Friday, 30 March 2007

The facets of terror

Throughout this month, I will be posting excerpts of my lengthy paper "The War on Terror and the Fire Paradox", as mentioned in this post. Here is one such excerpt...

The facets of terror

How can a rogue group or ideology commit acts of terrorism with major state reaction, but state terrorism yields no such reaction? Is fighting in something you genuinely believe in a crime? How is Islamic extremist recruitment for terrorism different from recruitment to a state military?

Whether fighting the foreign occupiers in Iraq, fighting the western menace from within its own borders, or abroad, there is a new kind of terrorism and no one seems to know what to define it as. Call it an insurgency against the West, call it a rebellious movement, call it pure terrorism.*

They fear the west; westerners fear them. The middlemen? The governments of the West, namely of the US, and the extremist Islamic groups. Terror, terror, terror; fear, fear, fear; counterterrorism, counterterrorism, counterterrorism; fear, fear, fear; terror, terror, terror... We usually think of the extremists as the terrorists; the western governments as the fighters of terrorism.

[What the 'terrorists' (supposedly) do] — [what the US 'war on terror' response is].
They want to invoke fear with their terror — I invoke your fear to fight their terror.
They use terrorism to take away our freedom — I use (counter)terrorism to actually take that freedom away.
They use acts of insurgency against us (e.g. in Iraq) — we shall stay (e.g. in Iraq).
They use terrorism to scare you — I use fear-mongering to my gain to scare you using their terror as an excuse.

Political science expert John Mueller says the terrorist threat has definitely been hyped up since 9/11, no doubt to the political gain of the Bush administration. Not only that, but the endeavors in Iraq and Afghanistan that followed inflamed feelings in the Muslim world even more. Mueller calls the lack of terrorist response on US soil, in which reality has contradicted what those in the White House keep stating, a "myth of the omnipresent enemy". He starts his article, "Is There Still a Terrorist Threat?: The Myth of the Omnipresent Enemy", with:

Despite all the ominous warnings of wily terrorists and imminent attacks, there has been neither a successful strike nor a close call in the United States since 9/11. The reasonable -- but rarely heard -- explanation is that there are no terrorists within the United States, and few have the means or the inclination to strike from abroad.

Mueller boldly concludes his article with:
Although it remains heretical to say so, the evidence so far suggests that fears of the omnipotent terrorist…may have been overblown, the threat presented within the United States by al Qaeda greatly exaggerated. The massive and expensive homeland security apparatus erected since 9/11 may be persecuting some, spying on many, inconveniencing most, and taxing all to defend the United States against an enemy that scarcely exists.

The Bush administration dumbs down all terrorism by labeling it as the evil, generic masses of Islamic extremists that are against the United States in every way. Al Qaeda is seen as a great terrorist enemy, a diabolical organization with cells all around the world. In reality, many experts disagree with the Bush administration view; al Qaeda is more of a movement, an ideology even, than an organization (see Burke in "Think Again: Al Qaeda").

* For the sake of keeping things simple, I will keep the assumed label of 'terrorist' for the extremists — in this case the radical Islamic insurgent terrorists. However, both sides, whether led by George W. Bush or Osama bin Laden, are using fear tactics to garner political support for their respective causes. The ultimate definition of terrorism I will lead up to the reader. However, that is not to say I will not present my clear views on the subject.

See here for a look at terrorism from two different viewpoints: that of the White House and that of the jihad movements.

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