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Bin Laden
Prevention 1
Prevention 2
US Violence
The Prevention of Terrorism
Part Two

Steven Barrie-Anthony

Even when the Taliban falls, while the
military efforts may diminish, this situation is far from over.  We should continue to disrupt the variables.

We should only support a government that allows for individual thought and expression, which would decidedly end the cult of confession.

As it stands, the government feels it is entitled to complete power over the lives, minds and fortunes of its inhabitants.

Unless we take all this into account, we run the risk of creating a
monster that will become increasingly more difficult to defeat using only force. It will rear its head repeatedly.  We don't want to extinguish the fire and then leave the coals smoldering.

In our military response, we need to make it clear that we're attacking the people who attacked us not the whole Islamic population.  If that isn't clear, our actions (combined with Bin Laden's rhetoric) may engender so much sympathy for Bin Laden that the Islamic leaders can't support us even if they'd like to.  Faced with a united Islamic opposition, this war will become much bloodier.

Oversimplifying this situation is the simplest and most dangerous solution.

Our leaders need to make informed decisions based on the understanding of totalism in the present, and in the past.  Given our current level of anger, it would be easy to vilify Bin Laden and those around him, vent our wrath and kill them, and then

consider that the end of it.  That, in itself, is totalistic thinking.

Lifton wrote that "totalism begets totalism," and Miguel de Unanimo, a Spanish existentialist philosopher, wrote, "be careful in the pursuit of monsters that you yourself do not become a monster."

These are wise words.  Now the most pertinent question is this: Will America fall into the same trap as countless others, will we, as the current victim, become the equivalent to the "oppressed", exaggerate the qualities of the "oppressor" and rationalize indiscriminant violence in the name of "justice"?  Will we become a "totalistic monster"?

I hope we take the high road.

Steven Barrie-Anthony has published on eastern and new religions, and has two upcoming articles focusing on the psychology of totalism in the journals Terrorism and Political Violence and Nova Religio.  You can email him at


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