By Paul Gallant, Alan Chwick, & Joanne D. Eisen
New York, NY –-(Ammoland.com)- If someone lies to you in order to manipulate you into changing your behavior, you should be very cautious and look for intent.
The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) proponents have been lying from the outset to get States to jump on the ATT bandwagon.
Just as the push for an Arms Trade Treaty was getting started, a new organization, the Geneva Declaration Organization (GDO)(http://tiny.cc/dbgqo) was created in 2006. The group’s stated goal is the reduction of world violence. But its true goal was to examine, and then exaggerate, the level of global armed violence, and thereby frighten States and their civilian populations into demanding an ATT.
Arms Trade Treaty proponents vigorously advocated, at every opportunity, the notion that if the instruments of armed violence could be controlled, or even eliminated—especially by a global Arms Trade Treaty—the peoples of the world would be safer.
As is usually the case with weapon-prohibitionist groups, the authors focus on the instrumentality of violence, and ignore the fundamental causes of violence. In order to accomplish this, they use the same tactics that have brought them success in the past. They deliberately confuse “association”—that is, guns are associated with violence, and “causation”—that is, guns cause violence.
Timor-Leste – Not Us, Blame the Guns
The young south-Pacific nation of Timor-Leste (TL), formerly East Timor, was used by the GDO and other ATT proponents, as one of the examples to try to link violence and weapons.
However, they have been lying about the significance of firearms in Timor-Leste, a former colony of Indonesia. In their own words, fear-mongering ATT proponents admit that guns are not a problem in TL. According to prolific firearm-prohibitionist authors Robert Muggah and Emile LeBrun, “Timor-Leste continues to enjoy a situation in which illicit small arms and munitions are very limited in number and generally pose little risk.”
One of the TL papers listed by the GDO notes: “But Timor-Leste is hardly awash with guns….In street violence dominated by bladed weapons, there is often a tacit agreement not to employ guns….”
Anti-gun researcher Sarah Parker gave it away when she admitted: “Anecdotal evidence suggests there are relatively low levels of firearms possession in Timor-Leste and that civil disturbance incidents in Dili have been decreasing since the disturbances in 2006.”
She then explained why the presence of firearms should be disturbing to all: “… there have been spikes of violence [in TL], and the incidents in which firearms were used are of ‘growing concern’.”
Security analyst Edward Rees also blamed the presence of weapons for violence—specifically for the violence occurring in 2006—and the attempted coup. He stated:
“…a few weapons can have a disproportionate impact in the context of political and criminal violence…in possession of little more than a few dozen police and military weapons rebel commander Major Alfredo Reinado held Timor-Leste’s government and population virtually to ransom….”
In other words, ATT proponents admit that there is a low level of firearm possession, and decreasing levels of violence. And yet they still persist in associating civilian weapons possession with the civil unrest of 2006. But the facts of that rebellion have been obscured by smoke and mirrors.
The Big Lie
The big lie is that the violence has been fostered—not by the presence of weapons, as we would be led to believe—but by the UN itself. It is a lie both by omission, and a lie by the deliberate confusion and mis-use of statistical terminology and concepts.
The facts show that, upon achieving sovereignty on May 20, 2002, the country was built by the UN, complete with UN ideals, including, not surprisingly, a law banning the civilian possession of weapons.
Here’s how the UN created divisions and conflict in the new nation.
In order to gain freedom from Indonesia, the people of TL delivered themselves into the “saving hands” of the UN with promises of a referendum for independence if their freedom fighters laid down their weapons. After the referendum, in retaliation for the Timorese’ overwhelmingly positive vote for sovereignty, and with UN protection delayed, Indonesian forces virtually flattened the country.
In an article entitled East Timor: A UN Failure, Max Lane summed up succinctly just after the country achieved sovereignty: “Of course, it is true that East Timor is now independent, which was what the East Timorese people wanted. But it was not a result of anything done by the UN. The UN has been nothing more than a midwife—and not a very good midwife at that.”
The UN then egotistically, ambitiously, experimentally, and selfishly exploited this opportunity to build a nation in the idealistic image of Western democracy.
UN agencies and regional experts took part in a Joint Assessment Mission (JAM). Tanja Hohe, who served in East Timor as a District Electoral Officer for the UN Mission in East Timor, described the situation: “The logic of the JAM was that the exit of the Indonesian system resulted in a power vacuum….The assumption by the JAM of a ‘vacuum’ opened the doors for social engineering at the grassroots level. It appeared to be the right moment to introduce democratic structures to a situation where nothing seemed left.”
Hohe complained: “The discrepancy between the ‘modern’ way of selecting staff for the administration and the local ideas about legitimate leaders in these positions led local population to reject the personnel,” so that the government was neither stable nor accepted by the people as legitimate.”
Although not a reflection of western-style democracy, the people already had a stable, comfortable governing apparatus in place. Yet, Timorese traditional leaders were now excluded from the new model imposed by the UN, creating resistance and confusion among the populace.
Another error in judgement by the UN affected the stability of the security forces. Here again we see the arrogance of UN decisions. According to a US Congressional Report:
“Divisions between the military and the police can be traced to the recruitment process…. a U.N. decision led to over 300 individuals who had earlier served in the Indonesian police force in East Timor to be hired into the new police of East Timor.”
