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The Forum > General Discussion > Do we REALLY want to declare war on Criminals?

Do we REALLY want to declare war on Criminals?

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The knee jerk reaction(s) seen already in relation to the events at Sydney's Domestic Terminal, in terms of taking out gang(s) say we do...

But do we really? Quite simply, as a society, can we win such a war?

I am not into hyperbole, this is a serious question... Given that these "gangs" are financed by illegal drugs (the manufacture, distribution & sale of), given that something like 20% of our society is daily acting contrary to law in using these same drugs, is our society capable of sustaining an all out war with "crime"?

Simply put, when 20% of a democratic society is outside the law, given no opportunity to alter the laws so as to bring their actions back within the law and facing the daily reality of violent, home invasion by law enforcement as a consequence, is our society all that democratic to begin with?

What will be the response of these gangs, which are known to be heavily armed and without regard for "civilian" life? What will happen when they are forced outside the law, the protection and the restrictions thereof?

Quite simply, we run a real risk of setting in track an open conflict which we cannot, as a society, win. Police cannot protect those who support society openly (quite frankly, they cannot protect witnesses, those in highly policed public areas or even their own stations), while they cannot touch those who support the criminal gangs... As the majority of society will not put themselves and their families at risk, where does that leave democracy?

Maybe it is time to reevaluate drug prohibition? Put most of that 20% of Australian citizens back in the mainstream? Remove there antipathy toward law enforcement & bring them back to respecting the 'rule of law'? Because as it stands at the moment, they are reliant for their supply upon the same criminal element who threaten society openly.

Police and other law enforcement agencies are powerless to stop them, yesterday's brazen actions demonstrated that. Maybe it is time to stop the flow of recruits?
Posted by Haganah Bet, Monday, 23 March 2009 4:29:26 PM
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I think that declaring "War" on criminals is likely to be about as sucessful as the so-called "Wars" on drugs and terrorism.

Speaking of which, the affray at Sydney Airport makes something of a joke all the ridiculous indignities, inconveniences and imposts imposed on air travellers in Australia in the recent past as part of the "War on Terror". From yesterday's Crikey email:

<< The amount of taxpayer money soaked up by the post 9/11 pretence at airport security must run into the hundreds of millions. How many shoe searches? How many sheep yard herds of frustrated travellers shuffling toward hypersensitive metal detectors? How many confiscated nail files? All for our own good of course.
All just slivers of comfort and convenience willingly sacrificed in the noble cause of fighting terror and making the skies safe for the innocent traveller. What piffle.

If one thing is proven beyond doubt by the bikie brawl at Sydney airport it is that the gestures of the past decade toward airport security are nothing more than a highly expensive, inconvenient public relations posture. Never mind the strictest security strictures imaginable, all you had to do to kill on the check-in concourse, was reef a lump of metal out of the ground and swing it with a will.

Proof that in this instance governments have acted not because through acting they could make us safer, but because they needed to be seen simply to act. >>
Posted by CJ Morgan, Tuesday, 24 March 2009 8:58:49 AM
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HB, while I agree with the central idea and general tenor of your question, I feel you've confused a few things.
The Bikies are central to the Amphetamine trade, not the general drug market. Very few aussies are into speed and it's derivatives, even allowing for the ecstasy usage by the young. The 20% figure would seem to relate to smoking grass, and on that I support legalisation.
I don't think personally that it's this area that has lead to people not respecting police, or the law, although it contributes. The actions of the police themselves world-wide, media-hype, hollywood, bad laws, there are many causes.
The general unwillingness to get involved is symptomatic of our self-centered society, and the break-down of a central ethos.
The police can only react to events, would you want them arresting people because they MIGHT commit a crime? Given the will, laws, and money, they could greatly reduce the hard-drug trade, in time.
Although Bikies like to call themselves 1%ers, even if you take the media hyperbole of 20,000 bikies and affiliates, that's only 1% of 1% of the population, an insignificant number really. On top of that most of them are working men, holding down jobs, paying off mortgages, raising families. They may not be nice people overall, but that's not a crime. If the inner-circle, hard-core bikies who run things could be dealt with, the rest aren't fools, break the ring-leaders and the rest will fold, it's the way groups work.
We'll never be rid of the edge-dwellers, every society has them, the violent, the criminal, the dis-affected, the plain stupid ones. Our social and legal systems can increase or decrease the numbers, but they'll still be with us, nothing's perfect, ever.
I don't know if a "war" is a good description, but it's not a bad prescription, if the powers-that-be would actually fund one, it works when focused properly.
Democracy is an illusion, an attempt, a wish, but it's the best we've got, and given time and the will, it might even come true one day.
Posted by Maximillion, Tuesday, 24 March 2009 9:07:34 AM
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Maximillion is unfortunately correct. I can only amplify some of the points.
War on... is sheer rhetoric a knee jerk response to placate the plebs.
In truth it probably means a dedicated task force and effort to combat their activities and in that I agree if only for the fact that our society must make a stand against those who behave in an organized fashion to be outside the law.

While I dont ride a motor bike (two wheeled coffins) I feel obliged to make the distinction between bikers and bikies. We are talking about the latter a sub culture of deliberate misfits. But the rule of law must be maintained (such as it is).

I think the security issue of the airports is a whole different issue and one that needs a serious look. In think that CJ and others need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. i.e. Where dit the shooting take place in a secured area or inside the front foyer?
The whole issue of Australia being a front line target for 911 style actions are open to debate but we dont want to become a hub for easy access to other parts.
Posted by examinator, Tuesday, 24 March 2009 10:09:42 AM
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To the question of whether we can totally win a war against criminality I think the answer is no. Even if the authorities managed to pick off the gang leaders, another two heads of the hydra tend to pop up and take its place. Recent events would suggest that all authorities have to do is patrol their turf and largely let the gangs take care of themselves on their side of the fence.

The best the law enforcement agencies can do is put a line in the sand and pick off any nasty or criminal element that crosses it. It's best for society overall if the police are reactive rather than proactive (as all being proactive does is smoke criminals out of their holes and accelerate their actions). Then the authorities need to look harder at their own actions like airport security checks and objectively assess what difference they make to the security of society.

On a positive note, the recent gang violence may have the unintended consequence of forcing the security services to make their airport security more well-rounded.
Posted by RobP, Tuesday, 24 March 2009 1:33:54 PM
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Well in terms of the phrase, "War on" , I was merely paraphrasing one of the News Ltd Editorials (Age IIRC)...

How exactly can you separate so easily the pot trade from that of amphetamines? The distribution networks are essentially the same parties, it involves a hell of a lot more money than most would realise. You would doubt that the effect of making 20% of the population criminals, is to make them less respectful of society's rules & police in general? Really?

I honestly doubt the Taliban at any one time had the lukewarm support of 20% of the population of Afghanistan, yet they would have won any general election held while they held sway... Why? Because enough people would be forced to examine their reality and conclude that their personal safety and that of their families required them to take the 'easy' option.

As to Airport Security & the AFP.... Putting aside my distaste for ethnic/racial profiling... Exactly how where 15-20 armed males, of middle-eastern appearance (some admittedly are Greek) and of military age, allowed to hastily enter, disturb the peace and then run amok in Sydney's Domestic Airport (assuredly given the Geo-political reality, a serious potential target), bashing one man to death, without anyone reacting to prevent their leaving?

Where would we be now if they had backpacks?

Seriously, by entering that airport normally, with bags, two or three suicide bombers could do more damage in the check-in lines than they could by downing 2-3 planes.
Posted by Haganah Bet, Tuesday, 24 March 2009 2:29:40 PM
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