TOWARD A STRATEGY FOR DEALING WITH FUNDAMENTALIST
TRYING TO PUT THE GENIE BACK INTO THE BOTTLE
Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 11:19:48 -0400
From: Hans Sinn <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Personal View
Below are some 5570 words by means of which I have put on paper what I
would say to my fellow Canadians, who are not associated with any peace
movement, if they were to ask me where I believe we are right now and
where we should go - or not go.
My ideas are to discussion and I hope they will improve and become more
focused as our collective understanding improves. Only this morning Chaiwat
Satad-Anand from Thailand sent me an email which he spoke of "the tyranny
of violence and its logic". Very true. An apt description of what the peace
and justice movement is about might be people who are trying to liberate
themselves from "the tyranny of violence and its logic." The liberation
begins, as you noted in your email with our intellectual defence against
the logic of violence.
Note from Jan: Hans feels it is important that this article not be edited
down but otherwise, please feel free to share it.
TOWARD A STRATEGY FOR DEALING WITH FUNDAMENTALIST TERRORISM
TRYING TO PUT THE GENIE BACK INTO THE BOTTLE
For now, my suggestions for dealing with violent, religious fundamentalists
are more of a prescription for what not do to than what to do. Our
responses to a surprise attack in a new and unfamiliar situation will tend
to be reflexive, conditioned by past experience. Our first impulses will
therefore be unsuitable to deal effectively with the new and unfamiliar
situation. With any luck we will have sufficient time to correct our
initial mistakes, try a number of new roads, select one and then cautiously
We may safely assume that any aggressor, who has given the purpose of his
aggression and loss of life some thought, has anticipated most of our
reactions to his surprise attack. He will expect us to become rattled and
confused and to make things worse for ourselves rather than better. If all
goes well for our attacker, he will keep prodding us, use our rage, play on
our fears and watch us becoming, step-by-step, victims of our own anxiety.
I believe that religiously motivated terrorists are mad, that they are
convinced and blinded by their conviction, but they are not stupid. On the
contrary, I expect these terrorists to be of above average intelligence. I
also assume, that however mad a religious terrorist might be, we still have
a common humanity and what drives him also drives me, or us, although in a
different measure, combination and form.
The chances that we will react inappropriately to an attack are especially
great when we have been blindsided, because we have paid no attention. The
vulnerable civilians' first reactions to a sudden, violent, profoundly
disturbing attack is to look to their elected leaders for guidance and
safety. It was rather touching to hear the White House spokesperson in the
hours following the September 11 attack repeatedly assure the American
people "Your leader is safe. Mr. Bush is safe". I suppose it was good to
know that President Bush and other ranking US government officials were
safe and not among the thousands of unarmed civilians who horribly died in
the attack. However, a political leader's survival seems no good reason to
believe that he is a better public protector after the attack than he was
before the attack. Nor do we have reason to believe that the same people
who were caught napping on September 11 are awake today, even as they are
moving about, issuing orders, making public pronouncements, developing new
laws and sending their armies marching.
I am surprised and a bit disappointed by the reactions of my New Canadian
fellow citizens. Having grown up in Hitler's Germany, I have found
Canadians in comparison to be eminently sane and levelheaded. So, when
Canadian fighter planes circle the skies over Toronto, ready to shoot down
any civilian air-plane, high-jacked by fundamentalist terrorists, I like to
believe that this is a momentary aberration. Soon Canadians will come to
their senses and maybe even laugh about their first hysterical reactions to
this new danger.
What are fundamentalists and fundamentalisms? Karen Armstrong, in her
recent work "The Battle for God"( Alfred Knopf, New York, 2000.) defines it
as follows "Fundamentalisms are embattled forms of spirituality, which have
emerged as a response to a perceived crisis. They are engaged in a conflict
with enemies whose secularist policies and beliefs seem inimical to
religion itself. Fundamentalists do not regard this battle as a
conventional political struggle, but experience it as a cosmic war between
the forces of good and evil."
