Terrorism is politics by other means

Terrorism has been practiced by a broad array of political organizations to further their objectives. It has been practiced by both right-wing and left-wing political parties, nationalistic groups, religious groups, revolutionaries, and ruling governments.[11] An abiding characteristic is the indiscriminate use of violence against noncombatants for the purpose of gaining publicity for a group, cause, or individual. The symbolism of terrorism can exploit human fear to help achieve these goals. Terrorist acts frequently have a political purpose.[32] Terrorism is a political tactic, like letter-writing or protesting, which is used by activists when they believe that no other means will effect the kind of change they desire.[according to whom?] The change is desired so badly that failure to achieve change is seen as a worse outcome than the deaths of civilians.[citation needed] This is often where the inter-relationship between terrorism and religion occurs. When a political struggle is integrated into the framework of a religious or "cosmic"[33] struggle, such as over the control of an ancestral homeland or holy site such as Israel and Jerusalem, failing in the political goal (nationalism) becomes equated with spiritual failure, which, for the highly committed, is worse than their own death or the deaths of innocent civilians
Terrorism, like war, is the continuation of politics by other means. Indeed, terrorism has been an integral and normal part of politics or the spectrum of ‘political’ activity for almost as long as organized polities have existed. Dealing with terrorism is therefore not a new challenge, despite the various claims to such effect by opportunistic political leaders or those in the modern fear industry. Studies and practical experience have shown that the majority of terrorists are normal people. On average, they are well-educated and come from secular educational institutes, with academic training frequently in the sciences or in technology. Most terrorists come from stable, middle-class or privileged families. They do not typically suffer from mental disease or defects. Nor are they drug addicts or the victims of poverty. They are terrifyingly normal. As with terrorist activity in many countries, the root causes or drivers might be ‘over there,’ but many of the people and the potential attacks are located ‘over here.’ There is therefore no distinction in these cases between the ‘foreign intelligence’ and the ‘domestic intelligence’ required for action. The problems and solutions are both transnational. All terrorism is political. Many types of terrorism exist, but each of these has the same objective of effecting change within, or in respect of, a political system through the threat or use of violence. Among the various species of terrorism frequently indentified are ethno-national, politicalreligious, extreme left-right, single-issue and state-sponsored terrorism. Terrorism is, as a rule, a violent methodology of politics, pursued by the weaker party. It normally fails to meet its objectives. If a terrorist group actually had widespread influence, it would not need to resort to the highrisk status of becoming a terrorist group. Evidence and opinions vary, but it appears that

they need to occupy and maintain the moral high ground. Effective intelligence services require effective knowledge that is also shared among nations. strategy and tactics of terrorist groups) exists outside of government. Judaism and Christianity. however.‘conventional’ terrorist campaigns can meet or partially meet their objectives some 10 to 30 percent of the time. or by the differences in legal precepts between a religion and a state system. many intelligence agencies still think that their role is to ‘steal secrets’ from that steadily decreasing pool of material held in secret by other governments and groups . Given current world conditions. for instance. it is safe to presume that terrorism will remain an integral part of the political process for the foreseeable future in much the same way that car accident deaths are part of civil life. while sustained suicide terrorist campaigns may have a slightly higher success rate. This high ground is required in order to attract the human sources that are required for the ‘tip. Terrorism is driven by politics even when the justifications given for the killing of innocents and the recruiting tools of terrorist groups are cast in religious. explicitly and implicitly. experience and organization. along with its affiliated groups. most knowledge (for example. the reality is that most pertinent knowledge exists outside of government ownership or control. such as defence. This methodology cannot normally be defeated by firepower or coercion. The focus needs to be on open source intelligence. Even in areas of presumed government competence. and this commonality must be universally understood among those nations that might be targeted. despite claims to the contrary by political leaders. As long as oppression or the perception of oppression remains. colonialism and political corruption. Terrorism needs to be confronted by a state’s political will – not by its physical power. Unfortunately. Terrorism. The grievances expressed by Al Qaeda are broadly political in nature. readily obtainable. If the state’s intelligence and enforcement agencies are to be effective. linguistic or moral terms. ideology. intelligence and security. Intelligence agencies should be seeking to collect and coherently analyze as much information as possible in order to give insightful advice to their respective governments. for a price and some effort. on this logic. about the said objectives.’ and to obtain the concomitant investigative intelligence required to disrupt terrorist plots and convict those involved. is not fundamentally caused or driven by the theological differences between religions. where most of the information lies and is. the grievances expressed (real or imagined) and the objectives are always political in nature It should follow. Currently. The core goals of such terrorism. that terrorism (as a political act or campaign) cannot be eradicated. ethnic. there will be those who choose violence as a means of advancing their aims. and as long as there is non-parity in the strength of the parties on the various sides of the political argument. are common. Al Qaeda. such issues as economic oppression. and address. Terrorists need to instill fear in order to control minds and to gain advancements from those they are attacking. It can only be confronted by knowledge. does not attack the West over theological differences between Islam. While public documents and communiqués put forth by Al Qaeda or its followers normally start with statements invoking religious themes. This will of the state must be expressed primarily through its various intelligence and enforcement organizations.

