I have looked at terrorism before and I will reprise it definitionally for those who have not paid much attention to them:
Transnational Terrorist organizations do not respect national boundaries, have no defined way to come to power and use any and all means, most particularly targeting civilians, to gain their ends. They do not have an authority structure, do not set down and plant a flag and proclaim their new way and how they will protect those under them and will *not* wear a uniform to identify themselves. Transnational Terrorist do *not* fall within the Geneva Conventions, unlike their revolutionary state-based counterparts. By adhering to no laws, respecting no international order and proclaiming only death and terror as their tools, they gain a different title, much older than revolutionary: Barbarian.Put purely and simply terrorists are barbarians, no matter *what* their stated belief system/religion/world view is, those views are using non-civilized ways to get a forum and gaining audience by being uncivilized. When a terrorist cites a *justification* for their activity it should be noted that such is not a *reason* for it. It is, simply put, a gloss or fiction to cover the activity itself. No matter what the stated *goal* of a terrorist organization or *justification* for its act, the act in, and of, itself speaks of barbarism. The actor or group of actors doing these things have devalued the entire system of civilization and are, instead, trying to re-instate rule by pure, brute force.
The next paragraph from the above citation:
These modern day Barbarians believe that since the standards of respect for life and liberty held by civilized nations and peoples is a weakness, they seek to exploit it through any means. They will publicize any holding of their compatriots as evil and bad and torture via any means possible to gain sympathy and erode the will resistance to them. They will kill anyone, use any means, and do anything necessary if they believe it will erode the will to resist them. They have no respect for life, no respect for liberty and no respect for anything except their dream visions which they do not have the *honor* to attempt to bring about through revolution.This covers all of those that kill to institute their system and stand *for* nothing better. The tried and true path, no matter if it ends in success or failure, of legitimate Civil War of putting forth a new Governing way, demonstrating adherence to that Governing method, *protecting* those in the geographic area that is under such governance, flying a flag or identifier or putting forth some sort of icon or other such to identify this new way of Government, and putting actual and accountable troops into uniforms to fight *for* this way and be held as responsible *soldiers* is the civilized way of rebellion and revolution. A truism for revolutions has always been: examine how they exercised themselves prior to taking power and you will see what they will do *after* taking power. Very, very, very few revolutions have ever used totalitarian and lethal adherence to themselves during a revolution and then put a democratic system in-place afterwards. Actually, I cannot think of a single instance of this.
With real *revolutions* what you see is what you get.
With terrorism there is only the lethal lead-up and no after-phase *until* the attempt to carve up things once chaos is in-place is done. This is a destruction of civilization in order to recast the entire world into a new state of being that conforms more to that of what the terrorists want. In the end this leads to something different than civilization as we know it, where Nation States *protect* individuals and can have liberty and freedom protected, or not, in their doing. This is often insidious and there is a slower form of this on the World stage, which seeks to diminish the Nation from within by weakening its legitimacy from within and amongst Nations. From a different article of mine I take the following:
And so in 1948 the adherence of a people to their group identity began, was pushed, flourished with nourishment from their common travelers and results in an odious spread of this conception that leads AWAY from individualism and TOWARDS the destruction of the Nation State. By actually FORMING a Nation State, the people of Israel were hated and still are, by the academics adhering to Transnational Progressivist ideals. If they only would have pitied themselves and made nothing of themselves... why, then they could be ADMINISTERED TO by the UN... just like the Palestinians and this idea of letting a common people form a Nation State could be put on the ash heap of history by *proving* that only victims should gain any adherence as groups and be elevated by the elite defining who they were.The internal erosion of Nations which degrades what it means to BE a Nation is *also* on this same path to Empire and Warlord States. Transnationalism, be it of the Progressive or Terrorist mode both give statements *justifying* their activities and both are highly emotionally charged with this idea of 'fairness of outcome'. These justifications are, however, NOT reasonable as they build nothing of value to enlighten humanity and seek, instead, to replace Nations that are Sovereign with a Group that is Sovereign. A NEW Nobility.
