The Roots of Violent Extremism

A Small Wars Journal and Military Writers Guild Writing Contest Finalist Article

The Roots of Violent Extremism

Troy E. Mitchell

Introduction

Today’s wars displace more individuals, as geopolitical competition leads to a less controlled, less predictable unstable environment in which violent extremism may spawn. Insurgencies cause the collapse of governments, typically as a result of civil war, which leads to instability that may require an external state to intervene to quell the disruption. Furthermore, the recent waves of mass demonstrations and upheavals in countries that were previously stable are difficult for analysts to anticipate. Foreign investments intertwine in growing economies and create political stability, alliances, and viable markets. In many of these countries, following the initial success of mass opposition movements in overthrowing their problematic regimes, new governments are viewed as harbingers of long-term improvement. However, new political leaders prove capable of effectively managing their governments and economies, especially among growing tensions from violent extremism.[1]

Initially, a definition corresponding to the term of “political instability” is required to define the scope of the research question. David Sanders (1981) defines “political instability” as:

The extent to which a political system characterized by ‘unstable’ at any given point in time varies in direct proportion to the extent to which the occurrence or non-occurrence of changes in and challenges to the government, regime or community deviate from the previous system-specific ‘normal’ pattern of regime/government/community changes or challenges; a pattern which will itself vary over time.[2]

Globalization and the associated interdependence of states mean that the dynamics of state instability have repercussions for neighboring countries and the wider global community, in addition to local communities in weak states. The changing context of the international security architecture and the requirement for an appropriate response were recognized prior to 1992, when the UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali presented the Agenda for Peace, a plan for collective global security. He explained:

Respect for a state’s fundamental sovereignty and integrity are crucial to any common international progress. The time of absolute and exclusive sovereignty, however, has passed; reality never matched its theory. It is the task of leaders of States today to understand this and to find a balance between the needs of good internal governance and the requirements of an ever more interdependent world.[3]

Acting to address the sources and symptoms of conflict and war in a globalized world, Boutros-Ghali formalized the nascent doctrine of intervention in sovereign states by members of the global community. His recommendations provided various forms of intervention appropriate to the post-Cold War environment: preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping, peacemaking, and post-conflict peacebuilding. In the Agenda for Peace, Boutros-Ghali specifies the use of international military action as a means of restoring international peace and security.

Globally the power of governments is weakening with the rise of the middle class moving beyond basic needs, and craving transparency and accountability. While the middle class places increasing demands on their government, they become more restless.[4] If fragile states fail to address issues of accountability, it is unlikely that peace agreements sustain. Competition between powerful states increasingly lends a regional or international color to civil wars, rendering their resolution more complex.[5] Thus, the world observes a resurgence of nationalism with governments displaying short-term national agendas, shifting toward populist behavior while appealing to legitimacy.[6]

The international community continues to accept imperfect peace processes that accompany failed transitions. In turn, many intervening governments arrive too late, offer too little, and exit swiftly, as displayed in many African countries. In a failing global society, weak, corrupt states set the stage for internal wars with external enablers displaying a lack of capacity leaving their political will open to question.[7] The resolution of fragile states’ systems takes time. The World Bank Development Report said it takes 17 years on average to navigate from war to a peace agreement that includes sustainable institutions and order. In 20 of the fastest-moving countries it took an average of 17 years to draw the military out of politics, 20 years to achieve functioning bureaucratic quality, and 27 years to bring corruption under reasonable control.[8]

There are several analytical techniques for predicting potential outcomes relative to political instability. Using these techniques, intelligence organizations evaluate the most dangerous or the most violent course of action. Few lenses give insight into potential problems than may give rise to conflicts that are not usual in the determination of a country’s normalcy. Therefore, intelligence analysts should focus on where the greatest sense of deadly violence and impact is by using predictive analysis, under the auspices of the national interest, of violence arising from instability and a state’s fragility. Thus, it is a matter of what a nation needs to do to mitigate risks in these environments, and the cost of doing so?

Research Question

The article is designed to study the following research question: which characteristics of a state predict internal instability leading to violent extremism? This study refers to the following causative factors in determining the capability of states to effectively overcome various internal and external pressure points threatening them:

1. Protracted region conflict—regional conflicts encroaching upon the state, leading to instability

2. Protracted social conflict—political participation through competitive elections, consensual constitution and rule of law, civil and human rights, and civil society institutions, environmental health, food, energy and medical supplies, transportation system, and emergency response capability to disasters

3. Government capacity—political leadership, organizational/bureaucratic, internal security, legitimacy, and judiciary

4. Dwindling economic conditions—economic development and growth, income parity, quality education and high literacy, and low level of human brain flight

5. Opposition conditions—ethnic, religious and sectarian integration, low levels of dissatisfaction and dissent, absence of insurgent activities, and peaceful relations with neighboring states

This research discusses a conceptual framework that focuses on general categories and their subcomponent indicators and constitutes effective governance to provide intelligence analysts with an opportunity to anticipate the preconditions that produce global state instabilities. Performing predictive analysis with weighted properties and scored to evaluate potential weaknesses and gaps requires identifying new countries of concern and what the triggering effects of their crises may be upon neighboring stable countries.

Research Methodologies

The theoretical framework developed explores the endogenous (structural and societal) and exogenous (regional and global) conditions, which lead to state instability and fragility, thereby establishing the conditions of failure when afflicting the state over prolonged periods. State failure is defined as the state suffers from an overwhelming loss of legitimacy across its geographic area; where it is unable or unwilling to provide public goods and services, justice and security, opportunities for self-actualization and socioeconomic development; where its relationship with civil society is highly asymmetrical; and where society itself is highly fragmented, challenging the cohesiveness of the state through the manifestation of protracted conflict. Figure 1 illustrates the critical components of the theoretical framework postulated for the diagnosis of state failure. The categories provided in Figure 1 supported the analysis based on Appendix C.

Figure 1: The cycle alludes to five causative factors leading to the injection of violent extremism. Any one of the factors may support the injection, yet when combined they predict the onset of political instability.

Dwindling Economy

The general income level of a nation affects its receptivity to democratic norms. If there is enough wealth in the country, it is more palatable to accept the idea of indifference to which side of governance obtains power. On the other hand, if the loss of office leads to the increased loss for major power groups, then the group losing control seeks to retain or secure office by any means available.[9] One hardly expects economic growth in light of political turmoil, riots, and unpredictable changes in a regime. Thus, it is those societies at low to middle levels of economic development, where violence increases across nations, are precisely those with higher rates of population growth and relatively low rates of economic growth.

