Thursday, July 7, 2005

Understanding Terrorism

If you read the blogs of rabid fundamentalists, terrorists are sub-human beings who delight in inflicting death, misery and terror on unsuspecting civilians. They are the vermin of the world. I have trouble getting my mind around such concepts. From my perspective, terrorism does not constitute depraved immorality but is a STRATEGY of warfare.

(Before anyone gets the idea that I am supporting terrorism by trying to understand its motivational factors, let me say that I abhor all types of violence. As a pacifist, I'm against war, terroristic acts, gang violence and neigborhood fist fights as well as spousal and/or child abuse. I firmly believe that the only thing violence ever begets is more violence. So this analysis is not undertaken because I approve of the strategy utilized.)

We generally define terrorism as being violence directed at noncombatants or innocent civilians instead of purely military targets.

In the days of yore, there were strict rules for military engagements. Two armies lined up against each other and duked it out. In some instances (noted in The Bible, for example), one military force would lay seige to a community, killing not only the opposition's military force but all inhabitants as well. Still, the prime initiative was to destroy the other sides fighting capability.

However, during the American Revolution, the colonists were at a distinct disadvantage. They were outnumbered and out-gunned. So, instead of lining up face-to-face, many battles were fought guerilla-style. Colonial soldiers lined the roads to pick off a few British soldiers as they marched.

If the colonists had fought SOLELY by the rules of the day (one army facing off against the opposing army), the revolution would have been a failure. The colonists would have annihilated by the superior British force.

The American Revolution and other historic examples taught future military leaders and strategists a valuable lesson -- there are no rules in modern warfare. Each side does what they have to do to gain the upper hand and to win the day.

The old rules of military engagement have been tossed in the dustbin of history. During World War I, both sides tried to GAS the other into submission. During World War II, all sides engaged in aerial bombing of cities -- not simply military targets -- of the opposition (e.g., London, Berlin, Tokyo, etc.) You want to talk about terrorizing people...

Today, we have a few nations with superior military forces and munitions. Most nations or groups do not possess the numbers nor the firepower to fight directly against the superpowers. As with the American colonists of the late 18th century, it would be suicide to fight these superpowers under the auspices of conventional warfare.

Regardless of your opinion of the situation, many Islamic nations, groups and people feel oppressed under the thumb of the United States and her allies. They believe the US is responsible for their economic impoverishment that has been impetus for much physical suffering and countless deaths.

Since, as indicated above, a miltary to miltary war is out of the question and they concurrently can't match the superpowers in economic and/or media terms, what other stategy is available to them BUT terrorism?

From THEIR standpont (not mine), if they can inflict enough terror among the citizens of the superpowers, the public will lose its resolve and will pressure their governments to meet the terrorist's demands. It's an ugly strategy, but the only one a weaker group has in order to defeat a more powerful group.

It is for these reasons that I and many others believe the key to halting terrorism is not attacking it militarily. Each time we meet force with force, it only enrages those utilizing terrorist strategy more. It redoubles their resolve to commit even more heinous acts. So, they attack us again and we try to retaliate even more. It creates a never-ending cycle.

Proponents of an increased military response say that those of us in opposition to it are coddlers of terrorists. They say that, if we don't smash them under a steel boot, we remain their hostage.

I think the exact opposite is true. Every time we kill one terrorist, we create two. If kill 100, we create 200. If we kill 1,000, we create 2,000. As long as we keep helping to create them, we insure that we remain their hostage and that terrorism will remain their most viable strategy.


  1. First, I think there's something wrong with your code somewhere, as the comment page doesn't load for me unless I right-click and Open In New Window. At least, I surmise it's your code, as this doesn't happen at any other blog I've visited. Just trying to help, despite it probably coming out as a complaint... ;)

    Second, I'm just wondering about your 2-for-1 terrorist you have any evidence to substantiate that, or is it just your opinion? My word, if that were actually true...*shudder*

    How about, instead of blaming a perfectly understandable reaction to terrorism on the reactionaries, you blame the terrorist aggressors instead?
    Besides, what are one's options, really? Some group of fundamentalist nutters who hate what you stand for bomb civilians instead of seeking a diplomatic solution to your differences (or simply being tolerant of them), so what do you do? Talking to them won't help. Beef up security in public places? Makes sense, but it won't prevent future attacks. Make everyone afraid to go out and live their lives? No, that'd be too much like taking away freedom.
    No, you go find them and stop them. Like police do with criminals.

    Sure, there are other options, but they're unattractive or too idealistic (or both). Like changing our way of life to be such that it doesn't anger the terrorists. But appeasement only gets you so far, and at what cost? What if you could no longer follow the Tao because we the people decided the only way to stop terrorism was to become muslims?

  2. Sorry about the code thing...I've never noticed it. I'll check it though.

    Second, I'm just wondering about your 2-for-1 terrorist you have any evidence to substantiate that, or is it just your opinion? My word, if that were actually true...*shudder*

    Simple mathematics and actually is far greater than 2 for 1. If you kill a member of my family and we feel it's an unjust killing, then my whole family becomes your sworn enemy. Think of the Hatfield's & the McCoy's -- same concept.

    Re your third point, I'm not absolving the mad dog zealots -- However, I am saying we haven't left them with many viable options. Diplomacy? The US doesn't negotiate, we dictate. That's one of the key problems that has caused many in the Muslim world to hate us.

    Like changing our way of life to be such that it doesn't anger the terrorists.

    To me, this is a red herring issue. Prior to the 80s (I believe), zealot Muslims had never attacked the US. If they hate the way we live, one would think they would have attacked us during the Roaring 20s or the Free Love 60s. Aah, but there were NO attacks then. How do you account for this?

  3. I was wondering more about the source of your statistics. Math is easy, finding the truth is hard.

    How do I account for no Muslim attacks prior to 1980 (as you believe)? Globlalization. The world got smaller. I doubt very much if the average fundamentalist zealot Muslim (if there even were any in 1920) had any idea what was happening outside the Middle East. Also, back to our earlier exchange about a similar topic - No Israel before what, 1946?. And there were bigger problems in the Middle East in the 1960s than perceived Western (American) cultural affronts to Muslim sensibilities, like the aftermath of the Suez War, the 6 Days War, etc.

  4. Oops, forgot one thing - why do you suppose we don't negotiate with the terrorists?


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