Understanding terrorism

ROSES AND THORNS - Alejandro R. Roces -
Brian Jenkins, program director of the security and subnational conflict of the Rand Corporation, made this significant statement on understanding terrorism:

"But what is terrorism? As a pejorative, the word can be a political weapon, and it is so used in international debate. If one party can successfully attach the label terrorist to its opponent, then it has indirectly persuaded others to adopt its moral viewpoint.

"This has led to the cliché that one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter. The phrase implies that there can be no objective definition of terrorism, that there are no universal standards of conduct in peace or war. While recognizing the diversity of views on terrorism, this cliché must be opposed.

"Most nations have identified, through law, modes of conduct that are criminal, among them homicide, kidnapping, threats of life, the willful destruction of property. Even war has rules outlawing the use of certain tactics.

"If terrorism is defined by the nature of the act then, not by the identity of the perpetrators or the nature of their cause, an objective definition of terrorism becomes possible. All terrorist acts are crimes. Many would also be violations of the rules of war, if a state of war existed. All involve violence or the threat of violence, often coupled with specific demands. The targets are mainly civilians. The motives are political. The actions generally are designed to achieve maximum publicity. The perpetrators are usually members of an organized group, and unlike other criminals, they often claim credit for the act. (This is a true hallmark of terrorism.). And, finally, it is intrinsic far beyond the immediate physical damage. One person’s terrorist is everyone’s terrorist."

Today, reading the news is reading about terrorism and it is the world over. We always looked at Bali as our concept of man-made paradise. We had the honor and privilege of having accompanied President Diosdado Macapagal in his state visit to Bali. We were so touched by the beauty and the customs of everything that we saw that we made the now-very-often repeated quip, "After you see Bali, you can die." Now terrorists have changed that to "See Bali and die!" The worst aspect of today’s terrorism is that it is totally senseless. The best proof is that the perpetrators themselves never own their act and do not even say why they inflicted such an atrocity on helpless people. It is pure evil for evil’s own sake.











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