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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2613

Dr.Imtiaz Ahmed on "Security in the age of Globalization"

The Institute of Security Studies, Sri Lanka (INSSSL) held its second successful ‘Security Salon’ on Friday, 28th October 2016 at the Ministry of Defence. Secretary, Defence, Eng. Karunasena Hettiarachchi Chaired the discussion.

Director General INSSSL, Asanga Abeyagoonesekera delivered the opening remarks highlighting the task of INSSSL as a national security think tank that was established with a vision to improve policy and decision making through high quality research and analysis with excellence.

He emphasized its Mission as to continuously support the Ministry of Defence in the formulation and execution of strategic policies and plans for a safe, secure and sovereign nation with territorial integrity. He also introduced the Security Salon to new participants as a forum created to discuss timely and relevant topics of interest to national, regional and international security and is a space for intellectual debate and discussion.

Mr. Abeyagoonesekera then invited the Guest Speaker Dr. Imtiaz Ahmed who is presently the Executive Director of the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies (RCSS), Colombo to deliver his address on “Security in the age of Globalisation”

Dr. Ahmed spoke on a timely topic that is of much interest to all states and non-state actors in current geo-politics. He was keen to emphasize that the concept of security at present holds a new and different meaning while investigating what has changed and generated so much interest in recent years.

In this discussion, he pointed out one phenomenon that immediately comes to the fore as that of violent extremism and it generates interest and concern whether it be in London, Karachi or Tokyo and for the first time the same concept is discussed all over the world. Therefore as the speaker notes, this appears to be the first time that an issue has implications globally.

He went on to say that violent extremism was nothing new categorising it into two types: one orchestrated by the state for e.g. Nazi Germany and that of non-state actors such as the LTTE who went to the extent of using suicide terrorism but as he sees, in both of these reason and rationality have played a role. However, in the present wave of violent extremism he sums up the violence as not ‘irrational’ nor ‘anti-rational’ but simply beyond a reason.

Dr. Ahmed posed some interesting figures relating to the number of deaths in a given year showing that although the number resulting from terrorist activity seems negligible compared to deaths due to other reasons, humans now suffer from fear and overreaction mainly due to the fact that states have not been able to handle this post-rational terrorism as he calls it. This state of overreaction and nervousness he says has led to increased surveillance and invasion of privacy. Here he drew parallel with George Orwell’s writings of a new dystopia.

As regards the question of addressing this problem, Dr. Ahmed provided the “four I’s” as a solution. Incarcération the need for a serious Intelligence intervention, as this violence and technology surpasses those of the 19th and 20th centuries, Intellectual intervention to investigate the workings of the mind of a terrorist or militant and Institutional investment which needs to be done as a means of prevention. He concluded by stating that it is important to keep in mind that humans are all not the same, quoting the Philosopher Aristotle who said humans were homo politicus (political beings) where each and every person has inherent political rights which are non-negotiable and if violated there would be conflict.

Quoting Karl Marx he said human beings were homo economicus (economic beings) where everyone has a right to profit, prosperity and productivity which if denied would result in conflict. He added that humans also needed culture and technology but with serious repercussions if denied to certain groups. Lastly, as psychological beings he believes that all minds can be brought to a common platform through education ending with the quote “War begins in the minds of men and it’s in the minds of men that structures of peace have to be built”.

This was followed by an animated and interesting discussion. There was a comment from a humanitarian point of view that although numbers related to death by extremism might be small in comparison to others, there is much suffering as can be seen in Syria or Afghanistan.

A point that was disagreed on was about the militants not having access to education as was evident in the recent terror attacks in Dhaka where most of the attackers were Western educated youth whilst the concluding remarks on a comprehensive response which includes justice and equity were commended.

Another important comment was that religious extremism would not be contained until the world community can solve the issues in Kashmir and Palestine as well as other direct and indirect attacks against Islam. “Division creates poverty, union creates wealth” was quoted to say that a nation or region if united, can defeat forces working against them.

Another interesting point of view was that violent extremism was not beyond reason as stated but just beyond the reason of those looking to understand or address it. As such there is a reason and rationale behind these acts and it is important to find a way to mitigate it being proactive rather than being eternally reactive. It was agreed that prevention of a violent mindset by way of a holistic education with different responses for different groups was imperative.

- Asian Tribune -

Dr.Imtiaz Ahmed on "Security in the age of Globalization"
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