I was watching another TED talk yesterday by Jason McCue titled Terrorism is a failed brand. McCue is an attorney by trade, who has found a rather distinctive niche litigating against terrorists. Certainly a noble job and not at all one I would want to try. I hope he has a great home security system and a solid kidnap and ransom insurance policy.
This Ted talk is one of the longer, 20 minute presentations, but well worth the time. McCue outlines ways to defeat terrorism by taking away their power to influence. By doing so, they won’t be supported financially or ideologically and will have trouble recruiting. He is a rather compelling speaker with a great approach to his ideas. Throughout his talk he provides a few case studies where such approaches have led to success and even draws a parallel between terrorism and commercial branding – proposing that a strong marketing campaign against terrorism be implemented. I think he makes a great argument for it overall. I do, however, have some difficulties accepting this as an approach for all forms of terrorism. It seems his approach would work well against IRA-style terrorism, where the collateral damage is directly impacting the ones that the cause purports to defend and support. In fact, the greatest part of McCue’s experience lends itself to IRA litigation. On the other hand, there is al-Qaeda, who I don’t think would be affected as much by this type of tactic. We might be able to strike against some of their financial backing and perhaps some of their recruitment, but I don’t see where we will strike much sympathy within the ranks of al-Qaeda from the death, destruction, and dismemberment caused by their suicide bombers and other attacks – which is a tactic McCue identified as a success against the IRA.
While McCue doesn’t identify his tactics as the only solution, I would certainly say that it would not be, especially against al-Qaeda type entities. I believe strongly that military actions against their leaders and training camps must certainly continue, as should political and legal pressures against their supporters – be they nations or sponsor terrorism or investors funding these acts, as well as counter terrorism and intelligence operations. It is only with a multi-pronged approach that we will win against terrorism. Note, however, that I say ‘win’, not ‘defeat’. I don’t think terrorists, whatever ilk they may be of, will ever be truly defeated. We can’t stop people from having opinions, nor would we want to. The problem is when those opinions go to an extreme of causing harm upon others to coerce a population.