Simple... to the point of simplistic.
All of the wonderful *intentions* to have 'cease-fires' and 'temporary agreements' to 'build to larger agreements' and have 'international conferences' and finally 'give peace to the Middle East' is mere verbiage for: give up being a Nation, give up your rights as individuals, plea for rescue by those *who know better*, and use any advantage you can to break the Nation State apart. Is it any wonder that Pan Arabism and Islamic Fundamentalism both find sustenance in these roots? Or that the dreams of Islamic Fundamentalists are given broad scope to a desired outcome?
There is a name for Transnational Progressivism that is, in actuality, much older than this current formation. Where groups are administered *to* and the highest formulation of democracy is in group ascendancy. Where the interaction between groups is moderated by an enlightened or endowed group over them. Where individual perserverence and success is looked down upon and one must take only what one gets in life by birth.
That is the Dream of Nobility.
That is the Dream of Empire.
The sponsoring of these conceptions is the road BACK to Imperialism, back to Anointed Leaders of Wisdom by Birth, back to serfdom, back to slavery, back to all things which have been worked AGAINST for centuries.
For the IslamoFascistic Transnational Terrorists this new conception is the Caliphate ruled by a single Caliph or Warlord and the eradication of all other religions and *sects* within Islam with their own. al Qaeda seeks to put in place Wahabbist form and Iran seeks to put its break-away form of Shia into control. They can cooperate *now* to gain chaos and then settle their scores once that chaos is in-place.
The more Nationalist varieties of the scattershot of other sectarian IslamoFascists, be they Islamic Jihad of *wherever* to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, must *also* destroy the current formulation of their Nation States and weaken a broader supporting group of same to impose their will within the resultant chaos. Further, these groups are either ethnic based, see the Moros above, or they are Transnationalist group-affiliated, see the PLO, Islamic Jihad and various others that seek these ends of greater status between Nations by dissolving Nations to get their ends. To reach those ends the entire *structure* of Nation to Nation diplomacy and validity must be brought down.
There are other organizations that are *also* Transnational Terrorists with dreams of greater Empire. Shining Path in Peru is using Maoist conceptions of International Communism as their justificational basis for their actions. The FARC has goals of greater and more efficient streaming of illegal narcotics and other trafficking, including that of humans, and so must weaken Nations locally and remove international cooperation in activities against themselves so as to permit greater and larger free-flow of their goods. This is a virulent form of Criminal Capitalism, using the methodologies of terror to gain market share and to install fear of them in many places so as to increase profits by increasing output to market and decreasing overhead. Europe does not escape this, either, with the IRA and ETA being two examples of what appear to be totally indigenous terrorist organizations, until one realizes the high level of work and cooperation in and amongst terrorist organizations to help each other and remove the Sovereignty of Nations. Both of these organizations, while having facades of legitimacy, *also* practice this form of removing legitimate Government by illegitimate means because they are *minority* movement with no common appeal beyond 'the romantic fighter against the State' which was put forth by the first wave of Communists in the 1950's and 1960's.
This entire enclave of humanity that repudiates legitimate and civilized means and methods to gain ends makes those ends illegitimate in their activities. Even when there *is* a ruling council, you find that members often get to that point by being the last of a few contenders left alive after cross-assassination. Sometimes the actual meetings are held in multi-story buildings and the mode of personal defenestration comes into play: the last one in the room rules. It is rule by force.
For Transnational Progressivists and Terrorists this is the grand thing they both seek, and they will not stop at anything to get it. Islamic based Transnational Fascistic concepts of a 'Greater Ummah' faces the exact same problems that other groups have faced in doing this thing: the Theory and Practice Conundrum. These groups put forward justifications for their actions, but those actions, put into practice, lead to wholly different ends. In point of fact they have eschewed the actual goals put forward by their *own* guiding lights, be it Intellectuals or the Prophet or Mao or Stalin, and have put in-place something that leads backwards to a time BEFORE any of them. A time of darkness setting man against man based on primitive ideas of group and religion and ethnicity.
