Monday, April 7, 2008

Eliminating fear and extremism

An extremist is defined by the "activities, beliefs, attitudes, feelings, actions and strategies of a person or group far removed from the ordinary. In conflict settings it manifests as a severe form of conflict engagement" (Bartoli and Coleman 2003)

Typically, the same extremist act will be viewed by some as just and moral (such as pro-social "freedom fighting"), and by others as unjust and immoral (antisocial "terrorism") depending on the observer's values, politics, moral scope, and the nature of their relationship with the actor (Bartoli and Coleman 2003)

Extremist acts often employ violence. Low power groups are more likely to employ direct, episodic forms of violence (such as suicide bombings), whereas dominant groups tend to be associated with more structural forms (structural violence meaning centralization of power etc) (Bartoli and Coleman 2003).

The structural varieties of violence are often indirect whereas violence unleashed by low power groups like the LTTE is direct or actual physical violence. The state may then counter physical from low power groups with physical violence of its own.

The core problem that extremism presents in situations of protracted conflict is the severity of the activities but also the closed, fixed, and intolerant nature of extremist attitudes, and their subsequent imperviousness to change (Bartoli and Coleman 2003).

Extremism is driven by sociopolitical, religious, economic and even psychopathic conditions. The most personal motivation, however, is fear. Fear is what drives violence and the violent-doer; it is what maintains the group to unleash violence.

Fear, as a state of mind, is deeply personal and does not require political or socio economic conditions driving it. Whenever the basic characteristics that tie a group together are threatened, the group will fear for its survival.

For example, when Prabhakaran was being pursued by law enforcement agencies in 1976 for assassinating Alfred Duraiappah, fear forged cohesion in the band of outlaws under him. As times went by and the fear grew, the group attempted to get rid of the threat through even more distorted or violent means (Barker 2003)

It is an established truth that the common thread that weaves violent political movements together is fear. ‘It is not the only motivating factor behind political violence, nor necessarily the most obvious, but it is virtually always there. Whenever we ask why people hate, or why they are willing to kill or die for a cause, the answer is invariably fear’ (Barker 2003).

Barker says that extremist groups ‘fear change, modernization and loss of influence…They fear the influence of mass media and its ability to subvert the young with song, dance, fashion, alcohol, drugs, sex and freedom….They fear a future they can’t control, or even comprehend. (Mattil 2003).

Although the LTTE has a promised goal, it is still threatened by the uncertainty of achieving that imagined future and by outside influences that can alter the course of the organization. Countless in-group leaders from Mahattaya to Karuna have succumbed to this fear psychosis. Countless other leaders external to the movement have also been killed. The LTTE even resisted sex and marriage until Prabhakaran met Mathivathini, it resisted women wearing trousers until it ran short of manpower.

Strategies have been developed to reduce extremism and to eliminate fear with mixed results. Peace-building for example, have been used in the macro-social level to address inequalities, human rights, democratization, participatory governance etc. The eastern elections in Sri Lanka are a step in this direction. However, these strategies address the root causes that created the fear or extremism, not the extremism or fear that exists today.

The method that has or is presently achieving success against extremism is the use of force. This has been demonstrated in Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq etc. This method focuses on the use of information, the law, and force to identify, locate, apprehend or destroy extremists or key leaders of extremist groups. Sometimes this entails using legal maneuvers to tie up economic resources, thereby crippling the ability of such groups to organize and function.

by defenceAnalyst

Bartoli, Andrea and Peter T. Coleman. “Dealing with Extremists”. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder.

Barker, Phil. “Fear”. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. 2003

James F. Mattil, What in the Name of God?: Fundamentalism, Fear & Terrorism @, 7th March 2003.


Rover said...


You have outlined, using several sources, that fear is as a root cause for perpetuating violence. And I pretty much agree with this.

But bringing this into perspective in the context of LTTE terrorist group, it is obvious that they are terrorizing (causing immense fear) civilians of a democratic country to achieve a political objective. And this political objective of the terror group, is a sanctuary from fear, namely Eelam. Somehow, they have convinced (by brainwashing ect.) a fairly large group of people to fear the Govt.

So to bring down the terror group, two things could be done: 1. it could mollify the terrorists by showing that there is no need for fear - peace treatise ect. 2. cause unprecedented fear so that they realize that the strategy of terrorism would not succeed.

