineffective when one confronts an irrational enemy, whose only ‘rational’ communication, in his hearing, is with God. That is why the academics who teach their students the ‘management’ of terrorism by a diplomatic demarche as the only rational way to counter and thwart it, rather than war, which is so costly in human and economic terms and without making certain its defeat, are not only starry-eyed, but also debar themselves from the disciplines of politics and of war strategy. Management presupposes and involves rational processes, which to the terrorists is terra incognita, and therefore with algorithmic precision is bound to fail.

But wherein lies the answer to this conundrum of how to defeat global terror and its state sponsors? History’s edict provides the clear and indefeasible answer to this intricate issue. When a nation fights a swarm of religious fanatics, depriving these fanatics of the ability to launch successful operations against their enemies is the most effective way to defeat them, as the terrorists, being no longer successful in their attacks against the West and in their attacks against the American-led coalition in Iraq, will find the “mouse of doubt” implanted in their hearts (a doubt whose epiphany will reveal to them, that after all they might not be in God’s favor) gnawing, slowly but surely, at their belief that they are the instruments of Allah. This, in itself, will compel them to abandon their cause.

And this is why the successful outcome of the war in Iraq for the U.S. – led coalition and the introduction of democracy to its ravaged people, is of such vital importance. The decisive defeat of the terrorist insurgents will unfold a dawn of a bright future for the people of Iraq, and also commence the beginning of the quick end of global terror.

I rest on my oars:your turn now

 

 

 

Pasok Jeopardizes Greek Government by Refusing to Pay Twenty-five Euros

By Con George-Kotzabasis

The present politically negative stand of Pasok to the Samaras government introduction of the payment of twenty-five euros for medical treatment in public hospitals for those who can afford to pay it, is utterly unwise and politically reprehensible and condemnable as it could destabilize the coalition government of New Democracy and Pasok. The latter must realize that its political fortune and éclat is tied up solely with the success of the Samaras government in pulling the country out of the crisis and by putting it on the trajectory of economic development and hence to the gradual reduction of unemployment, and not on any ephemeral gains, on the polls. In the event which is most unlikely that the electorate will not render to Pasok the justified plaudits for the economic success of the government, history will pass the ultimate judgment and write in golden letters the prudent participation of Pasok in the formation of the Samaras government as its ultimate contribution toward saving Greece from economic and political catastrophe.

This stupendous success of the Coalition Government will erase all other parties, from Syriza to the Golden Dawn, from the electoral map and will be their Nemesis for their sinister and perfidious populist policies that shamelessly deceived a sizeable part of the people by their totally false promises and completely screwball inapplicable policies. Only New Democracy and Pasok will reap the fruits of this tremendous success that had prevented Greece from falling into the abyss of disaster. It is for this reason that Pasok must immediately cease its adverse stand toward the twenty-five euro payment whose raison d’etre is the restructuring of the medical system so it can render better services to its more indigent patients.

Serious economic analysts both within and outside Greece are forecasting that the country by the end of 2014 will be out of the economic crisis as a result of the painful but necessary austerity measures that the Samaras government had taken, by reducing the public sector that impeded economic growth, by privatizing public corporations, and by making the economy more competitive and entrepreneurial. Hence the prudent policies of the Samaras government would draw foreign investment into the country that in turn would lead to the resurgence of the economy and for the first time in six years 2014 would show, according to economic predictions, a fiscal surplus and a small growth of 0.5 in Gross Domestic Product.

Needless to say political stability is a prerequisite for starting a spree of investment. Pasok by foolishly shaking this stability for electoral interests apparently seems to be unaware that by doing so it hinders and discourages indigenous and international entrepreneurs from making any investments that are so vital for the economic recovery of the country.

It is this great achievement of the government in pulling Greece out of the crisis that Pasok in an unprecedented conduct of political frivolity could jeopardize by refusing to pay a twenty-five euro fee for treatment in a public hospital, which could bring about the collapse of the Samaras government.

Obama Diminished Trust of his Allies and Increased Confidence of his Enemies

By Con George-Kotzabasis

Barack Obama has been elected as president of the most powerful nation in the world that since the end of the Second World War has been the bulwark of freedom against its infernal enemies, i.e., the former Soviet Union and its allies. In the twentieth-first century Western civilization is threatened by a new implacable and irreconcilable enemy, fanatical Islam; and the USA is the only nation in the world that can defeat this foe. But president Obama has already failed both tests of “knowing thy enemy,” and as a sagacious strong respectful leader. He has weakened America both before the eyes of its friends and allies and, most dangerously, its enemies.

The nations of Eastern Europe are rapidly losing their trust toward the US that the latter will protect and defend their interests and security, since Obama’s withdrawal of the missile defence shield from Poland and Czechoslovakia and his concessions to the Russians. And the enemies of America, such as Iran and its multiple terrorist proxies are heartened and have increased their confidence that in Obama they have before them a giant eunuch who is incapable and unwilling to use force, even as a last resort, against them. Since Obama has replaced America’s superpower ‘Jupiterian’ bolt diplomacy with olive branches toward them.

