George Lakey: the eight tools of non-violent defence  

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A Lancaster Friend has drawn attention to the work of George Lakey, Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies.

One course he offered at the Quaker-run Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania was “Nonviolent Responses to Terrorism”. For their term paper, each student was asked to choose a country currently threatened by terrorism; get to know that country—its strengths, its weaknesses; and develop a defense strategy against the threat, a strategy that would be nonviolent in character.

In an earlier article he explains that he gathered eight non-military techniques that have worked for some country or other which made up a “toolbox” for the students.

The 8 Tools of Nonviolent Defense

  1. Ally-building and the infrastructure of economic development

Poverty and terrorism are indirectly linked. Economic development can reduce recruits and gain allies, especially if development is done in a democratic way. The terrorism by Northern Ireland’s Irish Republican Army, for example, was strongly reduced by grassroots, job-creating, economic development.

  1. Reducing cultural marginalization

As France, Britain and other countries have learned, marginalizing a group within your population is not safe or sensible; terrorists grow under those conditions. Much marginalizing is unintentional, but it can be reduced. “Freedom of the press,” for example, transforms into “provocation” when it further marginalizes a population that is already one-down. When Anglophone Canada reduced its marginalization, it reduced the threat of terrorism from Quebec.

       3. Nonviolent protest/campaigns among the defenders, plus unarmed civilian peacekeeping

Some terror campaigns have lapsed because they lost popular support. That’s because terror’s strategic use is often to gain attention, provoke a violent response and win more support in the broader population.The U.S. civil rights movement brilliantly handled the Ku Klux Klan’s threat to activists, most dangerous when there was no effective law enforcement to help. The nonviolent tactics reduced the KKK’s appeal among white segregationists. Since the 1980s, pacifists and others have established an additional, promising tool: intentional and planned unarmed civilian peacekeeping. (Peace Brigades International, for example.)

  1. Pro-conflict education and training

Ironically, terror often happens when a population tries to suppress conflicts instead of supporting their expression. A technique for reducing terror, therefore, is to spread a pro-conflict attitude and the nonviolent skills that support people waging conflict to give full voice to their grievances.

  1. Post-terror recovery programs

Keep in mind that terrorists often have the goal of increasing polarization. Recovery programs can help prevent that polarization by building resilience, so people don’t go rigid with fear and create self-fulfilling prophecies. The leap forward in trauma counseling is relevant for this technique.

  1. Police as peace officers: the infrastructure of norms and laws

Police work can become far more effective through more community policing and reduction of the social distance between police and the neighborhoods they serve. In some countries this requires re-conceptualization of the police from defenders of the property of the dominant group to genuine peace officers; witness the unarmed Icelandic police. Countries like the United States need to join the growing global infrastructure of human rights law reflected in the Land Mines Treaty and International Criminal Court, and accept accountability for their own officials who are probable war criminals.

  1. Policy changes and the concept of reckless behavior

Governments sometimes make choices that invite — almost beg for — a terrorist response. Political scientist and sometime U.S. Air Force consultant Robert A. Pape showed in 2005 that the United States has repeatedly done this, often by putting troops on someone else’s land. In his recent book “Cutting the Fuse,” he and James K. Feldman give concrete examples of governments reducing the terror threat by ending such reckless behavior. To protect themselves from terror, citizens in all countries need to gain control of their own governments and force them to behave.

  1. Negotiation

Governments often say “we don’t negotiate with terrorists,” but when they say that they are often lying. Governments have often reduced or eliminated terrorism through negotiation, and negotiation skills continue to grow in sophistication.

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George Lakey ends:    

At the request of a group of U.S. experts on counter-terrorism, I described our Swarthmore work and especially the eight techniques.

The experts recognized that each of these tools have indeed been used in real-life situations in one place or another, with some degree of success. They also saw no problem, in principle, in devising a comprehensive strategy that would create synergies among the tools.

The problem they saw was persuading a government to take such a bold, innovative leap. I learned that the U.S. government is configured in such a way that it cannot make a creative nonviolent response that would be far more effective than the response that we have been making.

Above: George Lakey’s How We Win: A Guide to Nonviolent Direct Action Campaigning, published by Melville House

Video: https://quakerspeak.com/video/nonviolent-response-to-terrorism/

 

 

 

 

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