Friday, July 04, 2008

To win without fighting ... 
... is the acme of skill.

--Sun Tzu

Well done, amigos. Much more analysis at Terror Wonk, most notably a look at the ethics of using an NGO as a false flag for a ruse.

Finally, in my previous post I noted that there may be a cost in using ruses involving NGOs. Several people with a lot of background on the issue told me that many Colombian NGOs are effectively FARC fronts. The mere fact that the hostages’ guards fell for a ruse that an NGO was aiding in a FARC operation lends some credence to this argument. It is not an unfamiliar phenomenon, the Israelis complain deeply (and with much justice) about NGOs acting as fronts and agents for terrorist groups as well.

However, NGOs in principle are expressions of the fundamental right of association aka civil society – a right and value that is essential for the liberal democratic polity. That some become fronts for loathsome causes is not new, Stalin too had his useful idiots and front groups. One of the great challenges of asymmetric warfare (whether it is terrorism, counter-insurgency or something else) is distinguishing between groups exercising this right – even if their views are controversial – and groups that are fronts for organizations undermining legitimate authority.

Read the whole thing.

Personally, I don't have too much of a problem with the practice. If NGOs have a problem with it, perhaps they should do a better job at not being stooges for terrorist organizations.

Hat tip, Counterterrorism Blog

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