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).