World Trade Center wreckage, 2001 (Wikipedia)
Terrorism is a trans-state issue. What does that mean? 1) Affects many states. 2) Can't be handled by any one particular state; states must act in concert to handle.
Also, in the case of the Al-Qaeda terrorist threat, can't isolate targets in just one state, spread around the world, become "hydra-headed beast." (Hydra-ancient Greek, multi-headed water serpent)
Why is this the case? Track leaders, track perpetrators, track money, track materials used in attacks. Must share intelligence, access to detainees/information/evidence. Terrorists global, attempt to confront must also be global.
What are other trans-state issues?
Environment, seas, resources, proliferation, drugs, human rights, human trafficking, justice for crimes against humanity
US defines terrorism: "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents."
Snow's definition: "the commission of atrocious acts against a target population normally to gain compliance with some demands the terrorists insist upon."
CHARACTERISTICS OF TERRORIST ACTS
Terrorist acts: illegal, random, unpredictable, intended to upset normalcy of life, purpose to frighten target group of people, want a lot of people watching (Al Qaeda mega-terrorism also want a lot dead).
CHARACTERISTICS OF TERROR TARGETS
Prestige targets (World Trade Center, Pentagon), symbols of US financial and military power
Sometimes targets of opportunity--when Al Qaeda didn't have ability to strike in US, went after overseas interests, African embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, USS Cole in Yemen
Always innovating, always probing points of weakness (Ramzi Yousef, shoe bomb in the Philippines in preparation for ten airliners over the Pacific attack; Christmas '09 underpants bomber).
People--kill or maim. Not selected individually but because of membership in target group.
Not necessary that attacker kill self (suicide terrorism). This has evolved in methods of various terrorist groups (Palestinians, Iraq, Indonesia, Tamils in Sri Lanka).
WHY ENGAGE IN TERRORISM? WHAT DO THE TERRORISTS WANT?
Can't fight conventionally, too weak, too poor, too outnumbered.
Can't just argue. Target state people not listening, not aware, would find demands bizarre.
Get word out, publicize cause (Palestinian cause not well known until Olympics, 1972. Focus had been on Arab-Israeli wars, not the plight of the Palestinian people).
Coerce foreign policy change (beheadings of Japanese in Iraq).
Coerce domestic policy change (release prisoners, release leader Abu Bakar Bashir, let Northern Ireland go).
Demoralize target society (economic cost of 9/11, more recent focus on economic targets: major US corporations, Wall Street)
Elicit overreaction by enemy (Some believe Bush's bellicose reaction was exactly what Bin Laden wanted, energizes followers, foments anti-Americanism, elevates Osama as chief enemy of superpower).
Enforce obedience on the part of population (state terror: KGB, Gestapo, also Ku Klux Klan cross burnings and lynchings)
Punish wrongdoing from terrorists' perspective (traitors, collaborators)
Keep morale of group up, show still effective, don't let target forget you're out there. Helps with recruitment too.
Exceed "cost-tolerance" of population with attacks, make willing to accede to demands.
IN PARTICULAR, WHAT DID OSAMA BIN LADEN WANT WHEN HE DECLARED WAR ON AND THEN ATTACKED THE UNITED STATES?
Eviction of US troops from land of two holy places (Saudi Arabia, perhaps Jerusalem) (Occupied by Zionist-Crusader alliance)
End US support for Israel
10/01 added Palestinian statehood to list of demands, condemned Saudi government for allowing US forces in
More recent tapes/demands:
Justice for US attacks on Muslim world ("Because you attacked us and continue to attack us 2002, cites Palestine, Kashmir, Lebanon, Chechnya, Iraqis under sanctions)
End support for governments of Middle East which are US agents/steal wealth from the Muslims and prevent adoption of sharia (Islamic) law (2002)
Revenge for the killing of innocent women and children in attacks and Iraq sanctions (2002, 11/04 Osama video)
Encourage Americans to embrace Islam (2002 on)
Stop global warming (9/07 video)
Anti-capitalism (9/07 video)
Quotation from 2002 Letter to America: "These tragedies and calamities are only a few examples of your oppression and aggression against us. It is commanded by our religion and intellect that the oppressed have a right to return the aggression. Do not await anything from us but Jihad, resistance and revenge. Is it in any way rational to expect that after America has attacked us for more than half a century, that we will then leave her to live in security and peace?!! "
WAS BIN LADEN CRAZY/IRRATIONAL?
Thought he would win because the US couldn't accept casualties (Beirut 1983, Somalia 1993) (cost-tolerance exceeded, in Snow's terms).