The “dangerous scenarios,” of which you are concerned with, are already in their incubatory stage: a nuclear armed Iran that would start a proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region with all the great dangers that would issue from such proliferation, especially in a region that is replete with the votaries of fanatical Islam. Thus to your question what kind of advice one would give to Obama in such an impending crisis, it would be the most heavily ‘armed advice’ that would fall on his shoulders. But Obama has neither the spine nor the balls to carry such heavy advice on his morally rickety frame, and least of all bring it to fruition as a last resort. Thus any strong advice given to a congenitally weak president would be a barren exercise.

Which Record is Worse Market Failure or State Failure?

By Con George-Kotzabasis

Those who so lackadaisically, ignorantly, and one-sidedly, like the liberal ‘questions’, dismiss the efficiency and effectiveness of the “free market” that since its origins and rise has increased by leaps and bounds the standard of living of the masses, according to the Indian economist Amartya Sen, should consider the following: if someone objectively and impartially contrasted historically “market failure” with “state failure” the latter would outweigh the former by tons. A recent egregious example of state failure is President Obama’s spending of a trillion dollars to create jobs. Not to mention the historical example of the failure of the Soviet Union, with its inherently command dirigiste policies, which economists of the stature of Ludwig von Mises had predicted all along.

Debate between American and Australian on the War Against Radical Islam

American says,

For those who think we need to redouble our efforts to “win” the war in Afghanistan, I take it they mean we need to do whatever it takes, militarily and financially, to build a stable Afghan state run headed by a secure and US-friendly government. I have two problems with this idea. First, I tend to doubt that the US has the wherewithal to accomplish such a goal in such a rugged, decentralized and forbidding country – no matter how much our surge surges. The whole idea seems fantastical.

Second, I don’t see how even achieving this fantastical aim would really help with the Al Qaeda issue, since I find it hard to believe that any Afghan government that we can realistically imagine taking shape will have the capacity to prevent Al Qaeda elements from gathering in remote locations and forming bases. As a basis for comparison, can we realistically imagine an Afghan government with even half the capacity of a state like Pakistan? Hardly. And yet Pakistan itself is not in control of large swaths of its country. Pursuing the quixotic state-building plans of the neoconservatives and liberal interventionists is a distraction from the methods that actually work.

My understanding is that we have been engaged in a global campaign against jihadist terrorism for several years now, and the main practical method is to rely on intelligence to stay one step ahead of the folks who actually pose a threat, and then disrupt their efforts, kill their leaders and interdict their operations. We’re probably going to have to keep doing that sort of thing for quite some time, just as the effort against organized crime in the US never really ends. If Al Qaeda cadres build some kind of training base in Afghanistan, we go in and blow it up. If they build another one, we blow that one up too. We use predators and covert methods. The same is true of al Qaeda redoubts in Pakistan or Somalia or Yemen, right? We are going to have to do this no matter what kind of government we get in Kabul.

I can’t believe that at this late date American political leaders and opinion leaders are still deluded by the theory that the chief enabling cause of terrorism is “state sponsorship”, and so that our aim is to manufacture strong states where none exist now. This seems wrong-headed to me. I’ve used this analogy before, but the militant jihadist movement seems something like the anarchist movement of a century ago. Parts of that movement were violent. Was the solution some sort of state-building process in Europe and the United States? No. There were already strong states in Europe and the US. But it is of the nature of terrorist groups to slip between the cracks in the sovereign power of states.

Anarchist terrorism was basically a law and order problem. The idea was just to stay ahead of the perpetrators of terrorist attacks, and outlast the movement as its ideological fervor gradually dissipated and it burned itself out.

We should never have gotten involved in state building in Afghanistan. Now we have a generation of American leaders who are invested in that project, and see their personal honor and the national honor as riding on its very unlikely success. They need to get real.

Australian says,

Ben Katcher’s intellectually malodorous, and disingenuous, argument has reached the other shores of the Pacific. While he claims that “pouring more troops…into Afghanistan means fewer resources to pursue our other national security objectives across the globe,” he does not mention any of them by name other than the economic crisis mentioned by Dennis Blair. Hence his statement that “strategy is about priorities and trade-offs,” while true in general, is a contrived fiction when he applies it to international terrorism since these other priorities remain nameless. The reason why he does not name them is that if he had identified these priorities and contrasted them with the priority of global terror he would embarrass himself for being ludicrous.

Dan Kervick’s paragraph that contains “we use predators and covert methods,” which incidentally is an idea that I suggested myself too eight years ago, is very interesting although he contradicts himself further down on his post when he contrasts present terror with anarchist terror in the past and says for the latter that it “was basically a law and order problem,” which he first ventilated in a riposte to me on TWN three years ago. Surely, Kervick, who has learnt his logic by sitting in the spacious intellectual laps of Hume and Russel, could not cogently argue that “predators and covert methods” fall in the ambience of “law and order.”

