Monday, January 17, 2005

ah, the BA

have thoroughly recovered from my hissy-fit of thursday. no more snow since then, though the temperatures have dropped to a perilously low -10C. still, a lot better than the -20s we were getting last winter, so i'm not complaining too much. if this keeps up, winter will be relatively less terrible, which would be nice -- my last winter here in chicago behaving itself.

having to start work on the BA this weekend, so been doing some reading up about ASEAN's role and how it changes in response to stimuli. all well and good, but that speaks more to the second half of my paper. so before i forget it, here's the layout of the argument for the first half of the BA. the BA has two parts: (a) there's a threat of cross-border/international terrorism in SEA, and the member states of SEA decide that ASEAN is the best institution for dealing with it; and (b) ASEAN deals with the problem of terrorism by adapting its organisation in terms of control and centralisation; scope; and flexibility.

(a) the problem with 'new' terrorism in the region is that it is cross-border. as Goh Chok Tong, our current Senior Minister, said in his speech to the Council on Foreign Relations last year, the problem of terror is changing. the original internal terrorists, like the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, are no longer the problem. the new Islamicist terrorists want to create an Islamic state in SEA encompassing M'sia, Indon, Singapore, and probably a bunch of our other ASEAN neighbours, at any cost. hence, the creation of JI, which coordinates the actions of various terror cells within different nations. these terrorists have links to al-qaeda and afghanistan (here's where Mamdani's book, Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror comes back to haunt me: the training camps in Afghanistan set up to fight the Bear in Afghanistan wound up training far more than just guerilla fighters for the Afghan war. almost all militant Islamic terrorists since then can trace their roots back to training camps in Afghan circa the 1970s.) thus are trained in the methods of creating terror and urban warfare etc etc. and because of their new global ideology -the creation of an international Islamic state, a Caliphate- they cannot be deterred by conventional means.

so here's the problem: (i) they can't really be deterred by fear of death etc; (ii) they are well-organised; (iii) their organisation reaches across national borders; and (iv) the states of SEA are all at risk for various reasons, by the fact that at least a significantly large chunk of their populations are muslim, or are disliked by the Islamic terrorists because they see these nations are obstructing the creation of a Caliphate in SEA. (i'm thinking of Singapore at this point; we have a 15% muslim population.)

why choose ASEAN? because (a) the organisation of the terrorists requires that information-gathering be centralised and organised to give a clear picture of what is going on not just within national borders but in the region, since that is the target; (b) the big ASEAN nations have incentive to cooperate -Indon, M'sia, the Philippines, Singapore- because the threat is to them; (c) ASEAN is there -building new institutions is expensive, time-consuming, and you lose all the advantages of the old one, advantages that come with iteration of cooperation (i have them listed somewhere); adapting existing institutions to accomplish new functions (like NATO) is far cheaper and potentially more efficient.

so now i need to go look up more about terrorism and the Jemaah Islamiyah in SEA, and Start Writing...


At 5:03 PM, January 17, 2005, Blogger Readymade said...

Have you looked up Sidney Jones yet?

ICG has also some well-researched papers on JI. Can't remember if they're available online though. Happy hunting!

At 10:30 AM, January 18, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you don't already have the White Paper on JI, you should have a look at it. I think this was the best official source you can get about the JI.

- Elaine

At 1:47 PM, January 18, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think your thesis is quite fascinating. I might end up doing a short paper on terrorism also but I haven't decided yet.

Anyway, I wrote this really short paper on whether terrorism is the greatest threat that Singapore's foreign policy makers have faced and I think that it might have some relevant links for your paper. Think being the operative word. So if you want it, just let me know and I'll email it over.

All the best! :)

At 8:45 AM, January 19, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoops, just realised I didn't leave my name on my comment about sending you my paper if you want it.

It's Evan.

- Evan

At 12:58 PM, January 19, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You lucky thing! Royston Tan is visiting Chicago and you get to see all those banned in Singapore movies.

At 4:16 AM, January 24, 2005, Blogger J. said...

thanks for the suggestions, boys and girls =) much appreciated. i just got my hands on a copy of the white paper (my printer has been getting quite a workout these few days), so will be curled up on the couch in front of the Eagles game this afternoon.

evan -if you want to shoot your paper and/or your references my way that would be awesome. any help would be wonderful at this point. i feel like i'm floundering. -grin- my usual sense of organisation has deserted me and gone on holiday somewhere where it doesn't snow for 36 hours straight. you have my email, right?

will be back with more shortly, i promise =)


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