Jon was the guest on our terrorism episode, which has unfortunately become timely again. In light of the events in Boston he was asked to write about the nature of modern terrorism in the Huffington post; read the article here. As he did in our episode, he stresses in the article the need to rationally understand the nature of modern terrorism in order to respond to it effectively:
Several fundamental concepts should guide anti-terrorist policies. When not used as a tactic in guerrilla war, terrorism is essentially a problem for law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Military force should be used sparingly and in support of law enforcement. There is no psychological pattern of a terrorist and no single path to radicalization. Rather, all types of people follow multiple trails to terrorism. One of the best tools in the anti-terrorist arsenal is to develop law enforcement agencies that act as extensions of neighborhoods. These agencies can root out all types of problems before they happen, including terrorism... Finally, it would be helpful if the mass media, especially cable news, would spend time explaining the complex background of modern terrorism. This would be much more responsible than breathlessly awaiting the next stage in a terrorist drama.
Jon was also gracious enough to get permission from his publisher to share about 20 pages from near the beginning of his book Terrorism and Homeland Security where he deals with the definition of terrorism. Note that he does, here, discuss states that use terrorism, and not just individuals. There's even a section titled "Another Perspective" about Noam Chomsky. Jon gives some historical definitions and then also gives a tactical typology that places various actions on a spectrum from simply criminal activity to political activity with a corresponding type of response (i.e. law enforcement, law augmented with military force, military).
This book excerpt is now posted on the Free Stuff for Citizens. Sign up to go read it.
Chomsky’s position isn’t merely ‘another perspective’, to be portrayed as a component of a multifaceted dialogue comprised of equal sides devoid of a power imbalance. His position on terrorism is correct precisely because he, as anyone who is honest with themselves about the politics of power and privilege, understands that states like the U.S. retain an international hegemony over the rest of the planet based on state-capitalist interests. With this comes structural adjustment policies which starve out billions of people so massive corporations can move in and expand capitalist spaciality. Naturally people who are constantly bombarded with bombs and bullets at the hands of the west and whom are backed into a corner where they are literally starving to death or watching their families being murdered and raped, resort to what White calls ‘modern terrorism’. This is only one side of the coin though, as it what be slightly disingenuous to ignore the fact that the only reason these oppressed folk have access to this machinery is precisely because the U.S. and other colonial empires have planted this machinery in the hands of the former intent on having the neo-colonized kill themselves off while the empire rakes in the resources and wealth from the neo-colonized state.
And this applies in a microcosmic fashion to the U.S. domestically. The state pours hundreds of billions into militarizing the U.S. state itself so that it can keep health careless, starving, racially profiled, ‘wrongfully’ convicted, downtrodden oppressed folk within it’s own borders in place.
The west has no problem with terrorism, as it is the chief purveyor of it, so long as it is directed at the oppressed. However, as soon as the guns are pointed at the right people, all of a sudden the state has to contend with the fact that eventually its plans of repression would slowly start to backfire on it.
Wow. “As soon as the guns are pointed at the right people?” Consider dropping the rhetoric if you want to have a serious conversation.