Martyrs enter paradise upon death.
Reacting against 300 years of Islam's defeat, after 1,000 years of greatness/victory--tired of playing second fiddle to the morally and religiously inferior West.
Evokes prophetic tradition--wealthy but living in hardship for the good of the umma.
Try to set whole Islamic world against the West, call on allusions to great past and to great contemporary sufferings of Muslims at the hands of Judeo-Christians (for example, 600,000 Iraqis dead under sanctions)
How does terror help you achieve those goals? Why did Osama bin Laden choose the terror path?
WHAT ELSE COULD OSAMA BIN LADEN HAVE DONE?
Dakwah (call or calling)--Islamic proselytization
Found a newspaper
Lead an underground revolutionary movement in Saudi Arabia to overthrow the government and get US troops out.
Non-violent resistance à la Gandhi????
WHY CHOOSE TERROR INSTEAD?
Is it a last resort?
Believe religiously justified to wage holy war
US too powerful. Who would be stupid enough to fight us in a conventional war? Only way can attack is through terror
Embeddedness of terror in hit-and-run raider tactics (pre-Mohammad).
Is terrorism the exclusive provenance of non-state groups like bin Laden's Al-Qaeda? Or CAN STATES ENGAGE IN TERRORISM AS WELL?
States commonly use terror during war (bombings of cities WWII Japan, Britain, Germany, Vietnam--destroy will to fight, though this rarely works). Russians' destruction of Grozny in Chechen War.
Also use terror against own populations to subdue dissent ("Dirty war" Argentina 1960s, Chile 1970s, Saddam v. Kurds, USSR/Nazis)
Other: state sponsorship of terror as when Libya supported Pan Am 103 bombers.
Or state shielding and encouragement of terrorists Iran--Hizbullah; Iraq-Abu Nidal, paying families of suicide bombers in Israel; Afghanistan-Al Qaeda. Why? agree with cause, want disorder in West/enemy, hospitality)
MUSLIMS OFTEN ACCUSE THE US OF TERRORISM; radicals often call Bush the "arch-terrorist." Where does this charge come from?
Killing of innocents, US certainly guilty of this. More civilians have died in Iraq than in 9/11.
Chile, Iran, Iraq (hundreds of thousands dead under the sanction regime), Afghanistan (Muslim media--horrific images of disfigured, bloody, and dead), Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma, Angola, Propped up dictators in Latin America, support of Israel (Lebanon, Palestine), the list goes on.
State use of violence against another state justified in US. Do not target civilians, go out of way to protect. If some still die, that is what happens in war. Muslims tend not to agree with this view. US CHOOSES to attack, responsible for deaths of each and every civilian killed as a crime. Umma. Islam under attack. Justified in using force against US, even civilians. "One man's terrorist, another man's freedom fighter."
HOW MIGHT A REALIST ADVOCATE DEALING WITH THE TERROR THREAT?
Go through IR Theory lecture and find clues as to what a realist should do: reality, states, anarchy, bad human nature, self-help, power, national interests, survival, balance of power, international organizations, morality secondary.
National interest of the United States and power as guiding principles. Attacked because had let power wane. Rebuild military, enact harsh revenge on terrorists/supporters of terrorists. International institutions superfluous to US national interest. Cheney: "One percent doctrine." One percent chance something going to happen, have to act as if it is a certainty and respond accordingly. Key is not gathering evidence and checking facts. Key is responding in strength, war tact.
HOW MIGHT A LIBERAL?
From IR Theory lecture: perfectable, progress, cooperate, peace, conflict as a result of misunderstandings and inadequate institutions or inequality/poverty, common humanity, non-state actors, interdependence, democratic peace thesis, international organizations.
As a trans-state issue, terror can only be handled by states working in concert. Increase information sharing and cooperation. Build multi-lateral coalitions to address terror threat. Make use of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies (attack on one, attack against all) and the UN. Understand the causes of terrorism (such as deprivation) to address. Recognition of mistaken US policies of the past (blowback--arming Bin Laden during anti-Soviet war). Use force where possible to attack terror, but hard to use force on hydra-headed Al Qaeda.
1. Is the "war" analogy a good one for the struggle against Al Qaeda?
Can you kill a technique? War against terrorists?
2. Is terror still a threat to the United States today?
Hydra-headed, Al Qaeda franchises AQAP and lone wolves like Nidal Malik Hasan/Fort Hood shooter 2009, WMD, militant interpretation of Islam still persuasive to some, resiliency, capacity
Updated: November 3, 2011.
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