Terrorism of any kind is inexcusable. But since it is a fact of modern life, the only way to combat it is to understand the heart of the terrorist.
This is not the first time an aeroplane has been used as a suicidal weapon. Japenese Kamikazie pilots were well known in the 2nd World War. However terrorism today is defined by acts against civilian targets. But targetting civilians has become an accepted form of warfare. Be it London or Hiroshima in the 2nd War or arguably even Baghdad today. There is surprisingly nothing in the Geneva Convention that forbids this ..
It can be argued that all of the above were acts of War, where one Nation State has formally declared war against another. Although Iraq was not a ‘Declared War’ against a ‘state’ but against a ‘regime’. Well, all wars are delared effectively against a regime, whether the regime was a popular or democratically elected one or not. So what constitues a declaration War ?
The big difference today,then, is that in declaring a general War against terrorism, we seem to have declared a War that is not confined to any one State or Regime, but against an Ideology. In doing so we are falling right into the trap of the terrorists are we not ?
For according to the terrorist organizations they too have a self declared war that does not recognize the Nation State boundaries either. They have declared war against a vague notion of the ‘West’ as an ideology. And they too claim to be held together by an allegiance to an ideology rather than a Nation State. Their stated umbrella of Ideology is Islam.
This is exactly what the Terrorist organizations desired. To break the notion of war as between Nation States and for it to be seen as a conflict between ideologies. They need for their recruits to break away from any allegiance to their Nation States and commit themselves to an ideology that does not recognize National Boundaries.
It’s as if in a notional modern day conflict between Islam and the Christian church (as during the Crusades), US citizens were asked to chose where their prime loyalties lay. Christianity or the Church ? My guess is that an overwhelming loyalty would be with the US,(or I certainly hope so),but the moment you ask the question why, and discover that the answer lay in the quality of life, security and hope, you know why in countries where this quality does not exist, young people provide natural breeding grounds for terrorism
What else do we need to understand ?
One of the prime mistakes we make is to term modern day terrorism as ‘Islamic Terrorism’. This is an usurped Islam and we give the terrorist much greater credence and therefore psychological power by terming it so.
Secondly, we need to understand that the major recruiting grounds are amongst people that feel unable to give their allegiance to a system of goverment that is seen as unfair,unstable or non existent, and therefore are looking to ‘belong’. This was so starkly brought out by the British Citizens that felt so alienated from their own goverment that they comitted acts of terrorism against their own country.
So a lesson we must learn is that terrorism thrives on unstability and alienation.. And the lessons from Iraq and Afganistan are clear. As they are from Pakistan, Chechnya, Palistine and parts of Africa. That stability cannot be forced upon. It is an organic process.
Miltary action is therefore not an option. Nor are economic sanctions for they have time and again proven to harm the general populace far more than they do the regiime, who seem to gain a psychological advantage.
In fact quite the opppsite. Every effort must be made to bring the people into mainstream economic activity. Every effort must be made to give them hope for a better future. Economic sanctions do just the opposite.
And as long as nations that are more powerful and prosperous continue to persue short term economic, military or strategic goals internationally, we are doomed to live with what is bieng termed as ‘ Islamic Terrorism’. Or any other ideology that may turn up in the future. These Nations must understand that the vast wealth they have accumulated through the policies of Globalization, bring with it vast responsibilities. And in a Global economy you cannot just trade to the singular advantage of your own economy. It is a contradiction in terms.
When Bush in his Presidential campaign said “leave no Child behind” he should, as all other heads of state need to recognize too, that the concept must be extended to a Global Village if the true and fair advantages of Globalizations are sought.
My view is that if you look deep into the heart of the problem, you may want rename Islamic Terrorism as ‘Economic terrorism’ by the disposessed. For therein lie the recruiting grounds. And while the usurped ideology may be termed Islamic, it is the alienation, anger, and lack of hope that leads young men and women to become suicide bombers.
And it just so happens that Islamic nations have huge populations that are amongst the disposessed of the world.
If we do leave the majority of our children behind, Globalization will wreak havoc upon our next generation. And I wonder what further ideologies will surface in the name of ‘Economic Terorism’.