As shown in Appendix C, the dwindling economy attribute articulates seven indicators supporting a quantifiable analysis. Comparing four countries a ranking is established of 1 to 5. Typically, a ranking of 1 to 4 may be established to identify which country is performing better in a given indicator. In some cases, one country performed extremely well comparatively, hence the alteration in numbers to reflect the superior performance. In most cases a metric of 1 to 4 is established as opposed to 1 to 5. The first indicator compares a country’s ability to provide a high level of economic development and not see educated individuals leaving in pursuit of better lives. This indicator supports a return of individuals supporting their government, which provides employment and relatively low inflation. Other indicators compared poverty, GDP growth, out of pocket health-care expenses, military expenditures for domestic security, and the ability to manage taxes by controlling some corruption.

Protracted Region Conflict (PRC)

One of the critical considerations in societal collapse is a hostile neighbor intervening in domestic issues. When contemplating the medium to transcribe local issues relative to regional associations, it is important to broaden this perspective and consider the role of hostile powers that threaten the stability of weak and fragile states. The relations of weak and fragile states with neighboring states are examined as well, associating contentious relationships with distant conquering states. Patterns of sporadic or chronic hostilities with neighboring states concern the impact on state fragility. Likewise, PRC supports the examination of the impact of Western-led humanitarian and strategic military interventions in perceived failed and fragile states.

In the cycle of state failure, protracted regional conflict identifies six variables in Appendix C. The six variables are the spillover of violence from neighboring countries, military intervention, foreign aid intervention, international arms transfers, trade dependence, and peaceful relations with neighboring states.

Protracted Social Conflict (PSC)

The protracted social conflict phase of the cycle of state failure had the most indicators at eleven. This phase represents the ability of a state to support its constituents, and, where sufficient, prevents the injection of extremists who may support regime change. The indicators are healthy environment, education, literacy rates, natural resource depletion, child mortality, life expectancy, life satisfaction, freedom, voice and accountability, internal security, and the percentage of the population affected by natural disasters.

The indicators selected for this phase support unique characteristics associated with domestic concerns. As mentioned, the higher the literacy and education rates, the less likely a country is to support the injection of a counter-narrative from VE against the government. Moreover, when a state provides a disease-free environment for the population, the life expectancy increases. Meanwhile, decreases in child mortality rates ensure that individuals have the potential to increase the population by creating economic worth to the state and a better way of life.

Low-status persons without rich and flexible perspectives are likely to lack a developed sense of the past and the future. Their education is unlikely to have left them with any historical overview or with any idea of a continuing tradition. Vast amounts of the population with disconnected information possess little historical knowledge of various ideological processes. With little intellectual or cultural knowledge and with little training in testing opposing views against reason and existing judgments, decisions are made according to promptings of the received ideas of the group, which come to mind first. Similarly, because there is little real sense of the future; the temptation of an alternative utopia arises.

Declining Governance

There are eight indicators in the declining governance cycle of state failure. They are political participation, stability, ability to manage a modern state, human development, Internet users, criminal justice system, adherence to civil rights, and the type of electoral system. The declining governance phase’s unique indicators are the rule of law, competitive electoral systems, and Internet users.

Opposition

The final observed phase in the cycle of state failure was opposition, which displays seven indicators. The indicators range from ethnic/sectarian violence, riots, refugees, coups, conflict intensity, human rights abuses, and terrorist group activities. All of these indicators support the spread of VE throughout the state when supported by any of the previously mentioned phases in the cycle of state failure.

Antagonistic group histories, exclusionist myths, demonizing propaganda and dehumanizing ideologies serve to justify discriminatory policies and legitimize atrocities. In these circumstances, actions are mutually interpreted in the most threatening light, “the worst motivations tend to be attributed to the other side,” the space for compromise and accommodation shrinks and “proposals for political solutions become rare, and tend to be perceived on all sides as mechanisms for gaining relative power and control”.[10] All of these attributes intensify as political crisis spiral into war, where new vested interests emerge dependent on the political economy of the war itself, the most violent and unruly elements in society appear in leadership roles and criminality becomes a political norm. At the limit, disintegration follows. With sustained attrition, political structures buckle and collapse. It is a social implosion, which creates a power vacuum.

A frequent observation by analysis of comparative violence derives insurrections and rebellions hinge in part to the presence of primordial cleavages. Hibb cites:

The possibility of an insurrectionary movement arising and then employing organized violence depends upon the existence of sharp divisions within society created by regional, ethnic, linguistic, class, religious, and other communal differences that may provide the necessary social and demographic basis for supporting the movement.[11]

Injection of VE

With the growing use of the tactic of terrorism to support extremist groups in achieving their aims of creating political instability, the status of extremist religion is a product of the same social forces that sustain authoritarian political attitudes. In the affected regions, the revolts of the poor, tinged with religion, carry millennial ideas that spawn and spread to small sects that support extremism. These projections are a “defense mechanism of the disinherited; despairing of obtaining substantial blessings through social processes, they turn on the world which withholds benefits and seeks its destruction in a cosmic cataclysm which exalts them and cast down the rich and powerful”.[12] When the five attributes described above come together as a psychological appeal to imagination and simplicity of feeling with a non-reflective habit of mind, a primitive energy, and an urgent sense of need forms.

To summarize, the lower class individual is likely to have been exposed to punishment, lack of love, and a general atmosphere of tension and aggression from early childhood and tends to feel deep-rooted hostilities expressed in ethnic prejudice, political authoritarianism, and chiliastic religion. The extremist’s educational attainment is less than others with a higher socioeconomic status, and their association as a child with others of similar background fails to stimulate intellectual interests, yet creates an atmosphere preventing educational experiences from increasing their general social sophistication and understanding of differing groups and ideas. Leaving school puts the individuals in an environment where they are surrounded on the job by others with a similarly restricted cultural, educational, and family background. Little external influence impinges on their limited environment. From early childhood, these individuals seek immediate gratification, rather than engaging in pastimes with long-term rewards.

Predictive Analysis

Utilizing formulas to predict instability, intelligence analysts predict future concerns to support preventive policymaking. Focusing on these countries, Appendix A identifies states for continued analysis relative to predicting instability. Establishing initial assessment from various organizations, these indices derive a historical perspective developing a foundational concern within the arc of instability.