American says,

Kotzabasis says:

“Surely, Kervick, who has learnt his logic by sitting in the spacious intellectual laps of Hume and Russel, could not cogently argue that “predators and covert methods” fall within the ambience of “law and order.””

I do. When I say that terrorism is a law and order problem, I don’t mean that the only tools to be used are the methods of the criminal justice system. Those latter tools have proven effective in many cases, including operations interdicted in the UK and Canada. But given the limits of applying these tools across borders and inside rugged countries, sometimes more aggressive means must be employed. What I mean is that terrorism is fundamentally a problem of a limited number of militant “outlaws”, and that the strategy for addressing it should focus on that fact, rather than be distracted by extravagant projects for state improvement and state overhaul.

What I am most skeptical of is the idea that the problem of terrorism is a conventional military problem that calls for the use of conventional military operations – in the form of armies, invasions and occupations – against either states or sub-national “armies”. And I am especially skeptical of the idea that the way to address the problem of terrorism is to launch massive – and generally very unrealistic – state-building operations in the hope that some day the dangerous backward parts of the world will be filled with well-functioning and capable states that will be able to suppress all of the militants operating inside their territories.

There are other means that need to be used as well, including denying the terrorists the ideological foothold that multiplies their influence and capability. That means not doing so many things that provide evidence of the very charges the terrorists make. To counter jihadist charges that the United States is hostile to the interests of Arabs and Muslims across the world the United States should stop behaving as if it is indeed universally hostile to the interests of Arabs and Muslims.

Australian says,

Kervick says:

“When I say that terrorism is a law and order problem, I don’t mean that the only tools to be used are the methods of the criminal justice system.”

Your quote states the obvious. Of course one does not fight terrorism only with police methods but the question is out of all the methods which are the most effective by which one can defeat the jihadists. And while your paragraph in your previous post that mentions “predators” and all the other ‘hard things’ that one has perforce to do against the jihadists is full of strategic clarity, by reverting back to your old argument of three years ago that the present terrorists are similar to the anarchist terrorists of the past and can be interdicted by ‘police’ methods, you unconsciously downgrade the seriousness of your ‘hard things’ position.

Moreover, you are locked in the fallacy of a rational person who premises his actions that his enemies that ‘round’ him up are also rational and if he shows by his actions, in our case America, that he is not against Arabs and Muslims this will bring a definitive change in the attitudes of the jihadists. This is a ‘straightjacket’ delusion that has lost all contact with reality. Islamic fanaticism will not be influenced, soothed, abated, or defeated by moral examples or olive branches but only in the field of battle and that is why a military deployment against it is a prerequisite. In short, it’s just another but more effective method in defeating the jihadists in a shorter span of time.

American says,

C-G Kotzabasis,

I’m talking about the hearts and minds issue. There is a hard core of dyed-in-the-wool militant jihadists with an uncompromising Salafist ideology. They are not going to be swayed by US public diplomacy, or by forseeable changes in US policy. They can only be dealt with forcibly. They must either be captured or killed, and their plans must be disrupted.

But the hard core is surrounded by concentric circles of people who are associated with the hard core by various degrees of fellow-travelling or sympathizing or onlooking. The extent to which the jihadists are able to expand their movement to get material or moral assistance from people in the out rings depends on how well their message resonates.

In my view, the jihadists have been the beneficiaries in recent years of a number of wrong-headed US policies that help their message resonate strongly. If hundreds of innocent people in Gaza have their lives snuffed out in an over-the-top Israeli attack, some as a result of deliberate crimes, with nary a peep from the US Congress, then when your friendly neighborhood jihadist says, “Muslims lives mean nothing to the Americans,” that message is going to get much more play on the street than it would if the US Congress had stepped up and condemned the excessive use of force.

Australian says,

Dan Kervick,

Certainly the “hearts and minds issue” is a core issue. But the “concentric circles of people,” will not be influenced by US Congress pronouncements and condemnations, in this case of Israeli actions, if they perceive, which they will, that this change of American policy arises from the weakness of the latter and from the strength of the “hard core” “militant jihadists” in their war with the US. The concentric circles of support for the militants will only disappear by depriving the latter of the ‘aura’ of being seen as the victors (The ethos of Arab pride trumps all.) against the American hegemon. And that entails the imminent and decisive defeat of the militants in the field of battle, as it happened in Iraq to the Sadrist militias and al Qaeda.

Furthermore, your concentrated reasoning loses its force if your policy contains these two incongruous parts: The first one will destroy by predators and covert operations (Which will be seen in the Muslim world as American excesses) the incubators of “Salafist ideology”, which are the madrassas, while the second, will denounce American and Israeli excesses. Do you seriously believe that such denunciation will have greater influence upon fellow-travellers and sympathisers, than the destruction of the madrassas in which many civilians will be killed, and will win their hearts and minds?

Join the debate