By seeking to destroy all normatives of Civilization these groups and individuals *forget* that it is that very Civilization that gives them the opportunity to think as they do. Once those norms are removed, the Civilization also goes with it and no matter what was espoused *before* that, all of these fine conceptions *require* that something of that Civilization be left behind for them to work with. The destruction that is being worked goes to the very ROOT of Civilization and removes all that has been built up to give us our current ways to live our lives. By seeking Global Chaos, new order will not readily appear unless it be Totalitarian in an attempt to install *any* form of Civilized behavior, even if it is that of the Fascistic Nation. That at least SAVES the concept of Nation which the Transnationalists are trying so hard to get rid of... and allows for the future of revolt, rebellion, making new government, raising a flag.... so that the hope of Liberty for Individuals can be kept going and reborn.
Unfortunately, in this complex and thoroughly inter-linked and connected world, once it starts to fly apart from its core, the rest of it will also fly off in all directions and collapse. Many people would try to liken this to a collapse of Civilizations previously, be it the Bronze Age collapse of the Mycenaean Greeks or the slow collapse of the Roman Empire from West to East, or even previous Hydraulic Empires in Egypt, the Tigris-Euphrates or elsewhere, there are those that will point out that mankind survived those collapses... and can survive this. That however, brings us up to the James Burke question: How do YOU survive this?
That is a loaded question because the ways of modern agriculture, modern plant breeding, modern insecticides, modern crop fertilization... all of those things which make Civilization possible will be the very first things to GO. They require a complex web of interactions in the realms of science, commerce, transportation, knowledge and manufacturing to even *exist*. Without THAT the modern world of one farmer supporting thousands if not tens of thousands of individuals *vanishes* and we are thrown back in a hard and fast way to pre-modern agriculture... and the sustainable world population THEN was far less than 1 Billion people.
Complaining that a War on Terrorism is like a war against dandruff is missing the point that this is also a War that is *for* Civilization and points out just how much the intellectual 'Elite' are divorced from the actual and real world, along with their 'real world community'. By looking at only a surficial and top layer of intellectualism, be it from Islamic or Socialist or Elitist outlook, the actual hard infrastructure of the world they seek to change is torn down.
And them with it if they can get that going.
The previous Nation State battles that led to World War were for how the ideology *of* Nation States within Nation States would be practiced *amongst* Nation States. Totalitarianism in an expansionist form was seen as a cancer that would, if unchecked, end up with an Empire and mass death from conquest and enforced starvation. The German and Japanese regimes took that a step or two further and eliminated some middle steps in that doing, but found their reach to exceed their grasp once they were opposed and that people willing to die *for* Nations would resist One People, One Nation, One Ruler. The dark mirror Cold War hid this even more stark fact: that standing up to Empire was not only necessary but ends in a huge body count due to modern forms of warfare.
Terrorists and Progressivists seek to keep that set of State based destruction by the side and, instead, pull down the entire structure of Nations that make such military effectiveness possible. These are barbarians seeking to tear down Civilization but without one bit of forethought to the fact that any ideology they espouse *requires* some form of this Civilization to be effective. And while these groups do attract intellectuals and people willing to give their lives up to such causes, they do not attract those that seek to actually BUILD things so that Individuals can make a better life for EVERYONE. Those individuals are targeted as the 'uncaring, unfeeling' enemy... and those few that *do* join up tend not to think to what highly idealistic goals actually *get* in return. They seek to address tactics.
The professionals, both in and outside the military, address logistics.
Logistics are cruel and not amenable to fantastic ideologies.
A Nation can use logistics to evil ends, but once all of the train operators have been put to death: who will make the trains run on time?