"Terrorism" is practically the most frequently used word now. People are scared. Nearly every accident is claimed to be an act of terrorism. But what is terrorism? What people can be called terrorists?
August 1945: the United States Air Force drops the
world's first nuclear weapons.
September 2002 - the attack on Twin Towers and the Pentagon.
October 2003 - hostages in the musical "Nord Ost".
December 2002 - February 2003 - the USA is getting ready to bomb Iraq .
Which of these four events was an act of terrorism? Which achieved or will achieve anything? Which, if any, will history judge as justified? And whose history? Terrorism is not the simple, sharp-edged, bad-guy phenomenon we all love to condemn. No clear
line marks off politics from the threat of force, threat from use, use from covert or open war. Who is or is not a terrorist? The suicide pilots, the rebels, the armed forces of the state?
Terrorism is fundamentally a political act.
Terrorists act to advance a cause they mean to create tyranny, either directly or indirectly, so that the political order that they prefer can take the place of the current one. Terrorists can be either rebels seeking to overthrow a state or states seeking to overthrow the international order or states seeking to maintain privilege for rulers and stifle dissent among the people. In every case the motivation for
terrorism is political.
Terrorism has a long, if tainted,. pedigree. Aristotle recognized it, even if it
had no name at the time, when he wrote that "the first aim and end of tyrants is to break the spirit of their subjects." What we know as terrorism can be traced to the Russian nihilists and anarchists of the 19th century, who gave a name to...