Beyond Manchester: How to Stop Violent Extremism by State and Non-State Actors

Whenever another suicide-bombing takes a heavy toll of innocent lives, I revisit my list of ways to prevent another one. So here’s today’s list and the reasons for the items on the list.

First, I tend to agree with the views expressed about the Manchester bombing by Tariq Ali,  a British-Pakistani writer, journalist, historian, filmmaker, and political activist on a recent Amy Goodman show (May 24, 2017). Here’s an excerpt from the transcript:

“This atrocity happens, we all denounce it, everyone says 95, 96 percent of the Muslim community is opposed to all this—which is all true. Then people like myself and a few others from the antiwar movement say this is not unrelated to the war on terror that has been going on now since 2001. Every Arab country that’s occupied, wrecked, has a consequence in Europe.

So it’s—we’re part of a sort of really vicious, now, cycle, where the wars go on, and terror attacks, carried out usually by tiny jihadi groups or by individuals, as appears to be in this case, goes on.”

Keeping in mind Ali’s comments and putting on my hat as a political scientist, I think we have to look at the over-arching circumstances and conditions that are leading state actors and non-state actors to engage in violent extremism against each other and kill innocent civilians who are directly targeted or get trapped in their cross-fire.

These circumstances and conditions, without drilling down into the colonialist history of the region and other regions that have been colonized, boil down to extreme inequality, impoverishment, and denial of the right to exercise fundamental civil, political and human rights on the part of literally hundreds of millions of people.

The non-state perpetrators of violent extremism in the Middle East, North Africa (MENA) and now Europe, regardless of what we think of their values and choices, have either been the direct victims of these circumstances and conditions, or are related to these victims, directly and indirectly. Needless to say, the barbaric acts carried out by extremist groups of these victims are completely unacceptable, as are the same barbaric acts carried out by nation-states in the MENA region.

While we can’t undo historical circumstances and conditions, we can change their consequences. What I think we can do, and need to do, is to make sure that these victims along with everyone on the planet have the basic essentials indispensable to meaningful lives — so that feelings of anger, hatred and revenge do not well up inside them and drive them into the kind of uncontrollable rage and acts of violence that are occurring with increasing frequency in the Manchester arenas of the world — throughout Europe, the U.S. and the rest of the planet.

So here’s my list of what everyone — man, woman and child — should be guaranteed:

  • A universal basic income throughout their lives, preferably delivered directly and electronically so that it cannot be siphoned off by intermediaries.
  • Universal single payer health care paid by the government — without premiums, deductibles, co-pays, limitations based on pre-existing illnesses, etc.
  • Living wage jobs.
  • Affordable housing.
  • Free public K-12 education and at least two years of college education.

All of the above is easily  affordable because the resources are already on hand. What must happen is the following:

  • Governments shift their wasted expenditures on their military establishments and redirect them to meet the needs of the populations they are supposed to be serving.
  • Governments stop allowing and subsidizing private insurance companies and pharmaceuticals to siphon off people’s hard-earned money and put it in their own pockets.
  • Governments stop allowing real estate concerns to restrict the availability of affordable housing so they can jack up the cost of housing to the point that people have to pay one half to two thirds of their income on housing.
  • Governments such as the U.S. government do not allow what should be “public” education to be restricted or privatized, which is what happens when for-profit institutions in the U.S. siphon off and pocket public funds, making quality education virtually unaffordable — especially at the post-K-12 level.

Obviously, in order to compel governments to implement the shifts outlined above, the Global Social Network for Voters needs to be implemented so that people can actually control their governments.

When this shift to popular control of government, rather than special interest control, is combined with the other shifts enumerated above, anything is possible. While it may seem to you that what I am recommending may be far-fetched,  the shifts I am proposing actually aren’t, since the resources are there. If certain governments cannot afford these expenditures or shifts in the near term, the United Nations should step in and lend them the money, which the UN can obtain from loans extended the UN by their more prosperous and altruistic members.

Back to whether my proposals are far-fetched, let’s consider the worst case scenario of all possible alternatives — the continuing escalation of  the spread of political violence around the world. While you may not immediately, or ever, embrace my list . . . could you let me know what is on your list of alternatives?

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