Violent, religious fundamentalists do not pursue specific, political
objectives; they are not limited in their targets or in the extent of their
violence and destruction. The more destructive their actions the better.
Unlike the secular, political terrorist the religiously motivated terrorist
will not stop at a certain juncture or give up after he has been physically
laid low. The violent, religious fundamentalists cannot be physically
defeated because he is possessed by an idea and his objectives are not of
The actions of the religious fundamentalists are not politically
legitimised; they have no bases in human law or conventional morality. It
is useless to rail at the religious terrorist with references to human law,
morality or reason. The fundamentalist is not under the control of a
political authority; he believes to be informed and commanded by God, by
the word of God and/or by God's representatives on earth. This means, in
practice, and in the Israeli Palestinian context, that it is useless to
talk beyond a certain point with Yassir Arafat and Ariel Sharon. Arafat and
Sharon are secular authorities and do not control the religiously motivated
terrorist. In the final analysis, Arafat and Sharon may in fact seek the
advice and guidance of a religious authority, rather than the other way
It is encouraging that both Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair are pressing Ariel
Sharon to move ahead and permit the creation of a Palestinian state.
However, it remains to be seen how Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair will negotiate
and settle the non-negotiable issues, such as Jerusalem and the Temple
Mount. The inherent problems and the way they relate to the Christian,
Jewish and Moslem belief systems and secular political practice is
excellently portrayed by Gershom Gorenberg "The End of Days -
Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount" (The Free Press, N.Y.
Our most promising point of departure for understanding the violent
religious fundamentalist is to appreciate and accept the obvious: life is
dangerous and ends in death. From a comfortable, secular, first world
perspective we take it for granted that every human being will do his or
her best to delay the moment of death as long as possible. In fact, we are
willing to go to some extra ordinary, not to say unreasonable, lengths to
postpone death. We have a humanist life-affirming premise, which makes it
hard for us to accept that there are a significant number of people who are
of a completely different mind.
There are a growing number of people who, instead of wishing to delay the
end as long as possible, are actively trying to bring it about. Their
reasons may make little sense to a society rooted in secular humanism.
However, for people of strong religious belief, the reasoning of religious
terrorists is understandable, even though they are not acceptable.
Theologians know that religious fundamentalist terrorists are trying to
"hasten the end", that is they wish to usher in what Christians know as the
Promised Land or the Kingdom of God. Violent fundamentalists have become
impatient with waiting for The World to Come instead they are trying to
force the issue by way of murder, suicide and sacrifice.
It is no secret in the religious community that the desire "to hasten the
end" - if need be by violence - is common to all religious fundamentalists,
Moslem, Jewish, Christian as well as religious sects in Japan. I am not
sure why our theologians today have not spoken up on the issue.
It is well known that fundamentalists of all faiths have been vying for
centuries with each other to bring about the end of "this world". They have
battled each other ferociously in bloody crusades about who will be there,
in the end, with God, in eternity. Maybe the subject is too scary or
embarrassing for the established Church. George Bush, on the other hand,
stepped right into it, when he called for a "crusade" against terrorists.
Suffice it to say, from the fundamentalist perspective we are, once again,
in an end run situation. There have been repeated convulsive attempts,
throughout human history, to force the issue of the promised, but seemingly
never arriving, World to Come. But then, we never had the means to complete
the job of bringing "this world" to an end. Today we have. The more violent
and widespread the struggle the more it serves the objective of the armed
religious fundamentalist "to hasten the end". The more hysterical, fearful,
boisterous and pretentious our response to the, as yet relatively little
violence levelled at us, the more we are pandering to the apocalyptic
expectations of our armed, religious opponents.
