Winning the war against the Islamic State

Jul
8
2015
by
Lynne McTaggart
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The terrorist attacks on Tunisia, Kuwait and France have awakened a renewed desire of our leaders to use force to overwhelm the Islamic extremists. I have a small experience of what may be an alternative, based on the Intention Experiment I did for the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

I carried out this experiment largely because I was tired of seeing the videos of the burning towers replayed, as had been done every year since it happened. With September 11, 2011, looming I was determined to offer up an alternative.

The terrorist attacks on Tunisia, Kuwait and France have awakened a renewed desire of our leaders to use force to overwhelm the Islamic extremists. I have a small experience of what may be an alternative, based on the Intention Experiment I did for the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

I carried out this experiment largely because I was tired of seeing the videos of the burning towers replayed, as had been done every year since it happened. With September 11, 2011, looming I was determined to offer up an alternative.

I decided to partner with Dr Salah Al-Rashed, a Kuwaiti from a prominent Arab family, who had singlehandedly pioneered the human potential movement in the Arab world. After setting up the Al-Rashed Centre, he began offering workshops and training programs on self-development, spirituality and mental and physical health, and had begun to fly over Western thought leaders to teach his Muslim audience in hopes of creating a bridge between the two cultures.

Salah is also a well-known peace activist, calling for peace in the places like Palestine at a time when others in prominent positions like his were calling for reprisal and continued conflict. He is, for all intents and purposes, the Deepak Chopra of the Middle East.

Salah has hosted a number of my workshops in Kuwait, Dubai and Turkey, and I’d loved the attendees every time I’d gone. His followers were the perfect group to provide my Western audience with a counterpoint to Al-Qaeda.

It was Salah’s idea to open the event by apologizing on behalf of all Arabs, but I told him the West needed to apologize as well. However justified America felt in invading Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, the fact remained that the Afghans had lost far more than we had. Most Westerners did not acknowledge that some 100,000 innocent Afghan people had been killed, injured, detained or deported because of a war caused by a small group of radicals, who were terrorizing them as well.

Peacemakers such as my friend James O’Dea, former head of the Washington Bureau of Amnesty International, who’d witnessed public trials in such war-torn areas such as Rwanda, convinced me that one of the fasted routes to restoring accord is frank and public apology for past wrong-doing.

Salah and I were of one mind about the target: it had to be Afghanistan, specifically the Helmand and Kandahar provinces of Afghanistan, the two large provinces in the south and the major strongholds of the Taliban, which had incurred the highest number of war and terrorist-related injuries and deaths among both military and civilians of any province in the country.

In the end tens of thousands participated from a giant festival organized to mark the anniversary called One: the Event and its simultaneous broadcasts by many other transformational organizations, with many thousands signed up on our website and a reported 25,000 or so tuning in to a daily webcast I held.

It was undoubtedly the biggest mind over matter experiment in history, attracting participants from 75 countries, from Iceland to Brazil and from California to Indonesia, and also every Arab country on the planet.

After the experiment ended on September 18, we had to embark on a patient three and half month wait, to allow events to unfold over the rest of 2011 so that we could determine whether our intention had any effects, while I had to find somebody inside the American military willing to disclose the true figures to me.

Eventually I managed to wrest figures out of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a NATO-led mission set up by the UN Security Council initially to train the Afghan Forces, but whose powers had grown leading the combat operations in the regions, and UNAMA (the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan), which tallied civilian casualties.

From these two reports, which compared casualties among military and civilians as well various kinds of enemy attacks with those of prior years, we were able to extrapolate some decent figures.

We were stunned by the huge drop in the casualty rate that occurred among civilians and the military after the 9/11 Peace Intention Experiment, specifically in our two provinces.

Overall, between September and November 2011, civilian casualties fell by an average 37 per cent, compared with the casualty rate in August 2011. All three months had figures well below the average death rate that had occurred the 28 months prior. In fact, November 2011 represented the second largest percentage decrease of civilian casualties since the beginning of 2009.

In terms of enemy attacks, NATO figures show a decrease that was 16 per cent lower than average attack rate from Sept 2009 to December 2011, the two plus years before.

Perhaps the most interesting downward trend had to do with overall initiated attacks by the Taliban. In the beginning of 2011 attacks began climbing relentlessly upward, but after our experiment in September, the numbers began a steep downward trend, falling drastically from October to December of 2011.

As the report noted about the second half of the year: “This is the longest sustained downward trend in enemy-initiated attacks recorded by ISAF.”

What made our results even more compelling was the fact that the big decreases in violence that had occurred in our target provinces of Helmand and Kandahar had not been uniformly experienced around the country.

But of course once again, a million and one circumstances that could have accounted for the decreases in violence. For one thing, there was the fact that the US and NATO had already begun to wind down the Afghan war, although that did not explain the concentrated lowering of violence in our two regions.

Although I was preoccupied with the figures, and whether we could actually demonstrate we’d lowered violence, something else even more interesting was happening around me that I began to notice on Facebook, Instant Messenger and the two surveys I’d conducted of the participants about their experience, one in English and the other in Arabic.

Thousands had tuned into the web TV station I’d teamed up with to do a daily live stream update on the event. During the daily broadcasts, which had an instant messenger chat room, we noticed that many of our Arabic participants who could write English began to Instant Message and start befriending with people from the West – and vice versa.

Hundreds of participants wrote in to describe how this experience changed their attitudes toward Arabs, and vice versa.

As one Westerner wrote: “The experience of IMing with people from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and many other Middle-Eastern countries – during the IM messages, we wished each other peace and expressed love – made me cry. It was wonderful! And, it was very therapeutic for me – a citizen of the USA.”

For another participant, a big shift occurred in his attitude to the Middle East: ‘Forever will Afghanistan be synonymous with Peace for me. It is a wonderful gift.’

Yet another wrote: “I was moving my feelings about 9/11 into action for peace and cooperation.”

This was not simply experienced by Americans; many of those from other places around the world experienced profound changes in their views of Arabs. “I felt people from Arabic countries – it was like a support from right side one can virtually lean on,” wrote one member of our community f
rom the Czech Republic. “It was like feeling brothers from far away, that was very touching,

“This day is the day that we all felt the loss and no one felt the gain. . . .” wrote Bahareh. “Your God is my God. My God is your God.”

“We are brothers,” wrote Hamad Al-Qasimi.

They began apologizing to each other and writing down their ideas about how to continue to create peace.

“Stop using the words ‘East’ or ‘West.”

“Change it from East and West to World.”

“Call it WEast.”

Gandhi was a huge advocate of the power of different faiths praying together as a means of bridging divides. And by sending intention together, essentially that’s what we were doing.

The war against the Islamic State will not be won by simply by countering violence with violence, but by connecting the East and West people to peace and to each other, one person at a time.

Lynne McTaggart

Lynne McTaggart is an award-winning journalist and the author of seven books, including the worldwide international bestsellers The Power of Eight, The Field, The Intention Experiment and The Bond, all considered seminal books of the New Science and now translated into some 30 languages.

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