Nonviolence and Terrorism: Webinar



On this page you will find several resources including a link to the webinar if you missed it; a follow-up Q and A with the presenters, and resources for further action.







Did You miss the webinar?  Here it is.


Q and A with Dr. Nagler:

Q&A with Professor Galtung:

  1. I was intrigued to hear you mention our patent system — U.S.? or more broadly western? — as an example of how our individual-centered economic system differs from the “sharing” or community-centered economic system of sharia law. I’ve heard that there’s a similar difference between our use of interest-bearing loans and a ban on usury under sharia law. Learning more about both of these differences and any others there may be like them, especially anything that helps to explain how we came to ignore so-called externalities, i.e. our environment, in financial transactions will be of great interest to me in my seeking to understand how our economic system called capitalism has come to fail us in terms of guiding or not guiding us to treat each other and our environment with all due care as well as respect. Please comment on this if you wish and refer me to any resources you think would be helpful to me.

Thanks lots, Michael Brackney

Dear Michael Brackney–well, this is crucial and a key difference between the West and Islam. Islam is not against capitalism but against anybody participating only with capital; they have to join fully, sharing coasts and profits, risks and gains–not charging risk-free interest, high or low. usury or not, just for having capital. But sharing is not only about money, also about other resources like knowledge–and this is where the patent system enters. Like patenting malaria medicine–. And all the externalities. You may find my book Peace Economics useful, please have a look at books from Transcend University Press. Yours, JG

  1. You present the option of legitimizing the search for a caliphate and negotiating with IS as the only reasonable options. The way you say it sounds like this is only a negotiation between IS and the West. Is he suggesting the West should “let” IS have rein over the regions they claim a right to?
    What about the majority of Muslims who do not support IS or IS vision of Islam? And the status of women.
    Any thoughts?
    Thank you, Banu Ibaoglu Vaughn

Dear Banu Ibaoglu Vaughn–well, please have a look at this week’s editorial on Transcend Media Service,; I am suggesting quite a lot more. Above all defensive use of Western military precisely to protect those who do not want. The caliphate they want to resurrect had the millet system for minorities. And no Israel; maybe Israel is now approaching the Islamic State?

The situation is messy, your points are very important, but in Afghanistan, for instance, the position on women is changing. West is not that many decades ahead on that one. Yours, JG

  1. The webinar is still going through my head and the good news is that it creates more questions than it answered (I see new questions as good news). Let me begin by saying that professor Galtung’s comparison between the lost caliphate and a counterfactual lost Vatican comes up in my mind over and over again and I think that this comparison is helpful in understanding one part of the story that is often overlooked. What I found missing was a recognition that the philosophy espoused by IS is a rather unusual position in Islam and that this peculiar and rather violent vision of Islam is one that has been pushed not by people connected to the last caliphate (the Ottoman empire) at all but rather it has been aggressively pushed by the Saudi kingdom with money from our Western industrialization process which was childishly addicted to its oil. Our leaders have effectively failed us in making the pact with the Saudi regime. Now, a priority should be to free ourselves from such a dependency. Instead we bomb Syria in pact with Saudi Arabia, thus artificially preventing the Saudi regime from undergoing a timely and quite natural collapse.

Johannes Castner

Dear Johannes Castner — yes, counterfactual comparisons may be useful for more empathy. And yes, the Islamic State is extremist-but I see that as a position produced by the extreme violence they have been exposed to from the “US-led coalition of the willing”. They cannot run a state on that basis, and the reports from the inside sound better. About oil, o-i-l: I agree with you completely; anybody that addicted to that 3 letter word should hesitate before accusing others of being addicted to their g-o-d. But we have to protect the victims, and killing perpetrators is not the answer. What the West now does reminds me much too much of the Crusades 1095-1291–with West losing. Yours, JG

  1. Dear David Hartsough–you asked my about my prediction for the US empire–spelt out in detail in the TUP book The Fall of the US Empire–And Then What?–by 2020. I stand by that, but note that in an empire the USA had other countries do the killing for them, they now have to do the killing themselves.

Very few countries today willingly kill for the USA; my own, Norway, to my great shame, being one of them; now maybe reconsidering. I was hoping for England to opt out, but no. By 2020, yes! Yours, JG

What Could be Done? Some Resources for policy (see the webinar itself for personal actions).

  1. From Mel Duncan, Co-founder of Nonviolent Peaceforce (with a current project on Syria)

My suggestions involve time, courage, patience and money.