The problem of containing and minimizing the violent struggle is that
murder, suicide and sacrifice, which are basic to religious terrorism, are
also present in conventional warfare. We don't notice these elements in the
armed men whom we send out to hunt down the terrorists because we have
legalized our soldier's conduct. In practice, though, the lines between
between religiously and politically legitimised terror and counter terror
tend to blur and eventually disappear. In the heat of battle, everything
goes, there are no limits.
The object of terror is to have us submit, to become puppets in some one
else's scenario, to suppress language, to reduce thought and to put an end
to self-willed and self -directed action. From the terrorist's point of
view, ideally, the objects of his actions will become so demoralized and
frightened that to escape their fear they will closet themselves and/or
Our act of surrender to the wishes of the terrorist may begin when we put
on a credible charade of self-willed and self-directed action, both for
ourselves and for our audience. We may try to hide our fear from the
outside by fleeing into an exaggerate nationalism on the inside, by singing
and frantic flag waving. We may start to seek reassurance and leadership
from people whom yesterday we would not have trusted to lead us safely
across the road.
We know we are starting to act with diminished responsibility when our
expectations of accountability from "the authorities" begin to fade, when
we merely wish to be led, to be taken by the hand and be told we are safe
or will be safe. We become followers and runners with the crowd, actors in
a scenario we do not understand. We are setting ourselves up to become
involved in actions, which we would not approve of under normal
circumstances and sober mind.
Terror is primarily a mental game, a question of social engineering that
aims at complete dominance and control of its objects. The trick in the
mass extermination of the European Jews was to have all the work done by
the Jews themselves. Observes Jean Francois Steiner about the process,
which led the Jews into the extermination camps. "Its principle had been
the moral disarmament of the victim by skilful doses of panic and
uncertainty. This disarmament forced the victim to make a certain number of
minor concessions which led to others, which in turn brought him to a third
stage.." (p.44 Treblika, Simon and Schuster, 1967)
Kurt Franz, the commander of Treblinka defined the goal: "We must reach the
point where we no longer have to do anything, not even press a button when
we get up in the morning. We create a perfect system, then we watch it
work." Treblinka p.73
"Nazism" writes Anna Pawelczynska in "Values and Violence in Auschwitz
"made use of an extensive social technology for the manipulation of human
beings, correctly assuming (for the most part) that a specific set of
conditions and stimuli ought to bring about the projected social responses.
Social engineering enabled the machinery of death to be set in motion on a
mass scale." (p124)
The terrorists today can depend on the civilian population to demand of
their governments to - DO SOMETHING - anything, even though there maybe
little to be done, at least not physically other than look after the
casualties and affected families. The authorities, by and large, are only
too willing to oblige. Officials, whose authority has come into question in
the 60s, can spring into action and are given a chance to show their mettle
by taking command in the "War Against Terrorism."
In Canada we now have strict border controls on both sides of the
US/Canadian divide. Armed men and women in bullet prove vests are
painstakingly searching, restricting and slowing down civilian and
commercial traffic. Corkscrews and nail clippers are confiscated at our
airports. Luggage and people are checked, coming and going on both domestic
and international flights. To utter the word bomb in an airport, albeit in
jest is a criminal offence.
Would any half-brain terrorist, after September 11, use the main entrances
and exits of any western country, instead of availing himself of the
international criminal network, which has no trouble moving tons of drugs
and smuggle people across our borders?
The Moslem fundamentalist-terrorist, after having created an appropriate
climate of fear and anxiety within North America, may not even have to
re-enter North America to continue the job of destabilizing both Canada and
the US. There are a sufficient number of mentally unstable groups and
individuals within North America to continue stirring up popular fear and
uncertainty. Violent, religious, fundamentalism and far right extremism are
not peculiar to the Muslim world. We had the American Christian Patriot
movement of the Oklahoma bombing. Japan had the Aum Shinrikyo sect, who
perpetrated the March 1995 nerve gas attack on a Tokyo subway in the hopes
of hastening a new millennium. There is no shortage of mentally unbalanced
people in any population, who would take a perverse pleasure seeing this
world fall apart.