The countries are compiled in Appendix B for baseline analysis to support a cursory understanding of the countries of interest prior to injecting them into the previously mentioned formulas associated with the five causative factors to monitor the progress of each state. Appendix B provides a periodical review of observable events or trends, which allow the analyst to observe events, targets, emerging trends and warn of unanticipated change. This model’s objective provides analysts and policymakers with an empirically based tool for examining the political, military, socioeconomic, environmental, and opposition activity threads that are the geopolitical makeup of the countries of interest to assess their performance and effectiveness in managing multi-dimensional issues and pressures. Comparing cumulative scores over time reveals a targeted country’s relative performance during periods of concern, with indicators alluding to strengths or problem areas to develop actionable early warning policy response measures to preempt a state’s inability to govern.[13]

The continual theme for predicting flash points of violent extremism is: which characteristics of a state predict internal instability leading to violent extremism? Political violence is defined as, “an episodic interaction between social identity groups engaged in an ongoing, iterative relationship in which instrumental force is used and results in death and/or injury to humans”.[14]

To begin to formulate a response to the question, a multi-method approach was used. Initially, a summary and review of the compiled state fragility indices literature is summarized in Appendix A relating to the most fragile states over the past ten years. By compiling the six references, a commonality was identified that resulted in six potential topics to focus the theme.

Next, the Central Intelligence Agency’s structured analytical technique for identifying indicators or signposts for change reflected a periodical review of observable events or trends to monitor and warn of otherwise unanticipated change.[15] Although the structured analytical technique served as the baseline stability categories and indicators, additional indicators were added to serve as an exhaustive research method. Two of the worst countries from Appendix A were researched for Appendix B in addition to a country identified as a contender for a fragile state over the past decade. For each of the respective regions of the world, case studies are expounded on to mix quantitative data sourced from various references with qualitative input. Using Africa as an example, four states consistently form the most fragile states on the continent. Somalia serves as a failed state with the injection of violent extremism, whereas South Sudan and Sudan display ethnic violence and government corruption. The Central African Republic displays religious violence. The inclusion of Nigeria serves as a viable test as a counter-narrative because the country is an economically successful state, yet is experiencing an injection of violent extremism from Boko Haram. Therefore, the four African case studies reference the following distinct characteristics:

Somalia—unstable country with the injection of violent extremism

South Sudan—unstable country with protracted social and regional conflicts

Central African Republic—unstable country with protracted social conflict

Nigeria—stable country with the injection of violent extremism, and protracted social and regional conflicts

The metrics for validating potential Western intervention in fragile countries were the National Security Strategy questions, which supported narrowing the list of potential fragile countries of interest to four case studies. Reverting back to the example of Africa, these four variables beg the question as to why does Somalia possess the injection of violent extremism, whereas the remaining countries do not? Meanwhile, if Nigeria possesses many of the attributes conducive to violent extremism, why has the country not succumbed along a similar path as Somalia? Unfortunately, many of the states listed in Appendix B possess systems that remain largely ignorant of their role and largely impotent in their responsibilities as players are left to respond as they see fit, and the specifics of their involvement correlate to myopic rational choice terms.

There are several defined causative factors in determining the capability of synthetic states to effectively overcome various internal and external pressure points threatening them.

The fragile countries are analyzed based on the following methodology of instability indicators:

The formula depicted in Figure 2 defines attributes articulated in politically unstable environments of a country (InstabilityX). When a country changes the government (ΔG), and experiences economic (ΔE), regional (PRC), and social conflicts (PSC), an opportunity arises for the injection of VE into the now fragile country. When there is a history (H) of VE in the country over time, there is an increased likelihood of the continual injection of extremism as the social and political landscape alters. The creation of the predictive formula supports multiple factors articulated in the three Appendices with the qualitative analysis that provides a multi-faceted approach to conflict resolution. There is not one primary factor among the multiple facets, which supports a sole justification for countering the formula’s applicability. By incorporating all five values, a holistic approach to identifying core issues within a fragile state is addressed. Meanwhile, the outcome of the formula supports a metric for concern.

Instabilityx(Country) = ((ΔG + ΔE+ PSC + PRC) / (VE (internal or external affiliates) + H)) x 2

G = Change in governance indicators from Appendix B (government capacity and legitimacy)

E = Change in economic situation from Appendix B

PSC = Protracted social conflict change from Appendix B

PRC = Protracted regional conflict

VE = Injection of violent extremism

H = History of violent extremism

Figure 2: Instability country formula - Identifying the independent variables in the unstable country formula supports varying indications relative to predictive modeling supporting conditions conducive to the injection of violent extremism. 

When continuing to monitor the various indicators within each phase of the cycle of state failure, differences in metric value support predictive modeling relative to the injection of VE leading to state failure and the potential for foreign intervention. Initially, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Central African Republic are below the 50 percent criteria supporting indications of potential foreign intervention based on Appendix B’s estimate of national interest requirements. If intelligence analysts are depicting this indication on a heat chart, the color shifts from yellow to amber. As the percentage broaches 33 percent, countries should fall into the continual monitoring category shifting from a yellow green color to a yellow color. These are the heat signatures of change.

The formula was designed based on outcomes of Appendix C, which draws on Appendices A and B. In a simplistic approach to supporting the formula, these variables are tallied in Appendix C as an example of continuing to monitor for predictive analysis. Each independent variable scored a rating from 0 (meaning non-applicable) through 5 (indicating citing harsh conditions of instability) inhibiting a collection metric or drastic changes in the total number between the four countries. If a country received a not rated (N/R) scoring from Appendix B, the country obtained a score of five. Finally, the quantity of indicators per variable can continue to lengthen based on refinements relative to the intelligence analysts’ requirements and the focal point of their supporting organization.

This type of research tradition supports terrorism and counter-terrorism research as a future analysis of the category of political instability fostering an environment of ideological terrorism. Through research, the researcher identifies steps or indicators alluding to this action occurring. Potentially, the theory revolves around the potential for emerging extremist factions and provides a social outreach within the failing state as a means to fill the void in the community.

Key Findings

The key findings using the instability formula identify three primary areas of the impact of governance, the incursion of state fragility, and the injection of VE.

1. The impact of governance. In an attempt to deconstruct the failed states paradigm, the dissertation explored key theoretical and discursive influences shaping the fragility debate. In today’s operating environment, and within the arc of instability, turmoil increases. On a global level, increasing geopolitical competition leads to a less controlled and predictable world. Meanwhile, as power is more diffuse, antagonism between regional powers matters more. Competition between powerful states increasingly lends a local or international color to civil wars, rendering their resolution more complex.