  • Support Syrian civil society who are committed to reconciliation and a peaceful transition to a pluralistic Syria.  They are there, working sometimes mundanely and sometimes heroically.  They come from across the political, religious and geographic divides.  I got to meet with representatives of some of these groups in Aug. and Oct.  NP is working with a coalition of 60+ of these groups helping them to establish local civilian protection, early warning/early response systems, localized ceasefires, strategic accompaniment et al.  Periodically, we will reconvene them to reflect on lessons learned and create future plans, AND, more importantly, help to strengthen the bonds among them so as to encourage a pluralistic base for the future Syria.
  • Support Syrian civil society in violence interruption and norm changing activities where young Syrians are trained and supported to intervene with their peers who are being violently radicalized.   The “interrupters” as they are called serve as credible messengers who offer an alternative narrative and norm The NGO Cure Violence http://cureviolence.orghas been doing this type of violence interruptions with gangs in over 25 cities in 8 countries.  These techniques can be applied in neighborhoods in France and Belgium where young people are being recruited as terrorists.
  • Provide resources to support projects of resilience, livelihood and meaning for young people especially young men, in areas that are suffering the most violence.  For example, I recently talked with a young woman who has been working in Aleppo with teenage boys to build libraries from the rubble for children and then provide learning activities for the kids.  Terrorism by Northern Ireland’s Irish Republican Army, for example, was strongly reduced by grassroots, job-creating, economic development.
  • The self-determination of the Syrian people, including their right to an independent, sovereign state on their national territory, must be respected.  Therefore, the Syrian people must be at the center of the resolution of the conflict, and other states and non-state actors must support a Syrian-led process.
  • Negotiating tables must include those previously excluded, e.g. women, Syrians of  all ethnic and religious backgrounds, and non-violent political groups working for peace, justice and reconciliation on the ground in Syria.
  • Look to women to provide the constructive leadership out of this mess.
  • A ceasefire must be negotiated in non-ISIS controlled areas.  The ceasefire would be monitored by UN-DPKO and international and local civilians (similar to the Mindanao model).
  • Immediate humanitarian aid needs to be MASSIVELY increased in Syria in a neutral manner according to internationally recognized standards.  The US, France, Turkey and Russia would be better served by food dropping food rather than bombs.
  • Mass support has to be given to neighboring countries of Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.  Deteriorating conditions for Syrian refugees in neighboring countries are a major reason for the mass migration  to Europe.  80% of the refugees in Joran are in poverty.   It will be cheaper for the EU and better for many of the refugees to support them in countries close to Syria and better for many not to have to try the migration.
  • Provide unarmed protective accompaniment to the refugees who are migrating, starting in Turkey and going up through S.E Europe.  Nonviolent Peaceforce is exploring this option.   UNICEF estimates that 12,000 children are presently unaccompanied on this exodus.
  • Syrian refugees must be welcomed into western and gulf countries.  Sweden is setting the example by accepting an equivalent to 2% of their national population.  Canada has welcome centers.
  • Actively support solidarity with and inclusion of Muslims in western countries.  When Anglophone Canada reduced its marginalization of Francophones, it reduced the threat of terrorism from Quebec.
  • Support nonviolent movements of Muslims organizing  for change in western countries.  This provides avenues for change, necessary outlets and creates an alternative to radical recruitments. This is not a time to suppress conflict but rather to support it being expressed nonviolently.
  • Recognize that domestic terror is a matter for police not militaries.  While I accept the need for robust policing in times of crisis, the emphasis needs to be on community based policing where people see police as serving them rather than as an occupying force.  I am hoping this will be an outcome of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US.


  1. From George Lakey, Founder of Training for Change, a recent article in Waging Nonviolence lists eight steps.
  2. My recent post has a similar list, but focused on personal empowerment.
  3. Post by Jennifer Lickteig, “Terrorist Organizations and the Use of Non-violent Tactics” from Northwestern Journal of International Relations, X:I (Fall 2009) will be found here. Lickteig appropriately uses the hyphenated form, non-violence, which many use to mean the mere absence of physical violence. Here it refers to a terrorist group adopting or going over to political means, not full-blown nonviolent resistance, as in the first Intifada.

Two books (with chapters by MN):

Senthil Ram and Ralph Summy (Edd.), Nonviolence: An Alternative for Defeating Global Terror(ism). Nova Science Publications (2007)

Karin Carrington and Susan Griffin (Edd.), Transforming Terror: Remembering the Soul of the World. University of California (2011).

By Michael Nagler; Metta Center for Nonviolence, October 2013

One hundred years before September 11, 2001—on September 11, 1906—Mahatma Gandhi officially launched the world’s first Satyagraha, the term he coined for the strategic, nonviolent resistance campaign. Noted peace scholar Michael Nagler tells the story of the birth of Satyagraha (literally translated as “clinging to truth”), during Gandhi’s time in South Africa.

E-book for Kindle

E-book on Smashwords