Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Struggling against Violent Extremism: A word or two on Google’s sponsored conference in Ireland?

Keywords or terms: Violent extremism; Information Dissemination; Cradle of Violence; Europe; North America; Middle East; Africa; Russia; Civil and Political Rights; Al'Quran; Jihad-ism; Social-political-religious issues; Terrorism; Civility; Intense Passion; and Dastardly Acts

The idea of a global conference on violent extremism is, on one level, an admission by Google’s idea that violent extremism is probably an issue that must be considered by Google’s audience and or customers. Yet, it is also an aberration of Google’s position as a global leader in information sharing or dissemination. How about the responsibility of sharing thoughts that are civil rather than radical; or, those that provide permanent solutions to many past dastardly acts of many extremist groups across the globe?

Google’s idea’s initiative to sponsor a conference, where past and present terrorist groups share banter and discuss their past and probably current conquests, of innocent governments and peoples, may make sense to Google’s idea; however, many governments of nations of the world, would rather not have to deal with a publicity for violent extremists or their associates. While Google might have found a cradle for a conference like this, in article 19 of the universal declaration of human rights and probably the covenant on civil and political rights, there are some governments, who are at the throes of long battles against extremist groups within and without their borders, who will absolutely condemn this new venture from Google’s ideas. Opening up a venue for extremist groups to identify or crusade about their conquests, is probably unwise, especially in a world where suicide bombing is like having breakfast for some violent extremists in some countries of the world.

Many governments of the world hardly trust a conference of this nature yielding positive information that may lead to the eradication of extremism. How do you convince radical Muslims not to attack countries and governments who do not share their interpretation of AL'Quran on Jihadism? How do you convince Northern Protestant Ireland that Northern Catholic Ireland is forever at peace with it? How do you discuss violent extremism without discussing social, cultural and religious content of anti-Semitism that gripped Europe in the Middle Ages, without addressing the long standing bad blood of the 1942 expulsion of Jews from Spain?

How do you address the ugly head of Nazism with the evident element of “purity of blood” precedent to the second world war? How do you discuss how the Palestinian Authority has failed to fulfill security obligations to Israel; or, how extreme groups within Israel have failed to see the essence of swapping land for peace with the Palestinians? How do you explain away to extremist groups, US government constant reminder that the nation is not at war with Islam as a religion? How do you discuss the resurgence of Neo-Nazis groups in Sweden and their tentacles of extremist networks in North America, Europe and Russia? How do you convince the cult of suicide bombers to desist in Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan? How do you share new information on combating hatred, segregation and war, staples of violent extremists across the globe? These are challenging questions that a conference as that convened by Google’s idea, may attempt to scratch the surface of, but can hardly resolve, even if every attendees at the conference actually understand the essence of Google’s initiative on this current front.

A conference on violent extremism may be construed as a window to the minds of terrorists or terrorist groups across the globe. However, there are other problems that this conference can lead to, including opening up canker-worms of what some governments have undertaken, in fighting terrorism within their borders and probably worldwide. The intense passion with which many governments of some nations of the world have fought violent extremism, shows how difficult it is to address violent extremism and terrorism; and, what some governments have been forced to do in order to preserve the liberties of their citizens. To a few of these nations, which may have been criticized for engaging in underhanded tactics to get terrorist groups off their back, the thought of a conference as this, would be considered as misguided. The maître of some of these nations is: you cannot negotiate with terrorists; or, it is political suicide to negotiate with any extreme group that engages in violence to advance her position. Further, if your choice as the leader of a nation is to be firm and resolute, you must not be found as accommodating negotiations or condoning deliberations or conferences with extreme groups or adversaries. While some progressive groups may want to respect Google's initiative to convene a conference where members of extreme or past extreme groups are given audience, or rob minds with their so-called enemies as a precept to bringing about peace across the globe, some governments of the world in the thick of battle against extreme groups for the survival of their nation, would probably pass on this conference.

