Clem Sunter

The message from Manchester

2017-05-24 11:52
(Martin Rickett, AP)

(Martin Rickett, AP)

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WATCH: Donald Trump calls terrorists 'evil losers'

2017-05-24 11:45

Symbolic tributes were paid around the world on Tuesday in the wake of a suicide-bomber attack in Manchester that claimed 22 lives, while U.S. President Donald Trump had some choice words. Watch. WATCH

In a column last week, I ranked the religious flag as the number one flag changing the global game. The horrific bombing after a concert in Manchester, England this week is confirmation of the flag’s premier status.

Twenty five years ago in a book entitled The New Century and published by Human & Rousseau and Tafelberg, I wrote the following:

“The growth of fundamentalist Islam poses a serious challenge to Western lifestyles and values. This in itself is not a geopolitical problem. It only becomes one if attempts are made by zealots to impose Islam on countries wishing to pursue other paths of development.

“The attractions to the poor young billions of a religion based on the strict code of the Koran are obvious. It anchors their existence in spiritual certainties when all is flux around them; it gives a clear sense of purpose in a world that for many has no meaning whatsoever; and it abhors materialism, a quality the poor do not possess anyway through force of circumstance.

“The Middle East, Pakistan, the southern republics of the former Soviet Union and northern Africa are all falling under the spell of fundamentalist Islam. That is a formidable area of influence. How much further it will spread and at what rate is unknown.

“Equally unknown is whether the spreading of an idea will degenerate into a war of beliefs. A nuclear jihad is not out of the question. Fundamentalist Islam is a wild card with the ability to alter the balance of power in important parts of the world.”

I hasten to add that these words were based on research done by the Anglo American Corporation scenario team. Among them were the two top futurists in the world at the time, Pierre Wack and Ted Newland. Nine years later at the beginning of the new century, we had the 9/11 attack in New York and four years later the 7/7 attack in London. Now we have Manchester.

The immediate reaction of Western leaders is to call for the obliteration of the perpetrators, but this strategy by itself is totally flawed. It can be applied to enemies with a fixed geographical location. American and British bombers obliterated German and Japanese cities with millions of military and civilian casualties as a result. This brought them victory in the Second World War.

By contrast, the enemy today is highly dispersed. The destruction of cities like Aleppo, Mosul and Raqqa is not going to help at all because the enemy is already inside America and Europe; and they are prepared to die for their cause. The collateral damage in hitting these cities involves far more civilian casualties than any terrorist outrage and only serves as a clarion call for other young people to join extreme movements against the West.

The long-term strategy has to start from the fact that poverty, inequality and unemployment drive young people into the hands of extremists. These three factors started the Arab Spring and today many countries in the Middle East are in worse shape than when the revolution started.

Any military action must therefore be accompanied by an equivalent of the Marshall Plan to uplift the economies of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and others. Sadly, the charitable spirit that was around in the late 1940s is nowhere to be seen today.

The reason for the charity then was that Adolf Hitler only rose to power on account of the harsh conditions imposed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. This led to hyperinflation and the country’s economic collapse in the 1920s. The allies did not want to make the same mistake again. Consequently, Germany and Japan have flourished since the war and pose no threat to world peace now.

However, the passage of time and the hard economic conditions prevailing in the world today make the implementation of another Marshall Plan option highly unlikely. All we hear about is new arms deals. Thus, the war will continue unabated. No wonder the UK has raised its threat level to critical.

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