But both strategies have failed to give us the final objective (of achieving peace)so far because of the psychopathic nature of Prhabhakaran. This is quite true as various groups that were with Prabha have fallen out with him, but the old VP still is the same old stoic he was.

So I believe, it is necessary to get rid of him, and his closest set of supporters to achieve peace.

Rover said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rover said...


And it is obvious that fear, both from within and without, plays a large part in holding the LTTE together.

So another possible method to bring down the terror organization is to reduce the fear/respect that the LTTE hierarchy (especially VP) has over the lower, mid and high level cadres.

Karuna/Pilleyan defected because of this. They ceased to fear their leader. They thought that they could stand on their own two feet. To facilitate this, the gov. encouraged them by taking out the component of the fear factor imposed on them by the govt. That facilitated the defection.

LKDOOD said...

Sri Lanka suicide bombing prompts calls for political solution


admin said...

May I laugh at this article?


1 island
2 countries.
Eelam = inevitable

Unknown said...

Another link to the body of JF. Its not a pretty site and posted only for information.

Unknown said...

The LTTE, Tibet and Sri Lanka. The LTTE has not brought up the Tibet issue as a parralell to their cause. Why?

This is because they buy weapons from North Korea and probabily have weapons made in China comming through that route. Hence supporting Tibet equates to losing this crucial supply line. Secondly China could take revenge by supplying more weapons and training for Sri Lankan armed forces.

Hence Sri Lanka should not fall into the trap and go against a great friend like China. It good that groups like the JHU themselves have kept silent on the issue.

Unknown said...

The boss, Sri Lanka will not be 2 countries. India will never allow it and the North East is not like Kuwait to partition from Iraq because its oil rich. What you can hope for is a federal solution like India where states like tamilnadu have a descent autonomy. This will give the respective people the necessary distincton in a unitary nation.

This situation would have been unecessary if not for the stupid idiots who still run the country. I only propose this solution because some sort of auonomy will allow for one to two generations to bury the past and move on. However most politicians do not show the bravery that the soldiers in the battlefield do.

Sun Tzu's disciple said...

ingaporeFear is used as a weapon by all nations who succeeded in war.The weaker their actual power is( compared to apparent power)the more likely they are to use fear.

e.g. Fear formed a part of the battle strategy of the invincible Mongols under Ghengis Khan--without which their incredible successes on the battlefield may have been more sombre( even though the Mongols were tremendous fighters & strategists in their own right)--due to their low numbers.It is applied to both troops and civilians alike.Even the present Iraq war had its 'Awe & Fear'Bombing at its start.It is just the disproportionately excessive use of fear against civilians(rather than actual battle) that is considered immoral.

Same can be said of any army in history in fact. Even the Stalinist countries of past and present, Nazi Germany, Hamburg carpet bombing by Allies,even Hiroshima.

In Sri Lanka, there was a Civil War where fear was used as a major weapon by both parties--the JVP lost and GoSL won.

Even the present Civil War between LTTE vs GoSL is a war with fear as a major component; Fear has been used by LTTE as a strong component of battle strategy in its war against GoSL (against both troops & civilians); It is not news anymore.The GoSL has also been using fear as a major weapon against LTTE--both on cadres and civilians.. While the previous regimes were more restrained, the present regimes rampant use of terror tactics against its Tamil civilians have truly made it the moral equivalent of the LTTE, if not worse .

Unknown said...

This is a video to celeberate the 12th Anniversary of the malathi Brigade. Its fully composed of women.

IntelAttack said...

Sun Tzu's disciple and other LTTE supporters,

There's no way that GoSL and LTTE can be compared in anyway due to the nature of LTTE, what they do and their ultimate goal.
These differences are crystal clear and people who can't see it in correct way are either bias to one group or psychopathic.

However, the problem in Sri Lanka it is not all about Battle Planning, Fear or their definitions copied n pasted from someone's book.
It should be understandable by one's own mind. Not by following blindly or not because you get rewarded by one party.
Problems are there and they should be solved in a non-violent way. Each time discussions (peace talks) started, LTTE used it for plan how to win the war and control a separate state in SL.
They initiated short term and long term plans for this.

