How to Avoid the Occurence of Spirals of Violence through PP: Communication, Capacity-Building, Constructive Sanctioning and Self-Awareness
Thorsten Koch, MA, PgDip
December 6, 2018
Accountability, training and discipline of security personnel must be strengthened on all different levels to bring about a shift from excessive policing to a spirit of Soft Anti-Terrorism, when it comes to preventive (first-level) and preventative (i.e. progressed) countering of violent extremism. Everyone in society must work towards making a lasting and constant establishment non-violence and peace the effective gist of efforts to apply the provisions of legal codes, i.e. the respective national constitutions and supra-national regimes. This can be achieved via the concept of Perpetual Placidity (PP, the sphere and means of lasting peace). This also entails that those manifestly terrorist should be deported into countries where influencing, or soft anti-terorism in general, is more promising to bear positive effects. PP, productive influencing operations and rehabilitational isolation of perpetrators instead of other forms of eliminations and instead of classical coercive reinforcement must be advocated sub-nationally, nationally and internationally.
In the realm of Anti-Terrorism, the consequences of mistakes, mishaps and wrong decisions, are most dire. However, there is room for improvement, and new rules should take foothold. These rules shall ensure Perpetual Placidity (PP), i.e. efforts as well as the achievable goal of lasting social peace. The concept behind this this text, PP, can help bring about much-needed balancing within societies as well as a new international political balance through negociations and standardization of national laws and sets of rules pertaining to the profession of Security and Policing.
How a tangible improvement of individual and group behavior can come about in the field of Anti-Terrrism is at the heart of this policy proposal. How can responsibilition through education, training, communication and responsible behavior be made to lead to societies of Perpetual Placidity (PP), thus, how to apply the concept of PP to the current state of affairs in Anti-Terrorism? How to ensure the non-excessive application of executive powers in Western countries? How to stop, or rather minimize, the proliferation of cases of individual and group terrorism by ensuring that terrorism be contained, even among communities known to promote or resort to violence, without resorting to ultimate force by state institutions. How to avoid the unwarranted provocation of possible perpetrators? How to lessen the burdens and negative consequences of incarceration for society with regard to the latter group by promoting non-violenct social communication and dialog? How to ensure accountability and self-respect of security officials?
To answer the above questions one by one, anti-terrorism must, first and foremost, be one of constant and consistent, peace-minded prevention. One primary goal of the concept of Perpetual Placidity (PP) must be to establish how on state, regional and local level, training, discipline and psychological counseling of security personnel can be strengthened. Lasting placidity, peace, integration and non-violence must be emphasized as the gist of constitutional previsions and continually be present in the minds of all those making up and forming society, be it citizens, state executives or policy-makers. Instead of a tendency of thinking in terms of anti-riot policing or elimination, we must reach a state (and, as social actors, a quasi-collective state of mind) where peaceful, constructive measures and capacity-building are of the order. It should, in this respect, also be established how individuals above a certain threshold can be effectively isolated. This complex does not exclude the question of deportation and must be one of the goals of national and international politics.
Responsibility and Non-Violent Communication: PP Leading to a New Standard
Excessive force by security personnel may all cause a breakout of irrational, open violence against the state and society. This is why similar benchmarks pertaining to the tendency to violence must be applied to state authorities and private-industry officers factually holding executive powers. Nota bene, similar (however not identical) benchmarks must be applied to state authorities engaged in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism, and even decision-makers, as to the individuals the security officials deal with. Preventive, and to some degree preventative, Anti-Terrorism should in no case be considered to be an armed war but efforts to bring about Perpetual Placidity (PP), i.e. appeased societies including those who will have used to work in fields of physical coersion and whose experience can be used to develop a new standard of policing.
To phrase this differently, anti-revolutionary tasking, i.e. matters of national security and the protection of the constitution, directed against virally anti-constitutional group activities, is not a field of battle as such, or on the outset. Such thinking, as it would, will necessarily lead, in a given state, to a number, or worst, a bundle of instances of radicalization which might ultimately be uncontainable, despite working towards the contrary goals. In other words, an overreliance on excessive measures of securitization within a respective country will result in spirals of violence of a diverse set of gravity. Instead of coercion, peaceful communication must be the strategy of choice and means of non-physical, non-violent addressing must become the new standard.
Integration as a Core Pillar of PP: Mercifulness and Decisiveness
It goes without saying that individuals and groups provenly and enduringly advocating or applying physical violence must be considered terrorist. Terrorists are un-civilized and anti-religious. Anti-terrorist personnel, then, should be characterized by the opposing traits. In reality, this is not always the case. Anti-terrorist personnel, as well as political decision-makers must, on their part, limit the popping-up and mushrooming of terrorists by acting cautiously and strictly responsibly, by constantly and truly trying to guarantee non-violence instead of eliminating, e.g. through emprisonment, individuals below a certain threshold.
Those individuals above that threshold must be dealt with decisively without resorting to ultimate and irreversible measures, of which the secondary effects, such as grief and societal gaps, are not to be under-estimated, and, as indicated above, lead to spirals of violence, from inner grief to terrorism. Gief is often easier to be avoided and gaps are often easier not to occur, or to be avoided, via integration of social actors and the attainment of ethical, societal productivity.