Today, as Americans stock pile gas masks and revolvers, no one can fail to
observe how easy it would be to sow further panic and uncertainty among an
easily frightened, unthinking people. There is nothing to say that the
anthrax scare is not American home made, or that future similar incidents
are not American made copies. A person does not have to be trained in
social psychology to see how easy it is to keep the ball rolling among the
North American population while US and NATO pound the Afghan country side
into ever smaller pieces.
I suppose it is possible that the crisis will blow over because it has been
successfully managed. The War on Terrorism will succeed, the terrorist
networks will be destroyed and we will return to the state of the
pre-September 11 relative safety under the US NATO umbrella. But that
presumes that armed religious fundamentalism will disappear, or religious
fundamentalism as such will disappear.
Ironically, the people most likely to see events in terms similar to those
of today's religious terrorists seem to be the Americans. The Americans,
who are trying to pound the terrorist into the dust, seem also to be the
people who are closest in their own fears and expectations to that of the
violent, religious fundamentalists. According to Paul Boyer in "When Time
Shall Be No More - Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture" (Harvard
University Press, 1992) 50 % of University educated Americans believe in
the second coming of Christ, that percentage rises to 60%, among the
general US population. Millions of Americans are convinced that there will
be a final, world destroying battle after which Christ will come and lift
them out of the rubble into heaven. This includes Harry Truman who, when he
was informed in June of 1945 of the first successful A-Bomb test in New
Mexico, wondered in the privacy of his diary: "It may be the fire of
destruction prophesied in the Euphrates Valley Era, after Noah and his
fabulous Ark" (When Time Shall Be No More p.116). His apocalyptic musings
did not stop him from authorizing the dropping of the first atomic bombs on
Hiroshima and Nagasaki two months later.
During the past decade the works of "The Father of the Modern Day Bible
Prophecy Movement" Hal Lindsay have sold 35 million copies. Titles such as
"The Late Great Planet Earth" and "The Final Battle" enjoy a vast American
readership. This final battle though is supposed to take place in the
Middle East; and should the worst happen American believers are assured a
place with Christ in heaven. Typical for this simplistic, American belief
are the citizens of Amarillo Texas, the final assembly and distribution
point of US atomic weapons, see A.G. Mojtabai " Blessed Assurance - At
Home With The Bomb In Amarillo Texas".
How can one respond to such mind-boggling simplicity? According to a McLean
magazine survey the priority of 80% of Canadians is to make life better or
at least as good for their children as for themselves. The survey results
suggest to me that Canadians would not in fear for their own lives do
anything, which might make life worse for their children. We will think
very carefully before we commit ourselves to a course of action such as war
in the nuclear age.
So what are we afraid of? At this stage in the War on Terrorism the
chances are infinitely greater that we will get run over by a car or die of
cancer than become individual victims of a terrorist attack. Why the great
excitement? What is so new and unusual? Regardless of what we do, there
will always be loss of life in the ordinary course of our daily lives.
There is no absolute security, no matter how careful we are. Tragedy
strikes us in many forms.
To sell us more "security" is a cheap exploitation of fears, and so is to
sell and tell people exaggerated and fearful stories. True, so far only
about 6% of Canadians elect their federal MPs on the basis of their foreign
policy. Canadians' interests are overwhelmingly local and provincial. This
is not a particularly good base from which to appreciate and respond
intelligently to the vital concerns of people in other parts of the world.
>From this provincial perspective there is a strong inclination to help the
Americans to build a wall around North America, however useless and counter
productive such a wall might be as a way to keep the world outside from
knocking on our doors or worse, blow down our house.
I am treating the question of how to cope with religiously motivated
terrorism from a Canadian perspective, knowing full well that it is a
global problem that cuts across all borders, classes, races, genders and
ethnicity. However, to the extent that I am living in a Canada by Canadian
law and am part of Canadian culture, I recommend that we do not follow the
Americans much further down the road in their War on Terrorism,
irrespective of how close and friendly we are with the Americans.