Wars and instability are becoming more geographically concentrated, compounded by a concerning tendency toward violence in countries attempting to transition to democracy. Some of the world’s most troubling countries are those attempting to transition away from authoritarian rules, such as Libya and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Transitioning governments pose dilemmas for domestic and foreign powers. On one hand, the behavior of many authoritarian rulers creates problems later as they hollow out institutions, repress their opponents, neglect many of their constituents, and often leave succession mechanisms vague. Conversely, regime change creates significant complications because no system is in place to manage change. Throughout 2015, VE remains a persistent and growing threat by destabilizing governments, killing civilians, and radicalizing local populations.

Non-state armed groups often fill the void where states are unable or unwilling to assert their dominance. Weber defines the state as an entity that has a monopoly of the legitimate use of violence in a territory.[16] However, conflict areas are characterized by states losing the support of their constituents. Thus, what is legitimate becomes unmoored from its Weberian foundation. In this context, alternative forms of power, control, and coercion develop to fill the void. Nowhere is this void more visible than at the margins of the state where warlords and non-state armed groups principally operate.[17] They derive power from their position at the frontiers where states have difficulty extending power. Frontier examples include rebel groups such as the LRA, militias throughout the CAR, and the smattering of rebel groups in South Sudan. Although they may attack the heart of the state, their source of power remains at the periphery.

2. The incursion of state fragility. Western theoretical frameworks examining state failure do not explore the state’s relationship with society and the capacity of civil society to effect systemic change dynamics that are critical for determining a state’s resilience to cope with instability. The disadvantage of an exclusive focus on the dynamics of state instability provides a skewed analysis of the issue, sometimes magnifying the level of threat to domestic, regional and global stability, and potentially rationalizing reactive external responses.

Additionally, the ideas of enduring rivalries and protracted social conflicts intertwined with regional conflicts address ways of viewing wars and acts of warfare in their context. Protracted social conflicts are debilitating to the social groups consumed by them. These hostile interactions involve sporadic episodes of war displaying no apparent beginning or end. When they periodically erupt into war, it is fought without rules or standards of conduct.[18] On the other hand, rivalries rarely involve actual warfare, as the stakes are too high.

In light of these concerns addressed throughout the article, the twenty-first-century security environment is characterized by the following dimensions:

• A proliferation in the number of weak and failing states as well as of powerful armed groups able, through violent and nonviolent means, to affect stability and security at the local, regional, and, in some instances, even global levels.

• The proliferation of actors creates new interactions and interrelationships between and among local, regional, and global players.

• These first two developments, in turn, foster the emergence of coalitions of states, armed groups, and other non-state actors. These formal and informal groupings achieve their aims by employing irregular warfare tools and techniques.

• Faced with security challenges of these hostile coalitions of actors, democratic states foster coalitions of state and non-state allies to oppose them.[19]

Even when the constituent behaviors of instability are identified and schematized, a second subsidiary problem persists. This problem, broadly of cultural relativity, concerns the question as to whether equivalent or identical frequency of predictable outcomes on any given instability dimension constitutes comparable levels of instability. In other words, are ten demonstrations in country A within the arc of instability during a given period relative to the same quantity of instability as ten demonstrations in country B within the same period, even though country A has a long history of frequent and intense demonstrations while country B has yet to experience such violent political outbursts over the previous ten years or more? The concluding response is ‘no.’ Thus, the conclusion supports the destabilizing impact of any given political event is considered within the context of the system and period in which it occurs; thereby considered in terms of the extent to which it constitutes a deviation from the previous system pattern. With this in mind, it is argued that:

The extent to which a political system may be characterized as unstable at any given point in time varies in direct proportion to the extent to which the occurrence or non-occurrence of changes in and challenges to the government, …(or)…regime…deviate from the previous system-specific ‘normal’ pattern of regime/government changes or challenges; a pattern which will itself vary over time.[20]

3. The injection of violent extremism. The initiation of violence by the state against its citizens contradicts its primary function, as it then becomes the transgressor or violator of societal norms and conversations rather than the adjudicator. In such case, the state abnegates its legitimate authority, which is its primary instrument of conflict management through justice. Without the cloak of legitimacy, the state acts as another social identity group competing for preeminence or predominance in the social milieu.[21] To examine the problem of violence meaningfully, the entire system must be considered because the full process of social conflict and the possibility of violent dysfunction are complex and inextricably intertwined with the normal social process. Once it becomes noticeable as violence and as a problem, it is already high enough to defy rational control.

All forms of political violence and warfare are social processes and symptomatic of advanced systemic breakdown and societal disintegration based on the injection of a multitude of factors which have the capability to alter the status quo. In this sense, ethnic violence is the most insidious form of intra-state political violence in that it presupposes a breakdown in authority structures that are required to impose measures of control against violence, retains minimal organization and coordination to invoke high levels of mechanized warfare, and characterizes the nature of the conflict in evocative, symbolic terms that are intrinsically non-negotiable.[22] Ethnic conflict is especially volatile when ethnic identities coincide with religious identities.

Stateless groups present a greater threat than nation states because extremists wield weapons and mount assaults that many nations would not dare to attempt. Meanwhile, trends in technology shape the rise of stateless power. Computers, the Internet, cellular and satellite telephones, and satellite television provide extremists unprecedented access to one another. This connectedness enables extremists throughout the globe to organize themselves more efficiently than ever before. Extremist groups assemble command and control structures that previously would have been organized only by wealthy nation states.

One particularly potent trigger is a confrontation with the consequences of violence. A fascination with violence is characteristic of extremist narratives and propaganda across different forms of extremism. Their violence and resulting human suffering is displayed and emphasized in the communication, frequently with heartbreaking footage of dead, wounded, or suffering civilians. Our violence is glorified and celebrated as the only possible response to the injustices occurring. The consequences of extremists’ violence are glossed over, or the victims portrayed as faceless and anonymous non-humans. Truly, things are not like that, and when confronted with the human costs of violence, some begin to doubt.

Another trigger of ideological doubt is the entrance of a significant other into the world of the extremist—a person who in a credible and convincing way represents a different perspective from the extremists. The significant other may be a romantic partner, yet one who serves as a fellow human being displaying concern, interest, and willingness to collaborate. In some cases, the person belongs to the extremist’s out-group, yet acts kindly, selflessly, and justly.

It appears in the different forms of extremism that the strongly dualistic worldview with its sharp division of the world into us and them, right and wrong, black and white turns into a liability to the extremist group in the sense that it precludes a flexible coping with internal conflicts. Conflict resolution is reduced to two options: either the dissenter is forced entirely to conform, or the dissenter is excluded. Since the ideology is presumed to represent the world, as it is the truth, dissent is ascribed to character weakness, personal flaws, or deviousness.

