Saturday 22 October 2016

Terror threat demands a methodical response

Published 28/07/2016 | 02:30

'A security response commensurate to the threat is essential. That means coordination and cooperation across the globe.' Photo: AFP/Getty
'A security response commensurate to the threat is essential. That means coordination and cooperation across the globe.' Photo: AFP/Getty

The human impulse to recoil from horror is understandable. In the last couple of weeks we have seen families and toddlers deliberately mown down, shoppers shot dead, concert-goers blown up - and now the murder of a frail and elderly priest during Mass. Who would not wish to turn away from such barbarism?

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But the spate of lone wolf attacks must be confronted. The more brutal and savage the atrocity, the more resolute and methodical we must be in rooting out the extremists. A security response commensurate to the threat is essential. That means coordination and cooperation across the globe.

It does not mean feeding into paranoia or stoking hatred and resentment, as the terrorists would wish.

But denial of the dangers, or failure to take due precautions in line with the dangers, would be a fatal error. What is unfolding in Europe is directly linked to the conflagration in the Middle East. The spiral of violence and the disintegration of entire countries is taking a massive toll. The toppling of dictators has not led to democracy, but merely fuelled a further descent into chaos. This was exacerbated by disastrous military campaigns coupled with reckless opportunism that have unleashed a whirlwind. Western leaders must meaningfully engage with this legacy of failures and misguided intervention.

Isil is thriving in the leadership vacuum; its raison d'être is to destroy. Its agenda - to dehumanise and to turn back the clock on civilisation - is being driven by manic predators exploiting alienated and deluded footsoldiers whose heads have been turned by hatred.

It is vital that there is a realistic awareness of the scale of the threat. But this is an asymmetrical war; stepping up security is necessary, yet deepening our understanding and strengthening intelligence about what we are up against is just as important. As we learned to our cost, it is far easier to decommission weapons than mindsets.

Clinton must be bolder to win against Teflon Trump

Hillary Clinton may have put the biggest crack yet in the glass ceiling, but the final breakthrough - becoming the first female president of the United States - is by no means guaranteed.

She has deservedly garnered enormous credit by establishing herself as the first female nominee of a major party to be in contention for the Capitol Hill contest.

She has come so far by dint of distinguished service and assured statecraft, but she has still only succeeded in shattering the second-largest glass ceiling in US politics. To make it through to the top floor, she will have to get past the considerable figure of Donald Trump. The garrulous billionaire has proven to be a formidable adversary - one the far more politically savvy Ms Clinton would have been expected to have swatted away.

Doughty campaigner though she undoubtedly is, she has thus far failed to turn back the tide of populism or dismantle the campaign platform that Mr Trump has built for himself on the shakiest political ground. Where Mr Trump has clearly staked out his territory among an army of disaffected and dissatisfied Americans who no longer feel themselves in the mainstream of opportunity, Ms Clinton has clung to a more staid and measured approach.

Substance rather than charisma ought to hold sway, but in the barnstorming world of political box-office, this is not always the case. She will need to be bolder if she is to make herself heard over the decibel level from the raucous Trump bandwagon. She has pledged to take on Mr Trump with "grit and grace". Whether these are the best weapons with which to puncture The Donald's ironclad confidence remains to be seen.

Irish Independent

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