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Story by Scott Probst

Debate, or rather the get-tough bidding war, on the subject of radicals continues here in Australia. For some weeks now the idea that anyone from this country that goes to certain areas for any reason can be cut adrift from Australia has been out in the open.

There is a certain appeal in this. If you go to fight a war somewhere else (except in our army of course), you should just stay there and be damned. After some thought however there seem to be some problems with this approach.

First, not all of the Australians are fighting on the same side. In other words, some are on the ‘good’ side, say with the Peshmerga. Still others might not be fighting at all – they might be acting as medics, or they might be women going to be so-called ‘wives,’ whatever that might be. So we might be condemning all kinds of people to not ever returning to Australia, even misled and victimised young women and their families who have gone to retrieve them. It’s hard to see how this will decrease radicalisation: leaving people with no choices but bad ones rarely has positive result.

Now, even if all the people going over there were really fighting in the war, and in fact are basically  wrong-headed in their approach, would we really want to cut them off from ever returning? What would happen if we did? What would happen if every country in the world did this?

It seems the most obvious result would be that there would be a large pool of young, disenfranchised, uncared for, trained killers. They would be mobile, have no state loyalties, be embittered and easily led, as they would not be in touch with any influences other than whatever pseudo-religious propaganda the current warlords wanted to feed them. And if none of them had a state to return to, where would they go? They would go anywhere there were aimed at, and cause trouble there.

And when they caused trouble, what would happen? We, or others, would have to send troops to stop them. The whole cycle would start again. I can’t see this doing anything except starting another, more serious, episode of war and destruction.

If they were in a proper country, they would be getting more balanced information, be subject to the rule of law, and we would be in a position to re-influence them away from whatever garbage their heads had been filled with.

I’ve been just this morning encouraged to see a political party, the Greens in this case, coming out with some thoughts along these lines. Logical thinking seems in short supply amongst the majors at the moment on most issues, and some considered debate is most welcome.