: Bali bombing
Tools against terrorism
Mark Raper SJ AM
Edited version of op-ed published on Jesuit
5 October 2005
When we see evil we must name it. The bombing at Jimbaran and Kuta
beaches in Bali is evil. It is ugly, brutal, criminal. It derives
from a coldly calculating ideology, from well-resourced persons
without conscience or scruple. No religious belief can justify such
actions. Violence challenges religious people, including Christians
who are called to be peace makers, not just peace lovers, to combat
violence and to strengthen peace.
This new Bali bombing shocks us. Again we come to that place of
sadness. It shows that we are in a depressing, disappointing situation
of continuing violence. We feel it as an attack on Australians,
timed so near the anniversary of the Bali bombs that deeply wounded,
yet united Australians. We mourn the dead and feel compassion for
their families. How can Australia and Australians also now channel
our outrage and respond in strength?
Let us not ignore that it is first an attack on Indonesia. Apparently
Indonesians attacked Indonesians. Imagine how that feels. Can we
act strongly, yet in so doing not cut but rather build our solidarity
with Indonesian people?
From my experiences in places such as Rwanda, Cambodia and Bosnia,
I distrust an analysis that simplistically blames conflict on differences
in ethnicity, religion or nationality. Conflicts are fuelled by
people of malice who exploit others in order to gain or hold on
to power. Yet violence unleashes a whirlwind. Violence fuels violence
in an escalating cycle. How can the cycles of violence be cut without
widening into war?
When your only tool is a hammer, you tend to see every problem
as a nail. We need the right tools. May I suggest these tools will
include renewed cooperation in policing, strengthening international
law and judicial systems, and building networks of communication
across ideological divisions.
Perpetrators of criminal actions should be pursued and judged by
the forces of law. Police are more constrained, controlled, and
circumscribed by law than are armies or the violence of war. The
rule of law is a constructive alternative to destructive war.
Clearly we are dealing with international, global networks, therefore
international cooperation in policing is required. I applaud the
steps taken by the Australian Federal Police in cooperation with
the Indonesian police.
Further, these are crimes against humanity, therefore we should
seek to strengthen judicial systems, especially international courts.
How can these persons and networks be de-fanged and defeated? Jemaah
Islamiah and Al-Qaeda are networks rather than organisations, and
should also be countered early through new networks of communication
and dialogue. There are Islamic fundamentalists who do not have
a commitment to violence, and such people are most able to speak
with those committed to violence. Step by step, such new channels
of communication should be developed at the levels of community
groups, institutions and governments. Not being a large power, Australia
and Australians should be in a position to engage in diplomatic
initiatives of dialogue that foster peace.
Fortunately, US President George Bush and the Coalition of the
Willing are ceasing to use the term “war on terror”,
possibly because they are seen as losing the Iraq war, and do not
want other security initiatives to be associated with that perception
of failure. War inflicts horrific violence on civilians, and widens
rather than reduces the cycle of violence. War polarises. Nothing
is more undemocratic than war. Military power is not the only form
of power. Nor is it the most desirable, or even the easiest way
to influence others. Initiatives that have the agreement of a number
of nations, eg. through the United Nations, and thus legitimacy
in international law, are more likely to achieve peace than initiatives
imposed by a sole power.
To combat violence and to strengthen peace, Australia should work
to strengthen government-to-government cooperation in policing.
Australia should strengthen its commitment to international law
and to the International Court. Australians should trengthen their
links with other people across borders of nation, ethnicity, language
Mark Raper SJ AM, now Provincial of the Australian Jesuits, worked
for twenty years with refugees, serving as International Director
of Jesuit Refugee Service from 1990 to 2000. In this role he had
frequent first hand experience of conflict and its results in countries
such as Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Angola, Sri Lanka, El Salvador.
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