Monday, July 25, 2011

Conservatie extremism

Sometime towards the end of the Cold War, the term "narco-terrorist" was coined to link the drug cartels with terrorists (Marxist/Lennist groups lost a major sponsor when the Soviet Union fell). Somewhere between the Pam Am 103 bombing and 9/11, we started to hear of radicalized Islamists who were Muslims with a tendency to commit violent acts against the West.

Labels make it easier to identify groups with similar behaviors and to direct intelligence activities. The shortfall is when you are looking for "radicalized Islamists" you tend to overlook activities that do not fit into that label. To further exacerbate this weakness, funding is often tied to the label so activities that aren't related to say "radicalized Islamists" don't get funded.

Now there already is a new term, conservative extremists which is different (according to the Financial TImes) from radical right-wing terrorism. Radical right-wing terrorism is primarily a political ideology represented by groups such as neo-Nazis. Conservative extremists are motivated by theology (conservative Christianity) as well as political ideology (pro-Israel). The combination of religious and political ideology sets this new groups to be diametrically opposed to Islam.

"Conservative extremism" explains why Breivik is from a Scandinavian country. According to the Financial Times article (linked at the bottom), "In addition to Norway’s Progress party – of which Mr Breivik was a member – the anti-immigrant Danish Peoples’ party, the rehabilitated neo-Nazi Sweden Democrats, the True Finns, Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom in the Netherlands and France’s National Front have become electoral forces in recent years.
Norway and the Nordic countries have in the past had relatively large neo-Nazi movements. While the Sweden Democrats have been able to enter national politics, most other groups have faded over time."

Breivik wrote a 1,500 page manifesto which borrows heavily from Ted Kaczynski's manifesto (the Unabomber). He seems to be trying to link his motives to other groups yet most of the conservative Scandinavian groups have disavowed him.

Right wing violence is nothing new to Europe but Scandinavia has managed to keep activities primarily as political. Breivik may come to symbolize the current generation that are not satisfied with projected means of resolution, they want their iPad 2 now! Whatever his political leanings, it is obvious that Breivik felt the political route was too long and cumbersome and turned to the more expedient route of violence.

In one sense, he was correct. We may never have heard of political activist Breivik outside of Norway. The whole world has heard of Breivik the terrorist.

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