‘Yes Men’ hoax highlights failures of military approaches to terrorism
Today in the European Parliament in Brussels, a “defense and security consultant” (actually Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men, working together with Greek MEP Stelios Kouloglou) presented an “industrial solution to terrorism” which — unlike all other military and security solutions — is guaranteed to actually work.
During the presentation, Bichlbaum described the failures of military action, drone operations, assassinations, surveillance, and policing to reduce terrorism in any way — before presenting the “solution”: a fully-defended orb called the “ENDURAsphere,” that gives well-heeled citizens the ability to outlast any terrorist attack. The audience, which included media, members of the public, and several MEPs, asked over 10 minutes’ worth of questions.
“This hoax was about highlighting that there really is no solution to terrorism within the defense and security paradigm,” said Bichlbaum. “Military ‘solutions’ backfire badly.”
Bichlbaum wore a colonial-era moustache. “Any ‘solution’ to terrorism that doesn’t take colonial history into account is bound to fail completely,” said Bichlbaum. “From the parceling of the Middle East after WWI to the invasion of Iraq by the US, there are reasons things are as they are.”
Speaking to press after the event, MEP Kouloglou highlighted some actual solutions to terrorism. “Bombing is a recruiting tool for ISIS,” he said. “If we want to undermine terrorists, we need to end the war in Syria, welcome Middle Eastern refugees, and marginalize extremists by establishing better relationships with moderate forces in Islam. We also need to better integrate the youth of our most disadvantaged communities.”
Today’s hoax, part of a Charlie Hebdo commemoration organized by Kouloglou together with MEP Martin Sonneborn, represents the first action of its sort to take place within the European Parliament. It’s also the first time the Yes Men have collaborated with any national representatives to develop an action.
The Yes Men have been doing their thing for over 12 years now. Their idea was always to inspire others to also use creative means to drive media attention to important issues, and help shape public opinion. They encourage others to use their creativity to advance social justice issues with the Yes Lab — basically a series of brainstorms and trainings to help activist groups carry out media-getting creative actions, focused on their own campaign goals.