Fighting Terrorism Without Fighting

If this article at The Diplomat is to be credited, the way the Chinese plan to reconcile their non-interventionist policies without their pledge to fight terrorism doesn’t actually involve any fighting:

A recent Xinhua piece outlined China’s vision for how to fight terrorism in Africa, and it had nothing to do with military operations against groups like Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, and al-Mourabitoun (which claimed responsibility for the November 20 hotel attack in Mali). Instead the piece focused on supporting the affected states to fight their own battles against extremists, by providing “technological aid and intelligence sharing.” Xinhua also argued that, by arming rebels around the world, the West has made terrorist groups stronger, rather than weakening them.

In this light, China sees its economic outreach to Africa (and the Middle East) as steps forward in the fight against terrorism – ways to tackle terrorism at the root by eliminating poverty and providing employment for those who might otherwise be drawn to extremist groups.

Of course, China’s understanding of the “root causes” of terrorism can be called into question based on its actions in Xinjiang province, where heavy-handed security measures may actually be backfiring and increasing terrorist activity. China seems to cling to the belief that economic development can cure all ills, whether in Xinjiang, Mali, or Afghanistan — despite evidence to the contrary in China’s own far-western province. Still, Western military efforts haven’t proved much more successful either.

Maslow’s hammer. It explains both our eagerness to use military force and China’s reluctance.

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