Wednesday, 28 March 2007

The original 'fire paradox'

Throughout this month, I will be posting excerpts of my lengthy paper "The War on Terror and the Fire Paradox", as mentioned in this post. Here is one such excerpt...

The original 'fire paradox'
From the Fire Paradox project website:

The fire paradox is visible on every continent. … In Europe, a few years later than North America, it became apparent that a systematically implemented policy of fire exclusion in fact often produces the opposite of the desired effect. It aggravates the overall fire risks, due to an increase in the "protected", accumulating biomass. Based on the experience of a few practitioners and the results of past fire ecology research, the aim of this project is to develop new policies for fire management and forest fire risk reduction, adapted to European constraints.

Many counterterrorism/counterinsurgency efforts just lead to the spread of terrorism and the movement’s growth, much like how the efforts against natural fires only worsens them in the future. Osama Bin Laden is not a tree; but you get my point. Also, the real fire paradox sometimes calls for intentional fire-starting; prescribed burning, if you will. In no way am I saying we should promote terrorism, but many counterterrorism efforts do just that.

While one might be able to lessen the chance and extremity of future wildfires by not using counterintuitive preventative measures, the fight against terrorism is different — and, albeit, more complex. If one does not try to fight (per se) terrorism at all, the terrorism could be about just as bad. That’s why measures other than the ones being used by the Bush administration are needed. Nonetheless, many counterterrorism or moderate counterinsurgency efforts end up feeding into the basic premise of the fire paradox: the counter- efforts only make the original enemy, the thing being countered, worse.

Want a rough background on the paradox? See my first post on it.

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