I don't know who the Canadians are who respond hysterically to a minor
physical threat and how they have come to be in such a precarious mental
I am getting the feeling of being in a large crowd in which a significant
number of people are ready to run for the exit. A number of Canadians are
already running, judging by their behaviour. Unfortunately, there are no
exits. Consequently, the people who are running around within Canada are
getting other Canadians excited, some of whom are already on edge. (I have
always wondered, and am still wondering, why the highest form of praise
Canadians can bestow on a person, an object or event is to say that it is
exciting). Today the people who are running for the exits are beginning to
affect even those who do not easily lose their cool. It is hard to believe
that people will panic and let themselves go without sufficient reason. We
expect there to be a reason, but we do not see one, at least no reason to
provoke such an exaggerated response.
If we have been caught off guard we tend to get embarrassed and flustered.
We will try to hide our confusion and try to preserve our public image,
especially if it is fragile. If it is critical that we maintain a good
public image and if there was no real reason to panic then we are tempted
to find one or manufacture one. We begin to lie to ourselves as a form of
self- defence and gradually get into a situation where we start responding
to our own shadows and have people who believe in us do likewise. We are
now beginning to manufacture a social scenario of growing complexity. In
our scenario the people and events are real, but our point of departure,
our premise, is pure fantasy.
Osama bin Laden appears to be such an idea, a shadow, which has come to
life. We know that Osama bin Laden is a product of the American foreign
policy, which is now coming to haunt them (and us?). Osama bin Laden and
his network are real enough. The problem is how to make bin Laden go away.
It appears bin Laden is not going to go away. The Americans and, we, their
NATO allies, are making sure that what started as an idea of how to defeat
the Communists in Afghanistan has assumed a life of its own. By this time
and by virtue of our massive military response to the September 11 violent
and bloody provocation, the accused, Osama bin Laden, has assumed stature
and his stature is growing, and is gradually taking on mythical proportions
- at least in the eyes of a growing number of people in the Moslem world.
Osama bin Laden has become a household word. We now could kill Osama bin
Laden and his shadow and stature would remain with us.
I do not expect Canada to pull out of the military engagement in
Afghanistan. Our government has committed itself to the US led War on
Terrorism with the approval of more than 70% of Canadians. I accept the
Canadian military commitment as part of the conditioned reflex to a
physical threat, or more precisely to an idea, which has taken the form of
a physical threat. I also accept this War on Terrorism as an occasion for
the inevitable complaint about how ill prepared Canadians are for serious,
armed combat; it seems part of our worry that Canadians cannot sit at the
table and play with the Big Boys unless we can make a strong military
I rather not discuss the Canadian army. Instead, I am suggesting, that we
shift our focus to the political front and try to give the battle over the
rubble of Afghanistan a specific Canadian twist. I suggest that we pay
close and special attention to the women of Afghanistan. I think we will
serve Canada's and the War on Terrorism's purposes best trying to make sure
that the Afghani women have a significant role in any post-Taliban
I understand the current war largely as a man made problem - man as in
male. Armed force and violence is a typical, well-established and well
developed way by which we men are taught to handle problems, to display our
manhood and influence. I understand religious, fundamentalist terrorists as
men who are overwhelmed and crushed by their own powerlessness. For the
violent man this powerlessness, which in many respects is common to us all
in life, has been exaggerated by circumstances and disappointments. These
men are in desperate need of an arena where they can be certain and in
control. Given the opportunity in a religious society such men will revert
to a strict ritualistic code of behaviour. Their behaviour is preferably
governed by the word of God (military command will do) and then imposed
ruthlessly and violently on the people closest at hand: the women of their
own community and of their own family and then it spreads from there.
