You are here: Home Knowledge Base Polity Dealing with Terrorism Proposals Dealing with Terrorism
Symposium 2008

Proposal - Dealing with Terrorism

The Challenge

Over the past years there has been a dramatic increase in terrorism all over the world. At the same time, many governments are at a loss on how to combat terrorism. Despite massive counter-terrorist ...

Over the past years there has been a dramatic increase in terrorism all over the world. At the same time, many governments are at a loss on how to combat terrorism. Despite massive counter-terrorist activities, terrorist attacks in weak states such as Afghanistan and Iraq have continued and the threat of attacks in developed countries remains strong.

The various manifestations of terrorism are as diverse as its causes. Some terror movements are rooted in nationalistic attempts to gain independence, while others are founded in religious fundamentalism. Still others see their goal in fighting political and/or economic elitists or supposed imperialists. However, one common denominator is evident: virtually all members of terrorist groups see themselves as unjustly treated outsiders of society. Coupled with a strong sense of personal pride, they refuse to seek reintegration into the society in which they live. This attitude is promoted within a terrorist group, which develops its own code of social conduct that is often in direct conflict with parallel societal structures.

Fear and terror among civilians are the major reward of terrorists. This is why prudence and deliberate discretion are of utmost importance in the fight against terrorism. Combating terrorists with force which leads to further civilian suffering does not weaken terrorist groups, but rather strengthens them.

Terrorist ideologies should be encountered by society with confident displays of own societal moral concepts and ideas. There is no way to win an ideological altercation with terrorism if a society is uncertain of its own values and morals. Extreme ‘religious correctness’, which causes society to question its own values, is as unsuited for dealing with terrorism as is a politically-motivated special treatment of terrorist-committed crimes. Terrorists should thus be treated as criminals and not as freedom-fighters.

Terrorism is gaining global momentum, not only in targets, but also in logistics, which increasingly crosses borders and continents. This is why the fight against terrorism must be internationally coordinated. At present, the security and armed forces of many countries seem neither willing nor capable to fulfil this daunting task.

In the long run, success against terrorism depends largely on society’s ability to dehydrate terrorist breeding-grounds; it seems critical to present potential terrorists with alternative perspectives for the future. A social policy that promotes equal opportunity and social participation can have more influence over terrorism in the long-run than a purely defensive approach against terror.

A counter-terror approach based on prudence, confident displays of own societal values, and social integration has great potential. Nevertheless, the world must face the fact that there is no turning back to a pre- September 11th world. Particularly international travel and large-scale spectacles and events must always include substantial provisions for counter-terror means – and will never be as safe as before. The risk of becoming a victim of a terrorist attack is evolving into just another hazard of life to which one must become accustomed to – ready or not.

    Related Proposals

    Proposal
    Symposium 2008

    GES Summary - Dealing with Terrorism Panel

    It is unclear whether we will ever know what is at the root of terrorism. There are many factors—political, social, cultural as well as psychological—involved in whether individuals or groups adop ...

    It is unclear whether we will ever know what is at the root of terrorism. There are many factors—political, social, cultural as well as psychological—involved in whether individuals or groups adopt terrorism as a tactic in pursuing their goals. It would probably be impossible to reduce the threat entirely and we may have to learn to live with that fact—however hard that is. Nevertheless, drawing from the large number of studies, several actions stand out as medium to long term strategies which governments and societies can adopt to stem current levels and lessen the chance of future occurrences on

    Polity, Civil Society
    Proposal
    Symposium 2008

    Responding to the challenge of global terrorism?

    In the aftermath of September 11, 2001 President Bush declared war on terrorism and sought to marshal a coalition in a “war against terror”. It was clear at the time that describing the campaign a ...

    In the aftermath of September 11, 2001 President Bush declared war on terrorism and sought to marshal a coalition in a “war against terror”. It was clear at the time that describing the campaign as a ‘war’ was ill-conceived. The task was too complex, the ‘enemy’ too diffuse and the time horizon too long to sustain co-ordinated commitment. Most importantly, the common values that would sustain a long struggle were not in place. Lamenting the failure to achieve the desired result, Robert Leiken wrote in 2005: ‘With a few exceptions, European authorities shrink from the relatively stout security measures adopted

    Polity, Business, Civil Society
    Proposal
    Symposium 2008

    Dealing with Terrorism

    As terrorism is a tactic employed by many different groups in may parts of the world in pursuit of many different objectives, it is a little misleading to think in terms of solutions per se. Terrorism ...

    As terrorism is a tactic employed by many different groups in may parts of the world in pursuit of many different objectives, it is a little misleading to think in terms of solutions per se. Terrorism, like other tactics, will continue to be employed as long as it succeeds in achieving the ends of those who deploy it. The solution then is to render the tactic ineffective. This prompts the question, what is it that terrorists are trying to achieve? The most cursory look at the history of the tactic suggests that terrorists have been singularly unsuccessful in achieving

    Polity, Civil Society