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March 21, 2007



The purpose of terrorism is to produce terror in order to get people and especially governments to overreact.

Close, but no banana. Sorry to say, the purpose of terrorism is nothing to do with the terrorised.

The purpose of terrorism is to build support on the home front. It works this way: A ratbag bunch of radicals starts a toy army, and coalesce around a believable promise (John Robb says more about this).

Then, they need to build a support base. In order to build a support base they need to create activity. They can only build a support base if they can show the people that they mean business, and can survive and kick arse.

So to do this they need big bang-for-buck attacks. They can't attack the occupying army because that gets their arses kicked, it is small-cracker-for-big-bucks.

SO they shift to dramatic media attention. They use the media to create a sense of a massive attack, focussing on very small investments against a lightly guarded civilian target. What we call terrorism, they call a cheap press release.

With a series of these, then can show the folks back home that they mean business -- the media response -- and therefore they deserve the support. With the support, the terrorists graduate to the next phase: guerilla army.

Your conclusions however are dead right: Don't overreact. Especially, don't play to their game, and take the fight to them as an army-to-army battle. That rewards them with promotion from terrorists to soldiers.


Iang, I think we've been around on this before. Everything you say is correct, except the more we act terrorized and overreact, the more the terrorists get their press release magnified and the more homies sign up for their cause. In other words, scaring the ferengi is how the terrorists get their biggest bang for their buck. Plus the more we overreact, the more our stock goes down in the eyes of the world, and the better the perpetrators look to their locals. And if we overreact to the tune of invading some countries, the chances of producing more terrorists go way up. So you and I are in agreement; you're just spelling out a detailed picture that leads to what I said.

See also this editorial by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Terrorized by 'War on Terror':



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