The Myth of Terrorism versus Democracy
Terrorist tactics, unless directed against the electoral process, have little (more probably nothing) to do with democracy. Terrorism is a political tactic directed at innocent people and can be either domestic or geopolitical. The act can either be undertaken by a state or by non-state actors, with grey areas when states or state like governing entities (i.e., ISIS) are involved with non-state actors.
Most modern “terrorism” involves attacks by groups facing overwhelming state forces in armed conflicts and thus are completely geopolitical rather than directed at democracy or freedom or culture. They are belligerent reactions to foreign intervention targeting groups in their own homelands. Their description as acts motivated by hatred of domestic institutions such as “democracy”, “liberty” or “culture” are utter fallacies reflective of the rejection of truth as a worthy tool in conflict resolution in much the same manner as the mainstream media reports the “capture” of foreign combatants who are then held as “prisoners” as opposed to the “kidnapping” of our own belligerents then held as “hostages”.
All cases of attacks risking non-combatants’ lives are atrocious, whether committed through use of unmanned drones, “clandestine operations”, bombs dropped by aircraft, artillery bombardments or small arms fire or by trucks and cars or improvised explosive devices; whether undertaken by armies and air forces, insurgents or lone operators. Indeed, one of the tactics now most favored by state belligerents involves “special operations forces” which might be how their opponents would describe their own terrorist tactic specialists.
All terrorism, whether state sponsored or reactive, is evil, abhorrent and ought to be eliminated, as should all forms of coercive violence. But misleading propaganda about what it is and why it is resorted to will do nothing to eliminate it. It’s as though a limb suffering from gangrene were treated with psychological counseling for marital problems, when the patient is not even married. It is delusive, and the terrible thing is that it involves not only deception by the participants and by the very dishonest propagators of propaganda who describe themselves as journalists, but self-delusional on our part, where, rather than facing our own responsibilities, we clamor for more and more soothing lies, palliatives to assuage our guilt and transfer it totally onto others; others who ought to bear their own guilt but who are far from being those most responsible for the issues that underlie the active conflicts.
Observations such as these are not popular, especially in the immediate aftermath of attacks using terrorist tactics and resulting in widespread harm to innocents. But while the truth is all too often not comforting or pretty, it is necessary to resolve the problems that beset us rather than merely masking their symptoms.
The following article describes how state terrorist tactics are glamorized: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/world/asia/the-secret-history-of-seal-team-6.html?_r=0. All those who use terrorist tactics, whether states or their adversaries, find them more than justifiable. But we, as citizens, ought to avoid deluding ourselves as to what is involved and why.
Something to ponder on a sad day in March, 2017.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved