Kroc School Courses Provide Foundation for Understanding the Complexities of Terror Organizations
Monday, August 13, 2018
begin quoteIn many cases, the topic of my classes in the Kroc School intertwined with one another to provide me a basis for understanding the thought process and decision making behind the international community’s approach in handling terrorism.
My educational training served purposefully during my time at the United Nations (UN). My courses in International Human and Humanitarian Rights, Transitional Justice, and Peace and Conflict Analysis were relevant topics within the realms of counter-terrorism. Included in our office meetings were discussions based around the respect for human rights and understanding the dynamics of the conflict, and what had led people to commit acts of terrorism and/or join extremist organizations.
In many cases, the topic of my classes in the Kroc School intertwined with one another to provide me a basis for understanding the thought process and decision making behind the international community’s approach in handling terrorism.
A topic that was ever-present in our office was the creation of “rehabilitative programs” for foreign fighters who have detached themselves from ISIS, most notably amongst the youth. Studies have shown children are either coerced or were falsely admired by leaders with the promise of a better future. In my class on Transitional Justice, we learned the importance of bringing about a new hope to those who have been prosecuted. By equipping the people in prison with adequate jobs and education — a foreseeable future — it will likely steer them away from criminal activity. Of course, the issue related to youth and terrorism require much more effort — a shift in the infrastructure of our global economies, societal norms and legal obligations. The classes at the Kroc School allowed me to challenge and think critically about solutions that are identifiably short-term or long-term.
The methodology that I saw within the UN was the understanding of the issue of terrorism to its full capacity—that includes the trends, technical capacities, and the actors involved: state, local, international and regional communities. It encompasses the idea of understanding the Islamist threat in Iraq and Syria and its influence around the globe. The readings in my class on Peace and Conflict Analysis brought to my attention related ideas within the international community on their views of terrorism, specifically how we should deal with returning foreign fighters who have fought alongside ISIS and carry citizenship in the United States, United Kingdom and other member states. The solution was based on prevention and security requiring people to understand the motivations of the individuals who are affected by terrorism and have also suffered such trauma, especially psychological trauma.
A particular piece from class stood out to me; it was a reading by Chris Hedges called “War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning.” This piece stayed with me for several weeks after reading it. In New York, it resurfaced to shed light on a false narrative I needed to come to truth with in my own identity; it was the idea that somehow I was drawn to conflict, especially coming from San Diego, a proud military city. With my internship, I was able to learn what conflict can do to communities stuck in the crossfire, who have been humiliated, brutally abused, and in economic distress.
I will carry the experience and education that I have gained from the Kroc School and the United Nations with me throughout my career. I realized there is not one solution that does not affect another; it is a cycle. I learned peace can only happen when we decide to humanize those who we have unknowingly put a mask on to hide away our culpability.
This summer, 35 Kroc School students who are part of the MA in Peace and Justice (MAPJ) program have internships working with peacebuilding organizations around the United States and around the world. Before they concluded their school year, they were asked to share updates from their internship experience. Previous submissions can be read here. The previous post is a contribution from MAPJ student Hillary Maravilla, an intern at the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate in New York City, New York.