Where open violence is manifestly prepared, promoted or executed, the peaceful influencing of vulnerable individuals, the isolation or deportation of extremist or physically radical individuals is to be favored. For there have been many instances of prison incarceration where there is no chance of lasting rehabilitation, deportation of convicted or proven perpetrators must be seriously considered. For this to happen, Perpetual Placidity (PP) must be advocated on the international level and can in the long run, beyond state borders, lead, in time, to supra-national regimes of legalism, non-radicalization and non-confrontation.
Accountability within Country Security Apparatuses
An absence of illegitimate, hence illicit force within the Western states must come about via a high degree of preservation of the integrity of the peace-loving individual and sanctioning of state and private-industry groups in the security sector tasked with Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism. It goes without saying that there is a difference between perpretrators and executives. However, only if excess is avoided as much as possible on all levels, even within our security apparatuses, can we ensure social peace. This goes for officials in functions of constitutional protection on cases where the level of violence is not yet reached. Otherwise, the risk of provoking so-called targets and becoming responsible for open violence must be considered high.
Among Anti-Terrorism instances, transparency and inner accountability must be reinforced. Democratic rules must apply for state authorities in all areas of policy, especially in Anti-Terrorism. This goes for all those holding executive powers, officials and officers holding executive competences. While we must acknowlede that there is need to be resolved in the military and anti-riot environment, such resolve can backfire in the field of Anti-Extremism and lead to open violence, at worse. This is valid for Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) but, as one must emphasize, also for Countering Terrorism, or Violent Extremism (CVE).
To give an example of how new rules can take foothold, in order to circumvent limiting rights lastingly, e.g. by way of incarceration and deportation (which are judicially difficult to bring about or uphold), in the first place, anti-terrorist officials are to avoid any unnecesary provocation and limit the employment of so-called agents provocateurs who themselves are, obviously, likely to lean towards violence. Instead, we must appeal to responsibility, both emotionally-affectively (in a positive sense) as well as consciously, through incentives and, socially productive, integration.
Towards more Self-Respect of Security Officials
In order to improve professional conduct and the chances of rising on the professional ladder, individuals holding executive powers must stress self-respect, counter excessive pride and strictly adhere to standard of ethics. For this to come about, we must confront and shake off the past of our individual histories, from infancy to adult life: family history as well as biographic history. This requires personal efforts, training and, in some events, counseling. Only stable personalities with a high level of personal responsibility and perceived and tangible satisfaction in terms of incentives, working in Anti-Terrorism, are to take life-or-death decisions and decisions bearing possibly major consequences. Such incentives are not to be attributed where coersion is favored by those officials as first choice, as this would render impossible the prevention of terrorism in a society facing new technical and other challenges, and run against one of the principles of Perpetual Placidity (PP): avoiding, where possible, physical coercion.
Perpetual Placidity (PP) as a New Way of Soft-Anti-Terrorism
Only in a peace-minded state of mind can executives in preventive and preventative (s.a.) Anti-Terrorism carry on or start anew in a peace-loving way. Integrity and ethical behavior of security personnel and high-level decision-makers is paramount. There is need of discipline and legalism among our security apparatuses. State and private-industry personnel engaged in Anti-Terrorism must do the utmost to try and act in an ethically grounded, non-violent manner and to see their jobs with fresh spectacles and in a new perspective.
Perpetual Placidity (PP) or, very simply, the ensuring and ensurance of constant peace, then, also goes for the aspect of self-respect, awarding and sanctioning of security officials. In their case, it must be characterized by the utmost respect for the, per se, non-violent individual, strange as that may sound, and legal punishment of all (sic) those violent, i.e. sanctioning of manifest tendencies of inner radicalization. Above all, it must be characterized by respect for the prime articles and amendments of Western constitutions, some of which need to be amended. Only through this can the concept and task of Anti-Terrorism itself be fundamentally legalist and ethical. This requires self-awareness, and the identification of biases against the immanent and ideal of Perpetual Placidity (PP) in society, in academy trainig as well as on the job.
Behavior of target individuals and groups must come about by favoring peaceful influencing and Perpetual Placidity (PP) in the prevention and in countering violent extremism. Excessive measures lead to detrimental effects and up to secondary consequences not to be under-estimated, for officials and officers in Anti-Terrorism as well as for the families and groups aligned to extremists of different degrees of violence. Similar, though not identical, indicators of non-responsibility must be applied to persons on all sides of the fences, despite this sounding revolutionary, and non-adherence must least up to different levels of sanctions. The application of the concept of Perpetual Placidity can, overall, only be reinforced by rewards, constructive sanctioning, by way of education and highly responsible supervision, and, last not least, by self-awareness.
* Perpetual Placidity (PP) is a term first coined by the author of this text, Thorsten Koch, MA, PgDip towards the end of 2018, in the realm of security, to comprise peaceful influencing within society via communication and a mindset of constructiveness and constructive sanctioning, of education, as well as of self-awareness.