and it behooves it to act as such. A shared understanding of terrorism among like-minded democratic states can lead to a common response that makes the most of our highest principles and values. and using their natural strengths and advantages. as noted above. Secrecy remains a necessary and valid concept in democratic governments. and to ruthlessly exploit (or ‘arbitrage’) the differences between them. where they can exploit the climate of fear. modern nation states tend to provide support to foreign terrorist organizations that work against their present and imminent enemies. Of all the common obstacles to an effective counter-terrorism programme in any country. The response to terrorism must be common – at least across the developed democratic countries. Terrorists and their supporters would sooner see democracies fear-ridden. or one group of countries. potential weaknesses will exist based on these divisions. Terrorist groups have demonstrated an ability to study and learn the various strengths and weaknesses of host countries. They respond. then that country is. but it has manifestations throughout almost all government agencies and departments. is pursuing a militarized ‘war on terror’ approach. is the methodology of the weaker power as it attempts to change the policies of the stronger power. while busily undercutting their own principles and strengths. and a strong sense of proportionality. by implication. the stronger power. If one country. I elaborate on my argument studying three cases of state support for terrorism: Iranian support for Hamas. The analyses suggest that. The military approach. the most severe and long-running impediment is the confusion between secrecy and security. agencies and governments would also find themselves in a better position to share and discuss how to form a common understanding and response. If a greater emphasis were placed on knowledge and open source intelligence. It is required for a variety of valid reasons When intelligence agencies become policy-makers and political actors in their own right. terror is nothing but war by other means. I argue that in the face of rising threats to national security in an age of devastating wars. for its part. Terrorism. Terrorism need not be the fear-inspiring and divisive phenomenon that it has become. and American support for the MEK. terrorism gains more recruits. The attempt to ‘combat’ terrorism in a warlike manner by circumventing laws and undermining principles has resulted. terrorism steadily gains the upper hand. by maintaining their moral high ground. If we further submit to the politics of fear. If a terrorist group has attacked a country. and seek to subvert both their intended roles and laws. while its neighbours and allies are pursuing largely political approaches. only in the further securitization and juridification of our societies. Leaders of secure and confident nations do not resort to creating a climate of fear. for many states. to undercut the narrative of violence and fear put forth by terrorist groups. so far. divided and sliding down to their level. The problem is most peculiar to intelligence agencies. has limited utility in that only some seven percent of terrorist campaigns have to date been ended by military action. rather. Syrian support for the PKK.intelligence agencies still have a lot to learn about terrorism. .

We can give in to the realist pessimism that war is an inevitable reality in an anarchic world and terrorism as well as support for terrorism is just politics by other means. The insights one gains from a closer analysis of both terrorism and state-sponsored terrorism in the Middle East also suggest that a comprehensive and sustainable global security arrangement will have to address such issues as equitable share of vital resources in the face of resource depletion and global warming. It would be far-fetched to argue that terrorist organizations are creations of foreign states. the PKK. On 9/11. or the Iranian MEK have been exploited by multiple states as mercenaries against their enemies. approach will argue that "global war on terror" has to be rooted in a more comprehensive endeavor to enhance global security and the security of states. . deliberately modelled after Pearl Harbor. The terrorist strikes on 9/11 were aggression—defiantly so. egalitarian and safe utilization of nuclear technology. if not in their birth As for policy implications. State support has played a key role in the strength and effectiveness of many terrorist organizations. The Taliban had sponsored and enabled alQaeda's attack. the al-Qaeda terrorist group clearly used armed force. first and foremost. it would be equally far-fetched to assume that such major terrorist organizations like Hamas. This use of armed force was in violation of America's state rights to political sovereignty and territorial integrity. or the MEK could have reached more than a fraction of their material capability without the support of foreign states. As such. given the above-mentioned nature of support for terrorism. As the overall risks and threats to states' national security become more manageable. and to all those people's human rights to life and liberty. they justified the responding attack on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. In that case. the Kurdish PKK.Major terrorist organizations like the Palestinian Hamas. and more optimistic. "war on terror" will be an eternal fight and our highest achievement will be "containing" terrorism. that the international community work on strengthening the idea and mechanisms of global collective security to alleviate the pressure on states to follow the guidelines of "self-help" and realpolitik. personnel and a safe haven to the terrorist group. nation-states will have fewer reasons to resort to immoral military options to balance those threats. and a genuine respect for the principle of self-determination. however. An alternative. it seems that we have two general options of dealing with terrorism. by providing resources. both to gain control of the planes and then again when using the planes as missiles against the targets in The Pentagon and The World Trade Center. That comprehensive endeavor will require.

and that. that it ought to be resorted to only if it makes sense in terms of national self-interest. once war has begun. . a state ought to do whatever it can to win. realists believe that it is an inevitable part of an anarchical world system.Referring specifically to war.

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