These men's fear of the "weaker" sex, their distain of women and their need
to control women, is unmistakable and explicit. This means, the spiritual
end of the fundamentalist struggle is loaded with repressed sexuality. We
now have murder, suicide, sacrifice, death and sex, rolled into one, each a
force in its own right.
As to the foreseeable future of Afghanistan, irrespective of the aberrant
behaviour of the Talibans, their violence and their treatment of women, in
the end they are men fighting other men for the spoils of war - except for
those who are serious about hastening the end of this world. If there is a
future Afghan peace settlement and it follows the established pattern, then
it will be men rewarding each other for their pains on the battlefield. It
is understood and accepted that "warriors" need to be rewarded and appeased
for their efforts, less they start to kill again. Men, government officials
and clan leaders, will parcel out among themselves territory, women,
children, animals and other resources. Maybe women will enter in an
advisory role or as secretaries somewhere, but Afghani women will most
likely be parcelled out to the "warriors" together with the other spoils of
Yet depressingly the parcelling out the spoils of war among men seems one
of the best-case scenarios, for it presumes that the War on Terrorism, now
in progress, will not get out of hand, there will be a peace settlement and
there will be something left to be divided.
Whatever peace settlement there is going to be seems still a way off. We
are still in the first stages of the War on Terrorism. The defeat of the
Talibans may only be the first phase. We have yet to arrive at shared
understanding of whom we are fighting, what we are fighting about and what
would be an acceptable conclusion. In the meantime, as Gwynne Dyer remarked
"It is like trying to nail jelly to the wall"
Compounding the difficulties of a peace settlement is that we are dealing
with at least two types of men: the Holy Warriors who are on a suicide
mission to Kingdom Come; and men who are using violence and terror to
achieve (or defend) specific political ends which they expect will serve
them in "this world". Both types of men tend to form alliances and carry
on their fight alongside each other. Only somewhere along the road, if the
battle lasts long enough, may it become apparent that their objectives are
at odds and incompatible.
To the political terrorist "war is the continuation of politics by other
means" as defined by Carl von Clausewitz back in 1832. To the Holy Warrior
war and terror are a means to realize the Kingdom of God - or something
In my own experience, and as I see it, when the Americans allied themselves
with Osama bin Laden and his fellow Holy Warriors, they made the same
mistake, which the German establishment made after WWI, when it allied
itself with Adolf Hitler. After WW I the German bankers, industrialists,
aristocrats, generals, university and church leaders backed Hitler, the Mad
Messiah from Austria, because they saw him as an instrument to defeat the
Communists and Socialists who threatened to gain political power in
Germany. The alliance between Hitler and the German Establishment worked -
at first. Hitler and the Nazis did indeed drive the German Communists and
Socialist from the political scene. But once Hitler had consolidated his
power base the German establishment got more than it had bargained for.
After sending the leadership of the German Communists and Social Democrats
into concentration camps, Hitler and his fellow believers, went on to
exterminate the European Jews and began to build on their corpses, and that
of millions other Europeans, their mythical 1000 Year Empire - the German
equivalent of the Kingdom of God.
In spite of the evidence, which has accumulated throughout human history,
we still have not factored into our political dealings with each other our
capacity for mental derangement, both individually and collectively. If we
had factored pathology into our politics then we would not for political
purposes use people who believe that making war, killing people, terrifying
people and destabilizing countries is holy. Unfortunately, we continue to
do so. We have let, as it were, the Genie out of the bottle and the Genie,
after having done our bidding, is refusing to go back in. He wants his
reward, which we are unwilling to give him.
