The tragic spiral of terrorist violence

How to read a CLD

The fatal attack on a British soldier in London that the would appear to be a retaliation for the activities of British troops in Afghanistan or in Mali, was not only shocking in its brutality but in its potential implications for British society. Such attacks can easily begin a downward spiral into sectarian violence. Within hours of the attack they were arrests as right-wing extremists targeted mosques. The pattern is shown in this causal loop diagram.

The extremists target the wider population of the group that they regard as representative of the crimes committed against them. This in turn sparks retaliation. The profound tragedy of this is that the violence in Afghanistan is transported to the streets of London where it can easily become endemic.

One solution is to round up the potential perpetrators of this violence: the extremists within the Muslim community and the right-wing fascists in the British community.

The causal loop diagram shows that policy objective in arresting extremists is to reduce the number of terrorist attacks.

Certainly this would be an effective and popular politically move in the short term. Unfortunately such a punitive approach would only have the long-term effect of further exacerbating the sense of grievance amongst the extremists.

Long-term solutions involve building a resilient and tolerant community. This is like an extremely difficult when countries have multicultural populations where the wounds of sectarian violence are still fresh.


Why linking Tullamarine and East Link is a bad idea.

How to read a CLD

The state government of Victoria has announced a plan to link east link freeway with the Tullamarine freeway. Both of these freeways are currently at gridlock during peak hours. Linking them will only move to congestion from one to another and neither has the capacity to the string peak hours. The dynamics of this are very simple, the situation will simply keep getting worse and worse and the new freeway will be as congested as existing freeways with a very short period of time.

The causal diagram shows these interrelationships.                                                                                                        

The dynamics of building new freeways has been well known for some time. as traffic congestion rises, governments build more freeways. These new freeways provide, in the short term at least, increased access to residential areas on the city fringes. This in turn stimulates housing growth in these areas which places increasing pressure on the freeways which increases congestion.

Sports betting and drug taking

Two aspects of Australian sport have dominated the media in recent times. The first is the extent to which betting is coming to dominate Australian sport and the second is the extent to which drug taking has become endemic. No one seems to be joining the dots.

There is sufficient evidence to suggest widespread corruption associated with betting on sport. At its worst, this involves match fixing where whole teams are suborned by unscrupulous bookmakers. In its more minor form, it takes the form of betting on single events in a game over which an individual player has complete control, namely bowling a no ball on the fourth ball of the second over. In both cases, people in the know have an opportunity to make money at the expense of those who do not. Is important to remember that the amount of money available to those who do know is equal to the amount of money available from those people who do not know.

More invidious form of corruption is the use of performance enhancing drugs. In many cases, this is done, somewhat naïvely one thinks, simply to improve Individual or team performance and bringing glory on all those involved. However, even endeavouring to see such activity in the best possible light ignores the fact that the taking of illicit drugs is often associated with contact with criminal elements in the sport. These criminal elements often have large amounts of money to launder through bookmakers. Thus the supply of drugs in many cases is closely linked to illegal money-laundering activities.

This causal diagram shows how these links work. If drug taking is providing a team (or horse) with a marked advantage then the chances of winning a greatly increased for those who have inside knowledge.  As this degree of certainty (based on inside information) increases, the amount of money invested also increases and as the pool of money increases, the money invested by “mug punters”, who simply back their own team out of loyalty, also increases. It’s a win-win for the money launderers and the bookies.

One technical aspect of this diagram is important. It is made up entirely of what are known as reinforcing loops, which means the system keeps heading in the same direction all the time. In this case, things will only get worse. At present, there is no balancing loop (in the form of some policy control) to bring the situation under control.