In the absence of UN Security Council reform to promote greater institutional accountability and responsiveness, much more can be done to bolster the relationship between the UN Security Council and the African Union’s Peace and Security Council. This includes greater integration between the African Union and United Nation’s peacekeeping and peacebuilding missions, including assessed contributions for African Union peacekeeping missions; consultations prior to decisions about division of labor and sharing of responsibilities; the practical use of the comparative advantages of the African Union and its regional mechanisms for conflict prevention, management and resolution; the full operationalization of the African Standby Force; and greater financial support by African member states to African peace efforts.[23]

Efforts should be made to build informal local-level institutions for resilience and conflict prevention, which bridge formal state institutions and authority with traditional and informal institutions. The focus of conflict prevention is shifting to critical areas of land and other natural resource disputes in rural areas, and urban conflict along identity lines in informal settlements and underserved and marginalized areas, which is often experienced as the result of unmanaged urbanization.

In summary, the totality of the security challenges facing the nations and the evolving character of various threats demand earlier action to prevent these challenges from scaling beyond our level of strategic depth and capacity to respond. Stabilizing a disordered world requires a proactive stance to successfully compete with state, non-state actors, and others for relative superiority over the physical, cognitive, and moral security of critical populations to prevent political instability throughout the arc of instability. Just as the sunrise is predictable, so is predicting elements to counter VE in a new normal environment by anticipating and responding to the new dawn.

Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

End Notes

[1] Sinai, J. (2014, Spring/Summer). The Stable States Index. The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies, 20(3), 29-32.

[2] Sanders, D. (1981). Patterns of Political Instability. London: The Macmillan Press, LTD.

[3] Boutros-Ghali, B. (1992). An Agenda for Peace: Preventive Diplomacy, Peacemaking and Peace-keeping. Report of the Secretary-General. New York: United Nations, Department of Public Information. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/Docs/SG/agpeace.html>4

[4] Council on Foreign Relations (Producer). (2015, January 14). What to Worry About in 2015 [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.cfr.org/

[5] Guehenno, J. M. (2015, January 2). 10 Wars to Watch in 2015. Foreign Policy. Retrieved from http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/01/02/10-wars-to-watch-in-2015/

[6] Council on Foreign Relations, 2015.

[7] Ibid.

[8] World Bank. (2011). World Development Report: Conflict, Security, and Development. Washington DC: International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

[9] Lipset, S. M. (1963). Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics. New York: Anchor Books.

[10] Azar, E. (1990). The Management of Protracted Social Conflict: Theory & Cases. Aldershot: Dartmouth, p. 15.

[11] Hibbs, D. A. (1973). Mass Political Violence: A Cross-National Causal Analysis. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

[12] Lipset, 1963, p. 98.

[13] Sinai, 2014.

[14] Marshall, M. G. (1999). Third World War: System, Process, and Conflict Dynamics. Boulder: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, p. 19.

[15] CIA, 2009.

[16] Weber, M. (1919). Politics as a Vocation. Retrieved from:

http://www2.selu.edu/Academics/Faculty/jbell/weber.pdf

[17] Ibid.

[18] Marshall, 1999.

[19] Shultz, R., Godson, R., Hanlon, Q., and Ravich, S. (Summer, 2011). The Sources of Instability in the Twenty-First Century: Weak States, Armed Groups, and Irregular Conflict. Strategic Studies Quarterly, 73–94.

[20] Sanders, D. (1981). Patterns of Political Instability. London: The Macmillan Press, LTD, p. 199.

[21] Marshall, 1999.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Cilliers, J., & Sisk, T. D. (2013, October). Prospects for Africa’s 26 Fragile Countries. Institute for Security Studies. African Futures Paper. Retrieved from www.issafrica.org

 

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Comments

Would and or could one define what we are seeing right now in the US...a phase of destabilization???

QUOTE
The extent to which a political system characterized by ‘unstable’ at any given point in time varies in direct proportion to the extent to which the occurrence or non-occurrence of changes in and challenges to the government, regime or community deviate from the previous system-specific ‘normal’ pattern of regime/government/community changes or challenges; a pattern which will itself vary over time.[2]
Globalization and the associated interdependence of states mean that the dynamics of state instability have repercussions for neighboring countries and the wider global community, in addition to local communities in weak states
UNQUOTE

Why is it that Americans are so fixated on jihadists but forget that there are over 1400 US armed militia groups that necessarily do not agree with the current form of US government_

AND actually recently more Americans have been killed by US ultra rightists than by jihadists from the Muslim countries Trump wants to ban entering the US...

But notice there is no discussion that Americans can kill Americans and not be jihadists...

Outlaw,

I was actually thinking the same thing. Humans are humans. Yes, culture has an influence, but only so far as the economics of the region support that system. As the author points out, if there is no economic base for the people to to be a part of - not just survive but thrive - then instability results.

What I find fascinating about the United States is that the economic system is not so bad in real terms. Yes, relative to what it had been in the past a lot of people are doing worse. But if you live in the bottom 25% of earners in the U.S. you are probably still living better than most of the top 25% of earners in Afghanistan. This is where I see culture making a difference. Culture does not change human nature, it simply sets the frame of reference from which people shift.

In any case, Americans are not immune from the problems that result from poor economics and the lack of a middle class. We are becoming more nationalist and more right wing by the day. The author is accurately outlining what we can expect here if the economic system does not change.

TC...you are so right ...part of the radicalization of US politics is in fact due to an economic shift caused largly not by globalization but rather changing technologies and a demand for an education to support that technology shift...

AND what has also never really been discussed in US politics rural vs. cities...with the rural areas dying out as workers migrate to where the jobs are and where more opportunities are for say healthcare and better education. This was the core debate carried by the political KKK in the late 20s which caused them to grow to the point that Hoover shut them down as a threat.

WHAT the US is not prepared for is the "robot" employee standing next to you....right now a far larger number of actual formerly good paying manufacturing jobs have be lost to the fellow called "robot" than to any so called free trade agreement that Trump loves to bash....

Right now we are in the middle of the fourth generation of industrialization and actually we are seeing in at least in IT...the true beginnings of the fifth technological revolution AI...also seen lately in manufacturing as well.

Pushing even more Americans into lower paying jobs thus lowering their economic situation with all the follow on problems...