I don't pretend to know the answer. I am sure, though, that before we
continue much further along our present road, we have to come to a social
consensus about what and with whom we are dealing. Less we are going to be
at odds with each other. I do not believe in trying to overcome one
addiction with another (as the Americans have been doing for some time in
Colombia) Combating drugs with armed force is a losing proposition unless
you are into fighting as an activity in itself and get your rewards from
John Keegan's central argument in his 1993 work "A History of Warfare" is
that Clausewitz got it wrong. To accept that war in the continuation of
politics by other means is taking a too limited view of war making. John
Kegan shows convincingly that there are a significant number of men, indeed
whole societies, to whom war is a way of life, a culture without any other
purpose, political or otherwise.
I have too much of a vested interest in the advancement of non-violence to
push the issue of non-violence. However, irrespective of the moral aspect I
find the prevailing belief in armed force as the supreme problem solving
mechanism pathetic. It seems indicative of a lack of imagination and
Osama bin Laden may depart this world, one way or another, maybe even his
network will come apart, but there will be others. As long as the US and
NATO help to frustrate the hopes and expectations of parts of humanity for
a better life in this or in another world, they are liable to engender
large scale frustration, a suicidal rage and a more fanatic belief in the
biblical promises of another better world. Once the bottled up rage has
surfaced, as it has now, it will be hard to put it back in to the bottle
and forget that it exists, right next to our arsenals of ABC weapons.
There are Americans in responsible positions who know and understand what
they are dealing with and who appreciate the difference between the
politically and religiously motivated terrorist (I don't know if they have
considered violence as a way of life as an issue). Said California Congress
woman Jane Harmen during the recent CBC TV program "Trail of a Terrorist"
about the religiously motivated terrorist "They don't anymore want to sit
at the table (like the anti-globalisation activists) they want to blow up
the table". Jane Harmen thus confirmed what students of various forms of
terrorism such as Bruce Hoffman "Old Madness New Methods" have been saying
for many years.
The fact that the religious terrorists "want to blow up the table" might
send a note of caution to the anti-globalisation movement. The members of
today's civil society movement are well qualified to understand the issues,
which tend to driven the religious terrorists over the edge. But the
movement should know the difference between their own social/political
objectives and the otherworldly objectives of the religiously motivated
suicide bombers. Failing to see the difference would have the modern labour
and human rights movement repeat the mistake the workers and farmers made
during the Middle Ages.
At that time the peasant and crafts people were vigorously campaigning for
better living and working conditions. But in the process the members of the
secular social justice movement made the mistake of unwittingly aligning
themselves with the millenarians, who were also on the move, but in
expectation of the imminent arrival of the Kingdom of God. The peasants and
artisans wanted to improve their living and working conditions in this
world, while the millenarians were on their way out of this world, into to
heaven. The results of this alliance, wherever it occurred, were
disastrous. (see Norman Cohn "The Pursuit of the Millennium - Revolutionary
Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middles Ages", Oxford
University Press, New York, 1970, first edition 1957)
So what can Canadians safely do at this stage? Safely meaning, undertake or
support actions and policies, which although they may not be of immediate
and great effect, are at least not counter-productive. I dare hope that the
suggested activities and policies may prove useful in future, assuming that
other people and countries join Canadians in their efforts:
· Do everything possible to assure that Afghan women have a significant
role in any future Afghan government.
· Proceed with the completion of the International Criminal Court, in the
development of which Canada is playing already a leading role.
· Treat the September 11 suicide attack as a crime against humanity, which
is to be tried in an International Criminal Court - not by a Moslem or
· Start transforming the so-called War on Terrorism into an international
law-enforcement action; that is, a police action.
· Persuade the clergy of all faiths to declare religiously based terrorism
a sacrilege, and if necessary, excommunicate the terrorists.
· If necessary have the religious terrorists tried in a religious court.
During the Middle Ages a person who was found guilty of heresy by a
religious court was handed over to the secular authorities to be burnt at
the stake. I am not advocating the burning of religiously motivated
terrorist at the stake (although some people may feel like it). However, I
see the medieval relationship between religious and secular authorities as
a potential model for cooperation between today's secular and religious
October 18. 2001
Civilian Peace Service