Thursday, October 02, 2008

In the War on Terrorism ...

... this idea changes much.

Our entire response to terrorism assumes that terrorists attack for political reasons, or economic reasons, or idealogical reasons, but the evidence shows otherwise. "People turn to terrorism for social solidarity", to be part of a community (a role the church should be fulfilling, perhaps?).

Terrorists, he writes, (1) attack civilians, a policy that has a lousy track record of convincing those civilians to give the terrorists what they want; (2) treat terrorism as a first resort, not a last resort, failing to embrace nonviolent alternatives like elections; (3) don't compromise with their target country, even when those compromises are in their best interest politically; (4) have protean political platforms, which regularly, and sometimes radically, change; (5) often engage in anonymous attacks, which precludes the target countries making political concessions to them; (6) regularly attack other terrorist groups with the same political platform; and (7) resist disbanding, even when they consistently fail to achieve their political objectives or when their stated political objectives have been achieved.

Abrahms has an alternative model to explain all this: People turn to terrorism for social solidarity. He theorizes that people join terrorist organizations worldwide in order to be part of a community, much like the reason inner-city youths join gangs in the United States.
I think it's well-worth the five minutes it would take you to go read this short article. "This kind of analysis isn't just theoretical; it has practical implications for counterterrorism."

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