BUT armed US militias with over 1300 to date are far more a danger when coupled with a sinking economic level than a bunch of jihadists running around the globe right now....

WHAT is extremely interesting is that where there has been a strong unending developing split between rich and poor...UK and the US...as the main primary tow countries right now...there has been a massive swing to the right and populist/nationalist movements ie Trump and Brexit......

Where that split is not so strong say Netherlands, France and Germany and yes even Italy...those rising populist movements are in fact dying off due to a rebound in the economic conditions of EU...and in those countries to include Italy the economic split between rich and poor is not as strong as say in UK and US.

therein lies the core problem of the US...when a Koch Brothers group demands far more healthcare costs due to their belief the poor can support themselves and eat cake.

The single greatest damage to US democracy was the SC decision Citizens United...where the rich can actually purchase a political win vs those that have no vice any longer in that economic system even if you are in the so called shrinking middle class....

Right now I would even go so far as to state that what we are seeing in the US and UK is total and complete uncontrolled capitalism....

I am rereading Kilcullen serendipity to reading this article. Both are excellently framed to broaden our concept of what new forms of conflict or those that had remained undefined and a background to some apparent insurgencies. But one aspect continues to be ignored wars of annihilation.
There remains no consensus on wars of annihilation recently I was stunned to learn less than 1/2 the worlds population know what the Holocaust is, and with the rise in antisemitism and the fact numerous world leaders deny the facts of the Holocaust to include the Ayatollah it should raise red flags as to what other courses might a population do for the sake of preserving a nation or a group.
President Erdogan is still in public denial about the Armenian Horrors, and the same explanations were incorporated by Hitler with themes like stabbed in the back, Armenians were referred to by Hitler as Uber Jews, and the annihilation of all the Armenians was deemed a national necessity for the preservation of the Turkish nation.
Obviously this is much abbreviated, but what I am trying to convey is that genocide as an option some demographic and other national or alternative government groups is in play.
A real candidate for genocidal maniacs is the Islamic State.
Simply acknowledging that genocide remains a constant in some instances as the geo political and economic crisis become more severe in the coming years it is more likely the annihilation of other peoples will become a popular solution for closed groups.

I am rereading Kilcullen serendipity to reading this article. Both are excellently framed to broaden our concept of what new forms of conflict or those that had remained undefined and a background to some apparent insurgencies. But one aspect continues to be ignored wars of annihilation.
There remains no consensus on wars of annihilation recently I was stunned to learn less than 1/2 the worlds population know what the Holocaust is, and with the rise in antisemitism and the fact numerous world leaders deny the facts of the Holocaust to include the Ayatollah it should raise red flags as to what other courses might a population do for the sake of preserving a nation or a group.
President Erdogan is still in public denial about the Armenian Horrors, and the same explanations were incorporated by Hitler with themes like stabbed in the back, Armenians were referred to by Hitler as Uber Jews, and the annihilation of all the Armenians was deemed a national necessity for the preservation of the Turkish nation.
Obviously this is much abbreviated, but what I am trying to convey is that genocide as an option some demographic and other national or alternative government groups is in play.
A real candidate for genocidal maniacs is the Islamic State.
Simply acknowledging that genocide remains a constant in some instances as the geo political and economic crisis become more severe in the coming years it is more likely the annihilation of other peoples will become a popular solution for closed groups.

I am rereading Kilcullen serendipity to reading this article. Both are excellently framed to broaden our concept of what new forms of conflict or those that had remained undefined and a background to some apparent insurgencies. But one aspect continues to be ignored wars of annihilation.
There remains no consensus on wars of annihilation recently I was stunned to learn less than 1/2 the worlds population know what the Holocaust is, and with the rise in antisemitism and the fact numerous world leaders deny the facts of the Holocaust to include the Ayatollah it should raise red flags as to what other courses might a population do for the sake of preserving a nation or a group.
President Erdogan is still in public denial about the Armenian Horrors, and the same explanations were incorporated by Hitler with themes like stabbed in the back, Armenians were referred to by Hitler as Uber Jews, and the annihilation of all the Armenians was deemed a national necessity for the preservation of the Turkish nation.
Obviously this is much abbreviated, but what I am trying to convey is that genocide as an option some demographic and other national or alternative government groups is in play.
A real candidate for genocidal maniacs is the Islamic State.
Simply acknowledging that genocide remains a constant in some instances as the geo political and economic crisis become more severe in the coming years it is more likely the annihilation of other peoples will become a popular solution for closed groups.

What's the cause of violent extremism in the US? What made the US think it was justified in invading Cuba, Panama or Grenada? Real politik? Habit? Careerism? Greed? Sociopaths in charge? "Violent extremism" is just a matter of scale. At one end you're a terrorist and at the other the SECDEF.

Why would anyone need to look for formulas to explain that people will a) try to overthrow corrupt governments if they can 2) fight foreign occupation and if they get into power have usually started to abuse power just as their enemies did.

The increased power of the state- in all but the smallest and poorest countries- has made successful insurgency highly unlikely so the rebels are left with terrorism in the usually futile hope that they will inspire a general revolt.

Interesting piece.

But the true root of violent extremism--or at least the overwhelming bulk of it today--is the Salafist interpretation of Islam. Pure and simple. And to effectively fight that violent extremism over the long run, and sustainably defeat it, the counter-ideological element of the war must focus on that interpretation and the Wahhabis and other Salafists who operationalize it.

Only Islam can do this. I would argue that Ayaan Hirsi Ali's "The Challenge of Dawa: Political Islam as Ideology and Movement and How to Counter It" presents a far more compelling, practicable, and real-world approach to this fight--with much greater prospects for eventual success--than the approach described in the concluding three paragraphs of the article.

Jeff, that pat answer has proven itself without much merit over the past 16 years. A calcified assumption that too many careers are built upon. Ultimately the answer has been in bin Laden's narrative from the beginning. Western policies toward the region are inappropriate and two decades past their expiration date. The governments of the region, like kings throughout history, would rather suppress an evolving population than listen and make the small reasonable adjustments necessary to facilitate a more natural stability, and lastly, of course the nations of the region need some sort of unifying structure to become competitive in a globalize world. To blame this on the ideology employed to shape and exploit the energy for revolution inherent to these types of conditions is hard to justify in the context of these types of conflicts over time and across cultures.

Really, Robert?

The notion that the global jihad is just some kind of Arab version of 1968, and that Salafist fanaticism is just a catalyst for an 'evolving population with natural, inherent and inevitable energy for revolution,' sounds like an editorial from Al Jazeera or a course precis from Berkeley.