Anyway, in this case there are 2 ways which a government can continue.

1) Let LTTE do anything they want, keep discussing and hope someday this will be over.

2) Ask LTTE to stop back-stage activities (which they won't probably accept) and if not, take necessary decisions for national security

LTTE targeted each and every leader that they thought who can stop LTTE or win Tamil people's heart.

They knew that if some leader emerges who could give a good solution to the conflict; LTTE would win with their war agenda.

However now, they are unable to withstand SLDF movements and they know if things continue in this way for several months, it is extremely hard for them to re-group and ultimately win the war.

So that they try several things to stop this;

1. Kill prominent Tamil leaders that opposes to LTTE - This will create fear among their own people and they won't talk against LTTE.

2. Kill key figures that is leading country's defense forces - This includes the President, Defense Secretariat and Commanders of SLDF

3. Kill civilians and attack economy - This will affect people's economy and they will vote against the ruling party next time. This will probably stop the war against terror as Sri Lanka does not have any Principles for national security like other countries have. What the next party will do is, stop the war and start another peace process which will feed the LTTE for planning again.

The cycle goes forever until a sound solution (military + political) is given.

International community doesn’t care about all these implications. They simply don’t want to care. What they do is just being be sympathized for what happened and ask to stop the war which will stop the violence. They say a political solution is the only way. True! No solution is as good as a political and democratic one. But the solution should be a sound/ democratic/ fair one for all the people of the country. Not only it should be good for people of Sri Lanka, but it should be a lesson for the human kind.
All of us respect and agree to a solution that future generations will accept. Not a solution that will decrease the cost of living or stop suicide bombing for 3-4 years.

LTTE is not genuine! And they keep proving it better day after day.

Sun Tzu's disciple said...

"Sun Tzu's disciple and other LTTE supporters"

Pathetic .

"There's no way that GoSL and LTTE can be compared in anyway due to the nature of LTTE, what they do and their ultimate goal."

Maybe you know something which I dont.I suggest you go through the report below and decide yourself(It is same report, I just copied relevant parts):

.... the LTTE continues to forcibly conscript children and adults, control the media, and suppress freedoms of expression, association and assembly. In contested areas, the LTTE continues to conduct targeted killings of perceived political opponents.


Government security forces are implicated in extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, forcibly returning internally displaced persons (IDPs) to unsafe areas, restricting media freedoms, apparent complicity with the abusive Karuna group, and widespread impunity for serious human rights violations
The Karuna group, which has been aligned with government forces since breaking away from the LTTE in 2004, openly engaged in child recruitment, extortion, abductions for ransom, and political killings
the MAJORITY of recent “disappearances” implicate GOVERNMENT forces or armed groups acting with governmental complicity.

IntelAttack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
IntelAttack said...

LTTE continues to forcibly conscript children and adults, = Yes

GoSL or SLDF forcible conscript of children and adults = No

LTTE control the media, and suppress freedoms of expression, association and assembly. = Yes

GoSL only controls State media, But not private media = Yes. (GoSL sometimes lose control in it as well.)

LTTE continues to conduct targeted killings of perceived political opponents. = Yes.

SLDF continues to conduct targeted killings of perceived terrorists = Yes.

LTTE implicated in extrajudicial killings, = Yes

Government security forces are implicated in extrajudicial killings = No (Only exaggerating and bias allegations without any credible evidence)

LTTE enforced disappearances = Yes

GoSL enforced disappearances = No (Only exaggerating and bias allegations without any credible evidence)

LTTE forcibly returning internally displaced persons (IDPs) to unsafe areas = Yes

GoSL forcibly returning internally displaced persons (IDPs) to unsafe areas = No (Only exaggerating and bias allegations without any credible evidence)

LTTE restricting media freedoms = Yes

GoSL restricting media freedoms = No

LTTE apparent complicity with the abusive Karuna group = Yes (They were (and LTTE still is) abusive and one whole terrorist group when they were together.)

GoSL coming to agreements with a democratic political party of a breakaway faction of LTTE (a.k.a Karuna Group) = Yes

LTTE widespread impunity for serious human rights violations = Yes

GoSL widespread impunity for serious human rights violations = No (Only exaggerating and bias allegations without any credible evidence)

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