Friday, February 18, 2005

UPDATE: As of 2008, please check this site

The Solution to the Problem of International Terrorism, in Four Parts
Part One (Version 1.1)
Correctly Identifying the Source of Conflict, or, "What seems to be the trouble?"

     This is my proof that the basis of terrorism is linguistic.  I will show that the linguistic basis is present, and non-trivial, in all the major internal terrorism problems in the world.  I will show that cases where it does not appear to be the case have alternative explanations which do nothing to undermine the main case.  I will then establish the parallel with the "war on terror."

     I started this project with the idea that religions, which are all based on lies, are a problem which can only be solved by their destruction.  I still think that religions are a major problem, but during my research I came to the conclusion that language was more important.  Without the ability to communicate, agreement or disagreement can hardly be reached.

     To pull up terrorism by the roots, you must know those roots.  Usama bin-Laden is right, from the perspective of Islam, that non-Muslims on the Saudi penninsula is an anathema.  The United States might well have needed troops stationed there for the first War in Iraq, but they stayed years and years after.  Why is it that so few Americans were aware of this insult to a billion religionists?  The absence of cross-culture communication, the lack of the ability to easily transfer or relevant ideas, can become critical.

     There are roughly twenty language families in the world.

     A person can learn a language closely related to their own more easily than they can learn a language from another family.

     Now, a detailed look at some of the world's largest nations, and their internal terrorism problems.

  Conflict Language Descent Maps Language Info Extra
China's Uyghur Dilemma
US Navy paper
Uyghur Info Bulletin Homepage
The Uyghur, of China's northwestern Sinkiang Province, live in what was formerly known as East Turkestan
A-B Map, Boeree Map, Starling Map Chinese Family (E), Chinese Family Page Word Comparison in Sino-Tibetan Languages
Eastern Turkic
Boeree Map, Gippert Map, Turkestan Map Uyghur Language Family Uyghur Language Program at Kansas University
CFR writeup
Convoluted Apt Bombings Case
Voice of Russia Links
The Chechen live just north of the Caucasus mountains.  Ingushya, Dagestani and Georgian are the commonly known related languages, all in the Caucasus area.
East Slavic
A-B Indo-European Map, A-B Slavic Map, Another Slavic Map Russian Language Family(E)  
North Central Caucasian
North Caucasian
CIA Caucasus Map, Dryer Map, Another Caucasus Map Chechen Language Lineage(E), Humphries  

Tamil Tigers accused by UN
Tamil Terrorism Links
Tamil Liberation Links
Dravidian might have the oldest roots of any non-African language group.  It is mainly spoken in Sri Lanka and southeastern India.
Boeree Indo-European Map, Indo-Iranian Map, CIA 1973 India Map Indic Language Group (E), Creighton's Language Tree Ignore Religion
Southern Dravidian
Boeree Dravidian, Another Dravidian, And Another Dravidian Tamil Family (E)  
Basque Terrorists
Basque Homeland Links
The language of the Basque has no known roots or close relatives.  They live on both sides of the channel-side of Franco-Spanish border.
West Iberian
Boeree Indo-European Map, Romance Language Map, Spanish Dialects Map Spanish Language Lineage (E)  
Basque Areas Map, Basque in France Map, Basque in Europe Basque Language Lineage (E) ETA Demands Map
(*) indicates alleged al-Qaeda connection of which I've heard.

     What I hope you take away from the above table can be most quickly seen by examining the "Language Descent" column.  The languages in question aren't related, like English and German, or Chinese and Tibetan, but as alien to each other as human languages can be, each from one of the 20 different language families.

     And these terrorists aren't simply random choices.  They represent some al-Qaeda connected (China,Russia,Spain) groups and problems that plague some of the largest countries on Earth (China,Russia,India).

     If you are with me so far, I'd ask you to draw the following parallel.  America is the premiere power on Earth.  Its influence in matters cultural, financial, and diplomatic are generally paramount, even as culture and diplomacy require language.  And yet, for justice to prevail, I hope you will agree that America needs to be cognizant of the likes, bottom-lines, and lines-not-to-cross of each faction.  If only the tiniest handful of Americans speaks Arabic, we can't expect to "hear" if they have a problem.

     I know we all have had experience with miscommunication.  In the high stakes world of diplomacy, or the exacting world of the courts, a result can hinge on the understanding of a single word.

     To complicate the limited communication avenues between the English and Arabic cultures, and the unavoidable miscommunications, there is what I would term 'discommunication,' namely, the intentional messages of "distrust" or "hate" sent by each side to its own.  Notable hatemongers spread the rumor that the 'other' is simply not rational, or is bent on destruction of a way of life.  This holds for both sides, and comes from ignorance.

     In Part 2, the solution, probably already obvious, will be outlined.  Part 3 explains why seeming counter-examples, Israel, Chiapas and Colombia, actually cement the case.  Part four throws in some material that may not fit anywhere else.

NOTE: I am not a linguist.  Even though some of the links probably contradict some of the others, this doesn't change the merits of the case.

     Overall, the most comprehensive and quick-to-peruse set of maps and descent trees can be found on this page.  Unfortunately it is missing some maps, having split Indo-European into four parts, and only mapping three, for example.

     A Global Indo-European Map, a result of Europe's Imperialism.

A more primitive version of this post can be found in my archives.