Sure bin Laden pushed that narrative, and the propaganda machines of ISIS and other Salafists still do the same. But it's not because it's true. It's because the narrative plays well to uneducated Muslims, and it also erodes the cohesion of 'the Crusaders" by appealing to left-wing elements in the enemy (i.e., Western) camp. Blaming the West for Islamic fanaticism may play well among western liberals, but tell it to the Muslims--and the Christians--who are being slaughtered.

By the way: Does making "the small reasonable adjustments of an evolving population" include submitting to sharia law? Public beheadings and amputations? The slaughter of homosexuals? The theft of wives, daughters and young boys to use as chum for the sexual slavery markets, or as recruitment candy for young Islamic males who are still virgins in their early '20s?

The problem since 9/11 hasn't been identifying the roots of jihad as Salafist fanaticism. The problem has been the west's political and religious correctness, and it's callow and foolish refusal to accept the reality that stares it in the face.

When the Old Cold War ended, and the U.S./the West "won," the U.S./the West set out to try to capitalize on and consolidate the potential gains that it might realize therefrom.

"The successor to a doctrine of containment must be a strategy of enlargement -- enlargement of the world's free community of market democracies."

https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/lakedoc.html

Thus, in the eyes of various states, societies and civilizations (and/or the ambitious/the patriots/the leadership/the privileged and/or the protected individuals ensconced therein), this such threat simply replaced the similar treat that had been posed by the likewise "expansionist" Soviets/communists in the Old Cold War.

(In both such instances, the threat relates to the "expansionist" great nation entities' determination to transform the outlying states, societies and civilizations of the world more along alien and profane political, economic, social and/or value lines. Thus, along Soviet/communist such lines in the Old Cold War, and along modern western such lines today.)

It is against this backdrop, I suggest, that we might:

a. Consider each and every one of the questions/the suggestions/the assertions that you make above. And, also,

b. The -- global it would seem -- "opposition to unwanted transformation" resistance movements that we appear to be witnessing; today much as we did yesterday.

(Which, as in the Old Cold War and versus the "expansionist" Soviets/communists back then, likewise today and versus the U.S./the West now, includes both great nations and small and both state and non-state actors -- who sometimes work independently and who sometimes work together:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/04/24/russia-is-s...)

Bottom Line Question:

In such a "conflict environment" as I have described above, one in which "expansionist great nation entities seeks to transform the Rest of the World more along often alien, profane and/or otherwise unwanted political, economic, social and value lines and (b) the Rest of the World works to prevent this from happening;

In such a conflict environment as this, is it accurate to identify the roots of jihad/resistance (that of the people of the Greater Middle East and/or elsewhere) as, for example, "Salafist" -- and/or as some other form of "fanaticism?"

If so, then -- in the similar conflict environment of our previous age (to wit: the Old Cold War) -- would it likewise have been accurate to identify the roots of jihad/resistance (to communism back then) in a similar fashion, to wit: as a form of "fanaticism?

This rather than, for example in both such instances (the Old Cold War and again today), simply seeing these as a form of "resistance?"

(In both such instances, to the common threat of unwanted transformation more along alien and profane political, economic, social and/or value lines?)

1. That the "Old Cold War" ended is a western notion. Russia never thought the cold war was over, nor does it today.

2. If you want to claim moral or any other kind of equivalence between the actions of the West and those of the Muslim fanatics since, say, the 1972 Munich attack, then go ahead. I'm sure there are those in the Salafist camp who will be delighted to know they have congruent-thinkers among their Crusader enemies. Can't say, though, that I know anyone else who sees that equivalence.

3. Were the Cold War and jihad both forms of "resistance"? Nah. Neither one. The Cold War was geopolitical. The global jihad is religious war.

1. That the "Old Cold War" ended would not seem to be "a western notion." The Soviet Union no longer exists and, thus, is no longer in expansionist mode and, accordingly, no longer seeks to transform the outlying states and societies of the world more along often alien, profane and/or otherwise unwanted (in this case Soviet/communist) political, economic, social and value lines. Rather today what we appear to be be viewing is a New/Reverse Cold War, one in which the U.S./the West has assumed this expansionist role -- in our case, attempting to transform the Rest of the World more along often alien, profane and/or otherwise unwanted (in this case modern western) political, economic, social and value lines. (In this regard, see my first linked item above.)

2. Thus, the "equivalency" that I seek to show is that which exists in, shall we say, the "conflict environments" of these Old and New/Reverse Cold War periods; conflict environments which, in both instances, appear to find both great nations and small and both state and non-state Rest of the World actors working to prevent these alien and profane -- and/or otherwise unwanted -- transformations from happening/from being realized. (In this regard, see my second linked item above.)

3. Thus to understand how, in both such conflict environments that I describe above (in both the Old and the New/Reverse Cold Wars), a jihad/a religious war might be considered simply as a form/a means of resistance -- to either, or indeed both, of the unwanted transformation attempts I have noted. Thus:

a. As a form/means of resistance to unwanted transformation more along Soviet/communist political, economic, social and value lines in the Old Cold War. And

b. As a form/means of resistance to unwanted transformation more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines today.

In this latter regard, to note that -- re: Russia today -- now we find even Putin attempting to wrap himself, and his "resisting unwanted transformation" activities, more in religious cloth; in this case, that of the Russian Orthodox Church:

"Thanks to a close alliance between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Kremlin, religion has proved a particularly powerful tool in former Soviet lands like Moldova, where senior priests loyal to the Moscow church hierarchy have campaigned tirelessly to block their country’s integration with the West."

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/14/world/europe/russia-orthodox-church.html

You're drinking the koolaid. Listen to the people, not the radicalized spin of those seeking to exploit them. And the three core aspects of AQ's narrative are absolutely true. This is primarily about national governments of the region being overly reliant on external protection and acting with impunity toward their own people. Equally, Western foreign policies overly shaped by the TTPs of colonialism and shaped for a Cold War that is long over.

We're chasing symptoms and making the problems we are ignoring worse in the process.

The author portrays “today’s wars” as somehow worse, because they displace “more” people and the world becomes “less controlled” and “less predictable”. There should be evidence provided to justify the claim that contemporary conflict is both different and worse than historical conflict.

Overall, the author attempts to attribute “violent extremism” to environmental or material factors. Basically, he is on the nurture side of the nature v. nurture debate, and believes that the human biases lending themselves to “violent extremism” are cognitive rather than emotional. I will refer back to Paul M. Kennedy’s works “Rise and Fall of the Great Powers” and “Preparing for the Twenty-First Century”, wherein Kennedy identifies culture as the prime mover of a country’s relative success or failure, in terms of its prosperity, security and freedom.