This UN decision to hire Indonesian-trained men, rather than resistance fighters, led to a great deal of friction and hostility, not only in the security forces, but among the populace.
The UN demonstrated more than just incompetence in the failure to achieve a viable state. One author described it thusly:
“…malevolence on the part of international officials. The unprecedented powers to be assumed by the UN attracted the very type of individual who would be intoxicated by that thought. The mission itself was corrupting, even for individuals who were not already pursuing power for its own sake. Put in a certain structure and context, foreign staff exhibited colonial-style behavior….Some officials even attempted methodically to prevent the participation of the Timorese in the transitional government of the country. They wanted to yield unfettered their newfound authority and spend the hundreds of millions of dollars committed by the world’s donors.” He summarized: “The UN has given birth to a failed state.”
Although the UN, on paper, transferred power back to the Timorese people in May 2002, the UN’s presence nevertheless persisted.
By 2004, it was evident that “Administration at the local level…[was] still plagued by confusion caused by an unclear local governance structure that was left behind….” by the UN. So the existence of civil unrest should not have been a surprise, nor blamed on the presence of weapons.
Here’s why we believe that the UN was responsible for the rebellion. In 2006, the UN advised Defense Minister, Roque Rodrigues, to dismiss 591 angry soldiers who claimed that they were discriminated against. The dismissal of the soldiers in mid-March is widely believed to have been the event that triggered the violence in Dili, the capitol of TL.
Beginning April 24, 2006, a number of demonstrations by the soldiers and unemployed youth highlighted dangerous tensions. On April 28, army forces fired into the unarmed crowd of demonstrators, killing 5 people.
Soon after, Major Alfredo Reinado deserted from the army with about 20 members of his platoon, claiming that Prine Minister Alkatiri had given the order to shoot. On May 23, 2006, Reinado and 21 other men attacked the army near east Dili. On May 24, a civilian militia attacked the army on the west side of Dili.
The failed coup against the ruling faction by Reinado almost caused civil war to break out in Dili in 2006. Reinado “held the country to ransom” with firearms. But when the inevitable violence finally erupted, it was not blamed on poor political leadership, nor on UN meddling, nor on interference and annoyance on the part of Australia over its fair share of the oil that lay between it and TL.
It was blamed on the presence of weapons there, instead. So where’s the logic in that?
And how many firearms were in the hands of Reinado, one might reasonably ask? A grand total of less than 20 weapons! Yes, you read that right – no typo here. As usual, guns “took the bullet” for the ensuing violence.
Which Came First the Violence or the Guns
Here’s how they were able to switch the blame from themselves onto weapons.
Although many weapon-prohibitionists and their followers may be ignorant of the difference between association and causation, most of those in leadership positions are outrightly lying. For example, Lora Lumpe, who has been consistently a weapon-prohibitionist, and has written extensively on firearm-related matters, knows the facts from the fallacies. Lumpe admitted that scientific investigation has failed to confirm her beliefs.
“The relationship between gun ownership and gun death is complex, however, and subject to debate. As with any social policy issue, proving a causal relationship between widespread weapons availability and gun violence is impossible. Doing so is hampered by a lack of complete and reliable data and an inability to screen out mitigating factors, among other things.”
But Lumpe refuses to accept the truth, and shows how she can easily place the fault for violence on its instruments, rather than on the real causes. She continued:
“Moreover, even if a direct, causal relationship between the presence or quantity of firearms and firearm violence cannot be conclusively proven—or dis-proven—many government officials recognized the value of a public health approach to gun violence which includes isolating and controlling the vector of injury—in this case, small arms.”
Lumpe ignores the distinction between “causation” and “association.” That deliberate confusion between the terms is how the weapon-prohibitionists and the media always manage to point to the instrumentality of violence, and avoid pointing to the cause.
In other words, forget the real cause —in the case of TL, poor leadership— and get the gun away from civilians.
As a simple means of explaining this difference to your friends: higher sales of ice cream are associated with hot days, but this association does not prove that ice cream makes the weather hotter. In evaluating the relationship between an action and a particular outcome, it is a mistake to assume that one factor causes another. Factors may be related or “associated,” but “association” does not prove “causation.”
With regard to firearms and other weapons, it is logical to assume that in areas of armed conflict, there are higher numbers of weapons than in non-conflict situations. However, this does not prove that “weapons cause violence,” an assertion constantly made by the weapon-prohibitionists. It’s an easy trap to fall into, and anti-gun proponents know this. The misuse of this distinction, by showing photographs juxtaposed with the news, is one of their most-used tricks. And it works.
The UN knowingly misused this scientific principle, so that they could, in all dishonesty, bring Timor-Leste into the discussion of the need for an ATT. The Timor-Leste populace has been hurt by UN policies, just as we all will be hurt by the enactment of the UN’s ATT.
About the authors:
Dr. Paul Gallant and Dr. Joanne D. Eisen practice optometry and dentistry, respectively, on Long Island, NY, and have collaborated on firearm politics for the past 20 years. They have also collaborated with David B. Kopel since 2000, and are Senior Fellows at the Independence Institute, where Kopel is Research Director. Most recently, Gallant and Eisen have also written with Alan J. Chwick. Almost all of the co-authored writings of Gallant, Eisen, Kopel and Chwick can be found at http://gallanteisen.incnf.