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Zarqawi death has 'little impact'

"The US ambassador to Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzad, has said the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi last month has had no impact on the violence."

Yesterday's Urgent Question:
John Hemming: In many conflict situations, people start to want revenge more than they want peace. In the battle for hearts and minds, the danger is of creating vast resentment. Would it not be sensible for the Government to revisit their strategy from the perspective of how we can persuade people, instead of increasing the use of force?

Tom Watson: Our commanders on the ground understand the need for civic engagement. They are responsible for security building in Afghanistan and they understand that if ordinary Afghans do not buy in to what they are doing, our security objectives will not be met.


With asymmetric conflicts frequently those involved fail to understand the emotions of terrorists. Often the sort of acts that result in bombings such as the IRA in Warrington are driven more by a need for revenge than a rational consideration of what the most effective response is.

The same applies, of course, with governments. There is a perception that a strong response is all that is needed. Sometimes strength is needed. I am a fan of talking quietly and keeping a big stick. We do, however, need to make sure that we don't overuse the big stick.

Any consideration of conflict situations such as Israel/Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland (although things are much better there), East Timor should take into account the way human beings behave. Acts which are perceived as unjust (such as the US Actions in Fallujah, or bombings that kill mainly civilians) do create an emotional desire for revenge. Taking such situations and creating a peaceful environment is much harder than being careful not to get there in the first instance.

There is getting to be a perception as reported by the British Ambassador to the US recently that Peak Oil is much closer than was previously thought (he said between 2010 and 2020). One would hope that the world would handle this situation calmly and rationally, but it does not look that likely.

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