Terrorism: Past, Present, and Future

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Terrorism: Past, Present, and Future
The best response to this network of terror is to build a network of our own -- a network of like-minded countries and organizations that pools resources, information, ideas, and power. Taking on the radical fundamentalists alone isn’t necessary, it isn’t smart, and it won’t succeed.- Joe Biden

Revolutions come only when the public can be stirred into action. The status quo of a region or nation cannot be broken unless there is a large public calling for radical changes to the current regime. Since changing the psycho-emotional balance of the people is paramount to a revolution’s momentum, it is commonplace for revolutionary groups to take drastic measures for attention and sympathy. From these drastic measures, the concept of terrorism has evolved- the concept of violence and public intimidation to engender politics favored by the offending group. Terrorism is any political activity that relies on violence or the threat of violence to achieve its ends. Much of the time terrorism targets ordinary citizens rather than government organizations. Terrorists aim to create a climate of fear as a catalyst for political change or restructuring. The goal for the terrorists is to demoralize the population, and at the same time to provoke the government into a disproportionate response. An overreaction from the government would ideally make the government look bad and give life to sympathy for the group’s cause. This sympathy aspect is almost as important as the intimidation; recruitment is a large part of a terrorist group’s priorities. Al Qaeda focuses on recruiting young boys, sometimes as young as five or six, and sponsoring their elementary education, only to replace it with memorizations from the Quran (which the little boys are quite unable to read) and with indoctrinating messages that groom them to become the next generation of foot soldiers for the organization. Terrorism as a concept and in practice has undergone large changes over time as warfare, the organization of the nation state, and politics as a whole have also evolved. It seems that terrorism has always been able to change with the times. If terrorism is ever to be successfully eliminated, it would take widespread communication and cooperation amongst the nations of the world. The dawn of terrorism as a political tool came in the 14th century as Jewish extremists attempted to incite revolt against the Roman Empire. Instances of terrorism as we conceive it now were few and far between until the 19th century, “Until the rise of the modern nation state after the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, the sort of central authority and cohesive society that terrorism attempts to influence barely existed” (Brown). This means that terrorism is only a useful political tool with the modern nation states. Centuries ago, terrorism wouldn’t have been nearly as effective because any fear caused by the activists would be a waste- without a modern system of communications and in a time when the vote of the common man meant very little, it would be illogical to influence the common man to either play for his sympathy or to try and scare him into support or silence. In that time it just wouldn’t make sense that often to turn to terrorism rather than some other form of political influence. Today, however, terrorism is a concept that almost everyone on the planet has become aware of, and has been affected by. Terror as a political influence today reaches every corner of the globe. The globalization of these tactics can be attributed to advances in communication as well as organizational structure in the Middle East. As Marius Dabrowski writes, “Middle East terrorism has fueled the global wave of terrorism because a variety of terrorist groups (IRA, ETA, Japanese Red Army, Baader-Meinhof Gang, etc.) have received training and support from Palestinian terrorist groups, particularly the PLO.” The effects of public bombings and assassinations are...
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