Google’s conference on struggling against violent extremism could achieve multiple objectives: reduce violence in some parts of the world for some time, engage or pacify some extreme groups on many governments' watch lists; re-position individual nation’s or extreme groups’ objective relative to their avowed enemies; and, perhaps identify some grievances that have led some groups to take up extreme violence to achieve their goals and much more. What it will never achieve is lasting peace with groups that are bent on self-destruction and or, philosophy of my way or the highway. The conference may be able to open some initial discussions on some pressing issues regarding violent extremism with social-religious-political ramifications; however, the concept of conflict resolution will continue to outlive whatever accomplishment Google Idea is attempting to accomplish here. The effort from Google’s idea to expand the horizon of people, their customers and search engine service users through this conference, is hardly reputable and may actually intensify the positions of other extreme groups or person within the hate networks across the globe.

The event of September 11, 2001 hopefully has taught all of us, that extreme violent groups or extremists are irrational, inhumane and lack the capacity to appreciate civility in the discussions of issues in which they probably feel aggrieved. Even with the demise of Osama bin Laden, members of the extreme Al ’Qaida group have chosen a new leader to carry on with their violent baptism. How do you open up a conference or deliberations over what drives such extreme groups? Will a conference on struggling against violent extremism halt extremism and or terrorism? The answer to the last question is probably, No! If in doubt, talk to US State Department officials to elicit candid comments, not diplomatic comments, on what it will take to restart talks on peace and further the two states solution to the Israeli-Palestinian hostilities; or, what headaches they have been having with negotiations with Al'Qaida in Afghanistan?

The good news is that this conference is convened or led by an information dissemination leader and probably the most conspicuous search engine globally. To expand its ideas and probably influence on search engine algorithm, Google may have venture into an arena that is politically hot or somewhat sensitive. While Google may be seeking to identify with an issue that has a global relevance, it may have created a back lash for organizing a conference that is loaded with a lot of skepticism. It is understood in some quarters that a conference of this nature, will leave many participants with more questions than answers. If extreme groups take up the responsibility of putting down their arms and seeking peace, genuine peace, maybe this type of conference could have helped everyone along.

A few people in and out of government understand what Google idea is attempting to accomplish: Peace worldwide; or something that resembles it. However, the world has been in the desert of hatred and war mongering that some parts of the world, have not known peace for decades. Talk to children of hostilities in many parts of the world, where wars had persisted for any length of time, Somalia, Bosnia, Lebanon, Niger, North and South Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran and all you probably hear is: we’ll pay billions to be at peace and war mongering is probably unworthy! If you plod them a little further, asking why they didn't contemplate peace earlier? Their likely response will be: No one was listening to us! Will Google’s conference answer this question to the satisfaction of warring parties? Your guess is as good as mine.

The bad news about this conference is that Google has chosen to convey the conference in summer and far away in Ireland, when many people are thinking more about fun rather that the consequences of war. Anyone who have talked in privacy with extremist group members would probably find some form of credibility and some nonsensical in their comments. To the millions of people who have suffered from the brutality of extreme groups, any organization offering opportunities for such groups to vent probably do not understand the nature of the beast. Many extreme groups go to the edge out of the fear of the unknown or plain ignorance; and, offering them an open conference, attempts to legitimize their cause, not assuage it.

A major battle with aggrieved parties is often the ability to properly define their opposition(s) or their conviction that there can never be peace between them and their adversary. Much as many peace loving people, groups and governments, have worked hard to bring about peace among warring factions, there has always been this inkling to assert one's position without giving difference to the opposition. Maybe Google's idea of opening up discussion in a conference to extreme terrorism issues or why extreme terrorism is a modern day caviler, can give the organization a global public citizen award, however, this initiative is probably not going to stop groups bent on anarchy and destruction. More importantly, this conference may end up being an icon for what not to do as a commercially successful global organization attempting to change the tide on a political problem across the globe.

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