For instance, corruption is neither imposed in a top-down manner, nor due to a referendum, however, there is a degree of collective choice that results from the decisions of individuals at all levels to behave in a corrupt manner. It is not merely a matter of providing a society with the right organization: the busybody who combats others’ littering or parking illegally is as important as the person who investigates millions embezzled from a government contract.

However, the author interestingly points out the length of time that it takes for a failed or failing state to re-establish itself: at least one generation or more than twenty-five years. Yet as regards “violent extremism”, whatever that term means, it is becoming rampant in Western countries which are stable, peaceful, prosperous and secure, with minimum of corruption.

It is also worthy to note that adjusted for inflation, the U.S. has poured as more money into aiding/developing Afghanistan than it did on the postwar Marshall Plan.

When was the last time that a major war was fought on Latin American soil? It will be approaching two centuries soon enough, and yet compare Sao Paulo with Frankfurt, or Mexico City with Tokyo. As for Iran, the people cut off their nose to spite their face in 1979, and those of its children that the revolution ate blame the CIA for both the Shah and Khomeini, while consoling themselves with their ill-gotten funds in wealthy Western countries. The fact that Persian Iranians in the West live in the best neighborhoods and Kurdish Iranians live on the wrong side of the tracks shows how much the Persian diaspora truly cares.

The fact is that hundreds of millions of “Arabs”, Africans and South Asians are surplus population. They have no purchasing power as a market, skills with which to contribute, or seemingly any interest in creating wealth. Quite frankly, in much of Africa, tying a few branches together as a lean-to creates wealth. They jostle with one another for rents from extractive industries and throw themselves on the welfare states of the West when their family is unable to win the rent-seeking competition. The best and brightest either live a cushy lifestyle or are adopted by the West by way of higher education. They are angry. They want someone to blame. In Libya, where with Norwegian institutions each Libyan could be relatively wealthy, free and secure, the Libyans are busy killing one another and fighting over those rents still flowing.

Just as in Venezuela, societies can choose to fail.

Azor: Above you said:

"I will refer back to Paul M. Kennedy’s works “Rise and Fall of the Great Powers” and “Preparing for the Twenty-First Century”, wherein Kennedy identifies culture as the prime mover of a country’s relative success or failure, in terms of its prosperity, security and freedom.

Thus, could we say that:

a. The root cause of violent extremism today is not having one's state and/or society organized, ordered and oriented more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines? And that, accordingly,

b. The correction for this ailment is to transform such "outlying" states and societies more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines?

(This being the "cultural cure" that is, thus, logically required in these such instances?)

Or, based on your notation that violent extremism/rebellion is also becoming more prevalent in Western countries today, herein are you suggesting that:

a. Now even Western culture has been found to be "wanting" and, thus, is also under attack today? And that, accordingly,

b. Now even Western citizens are coming forward to address same; this, via not only non-violent means, such as the Brexit and the election of President Trump, but via violent means now also?

Thus, to ask if the "universal" problem we might be witnessing now, in a nut-shell, is:

a. An entire world that has been told that it is "culturally deficient" and that, accordingly, must change. And, thus,

b. An entire world which is "universally" acting out to try to protect and preserve its/their individual beliefs, cultures, identities, ways of life, etc.? This,

c. In the face of efforts being made by entities (for example, by the global elite/by the "Davos Men*") to "homogenize" and/or otherwise alter same?

(* Davos Man: Samuel P. Huntington is credited with inventing the phrase "Davos Man," referring to global elites who "have little need for national loyalty, view national boundaries as obstacles that thankfully are vanishing, and see national governments as residues from the past -- whose only useful function is to facilitate the elite's global operations". The phrase refers to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where leaders of the global economy meet.)

Thus:

a. Entities attempting to institute/impose new and unwanted ways of life and related cultures on others and, in doing so,

b. Create instability and rebellion (and/or the clear potential for same) -- virtually everywhere in the world -- and now even in the West; this,

c. As virtually all states, societies, civilizations and cultures -- and, specifically, all the determined individuals therein (even those in the West now?) -- act to try to prevent these such unwanted changes from occurring? This,

d. Via whatever strategies, and via whatever ways, means and methods, are available to them?

To Bill C.,

RE:

a1-b1) On the contrary, I did not claim that adopting Western culture was the answer. I did, however, say that a “successful” structure cannot compensate for an “unsuccessful” culture.

a2-b2) Much of the success of Western culture has been its diversity and competition, within and among nation-states. Most of the world is familiar only with anarchy and empire. The rise of Muslim supremacism among the Arabs was an outgrowth of the failures of empire, as represented by Turkey, as well as of Arab nation-state construction in the wars with Israel. The European Union has exceeded its mandate and sought to bring Europe under central authority and power, something that the Papacy and Holy Roman Empire failed to do despite centuries of trying. The EU and the “Progressive” ideology of its proponents is in fact a conformist and monolithic anathema to Western culture from a historical perspective, in a way that the EFTA and NATO are not.

The same could be said of the effective union between the U.S. and Mexico desired by the Democratic Party. Mexico has not had two world wars fought on its soil for almost a decade, nor has it had ten percent of its best and brightest mass murdered by a Communist tyrant, nor has it been held back by almost half a century of foreign occupation and expropriation. It truly has no excuses for its state of development, and any American interference would be far less than nearly all Western countries have faced. A merger between the United States and Mexico, driven by an open border and migratory flows, would only make the U.S. less successful.

a3-c3) There is no evidence of a world “acting out”. However, the non-Western world wants all of the tangible or material advantages of the West, without having to acknowledge the intangible or cultural developments that led to them. If a loser in society has the opportunity to become a winner without having to change his or her behavior, that person will leap at the chance. As for “Davos Man”, that creature is anti-Western. That creature belongs in Brazil, where once “you have yours”, you can seal yourself off and sit on your gains behind barbed wire, broken glass and electric fencing.

a4-d4) I don’t follow you here. There is no coordinated global “resistance” to Western “imperialism”. Within the West, there is political resistance to what many consider the erosion of the nation-state and the assumption of power by a supra-national elite. Muslim supremacism is another issue altogether, and the West must face that fact that it is bringing the “non-West” into the West. Were the West truly imposing itself on non-Westerners, it would be forcibly assimilating refugees and migrants, not allowing them to form separate communities.