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Without passion, Louise Richardson presents a factual and in-depth study of what makes terrorists and terrorism exist. Unlike a great many pundits who think they know what terrorism is, this author speaks with authority.
First of all, she contends that you cannot have a war on terror. To her, it is a war on a tactic, a fear that is a war on an emotion. She insists that you cannot wage a war on either. As long as anyone can commit a terrorist act, it debunks any contention that such a war is being won.
The author declares that terrorists seek three essential elements to their acts: revenge, renown, and reaction. In the destruction of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Flight 93 in Shanksville, PA, they achieved all three. Richardson explains that all terrorists and their organizations seek revenge for a humiliation or defeats real, imagined, and unknown to us. By declaring a "War on Terrorism and al-Qaeda we provided them with renown. By pursuing a war in Afghanistan and Iraq and by giving them Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo we gave them a reaction beyond their wildest dreams. "by using the extreme language of conviction that bin Laden uses, by declaring war, even a crusade, against him in response to his war against us, we are mirroring his actions. We are playing into his hands...elevating his stature...permitting him to set the terms of our interactions."
For terrorism to succeed, terrorists require personal dissatisfaction, an enabling society and legitimizing ideology. Their personal dissatisfaction comes from our support of Israel beating them time and again with US built weapons, killing of their civilians, and occupation of their lands. According to Richardson, being the only superpower and having the most influence in the world, also incurs their enmity.Read more ›
This is without question one of a handful of books that must be read by anyone who is serious about neutralizing terrorism as a tactic, avoiding the incitement of more terrorism, and acting professionally and morally around the globe. Sadly, that does not include the neo-conservatives who substitute dogma for reality, and war profiteering for peacemaking.
An excellent book by someone who has studied terrorism since long before 9/11.
Starting with a deep understanding of how terrorist groups form and why people join them, she works her way to advice on crafting policy (For example, rather than determining whether a given policy is hard on terrorism or soft on terrorism, she recommends asking "Is it effective? And at what cost?") culminating with a list of six "rules for combatting terrorism".
A must read for anyone who wants to advocate for change!
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As a contrasting definition of terrorism this book seems a sane approach compared to that of Noam Chomsky in his various books on terrorism. Not to confuse terrorism as an ism with terror as in fright. Chomsky targets all terror causing actions in his scope of the definition which automatically puts those who control the most power as the worst terrorists. Louise Richardson instead describes the causes of terror, the history of terrorist movements, the relationship of terror to things like religion and economics, politics and education, and shows the connections that may be most helpful in dealing with terrorism and what causes it. So compared to Noam I would go with Louise as being the most fruitful in her approach. Clearly being a linguistics professor and being a terrorism specialist results in different approaches. I have to note that Chomsky did not even rate a citation in this book. And for good reason.
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