I was browsing through some old documents of mine and came across a folder marked, “Senior.” My curiosity was piqued, so I opened the folder, and what assaulted my eyes was a major trip down nostalgia lane. I found some of the papers and literary analyses that I wrote during my senior year of high school. I read through some of them, and I found myself cringing at the naive writing and funny drama found within. Then I came across my senior term paper. My term paper was the longest paper I had written up to that point in my life, and it was poorly written in many regards. Regardless, I think it’s fun to look back and see my advances in research and writing. I wanted to share that paper with all of you. I have made zero edits to the paper. Everything is as it was written, grammatical and structure mistakes abound!
Internationally Blind about Terrorism
Victor Caminha is a native citizen of Brazil. After the horrible attacks on the World Trade Centers in 2001, Victor gave this sentimental speech in front of the United Nations Security Council:
My name’s Victor, and I am Brazilian. Even though I speak far from the U.S. and New York, the memories of the attack hurt me as much as any human being concerned with the tragic loss of innocent human lives. My eyes water and my heart throbs strongly while remembering the people who perished in the attacks, and their suffering family members. I do want to tell all of you that far away from the U.S., there are people who care and suffer when so much senseless destruction occurs. It’s about hope and sympathy as a gift for those who lost lives or a loved one. Death and suffering already occupies too much space in the news. I prefer that all loved ones are now flowers in the garden of Heaven. Not suffering or crying, but blooming blissfully and smiling for the love and sympathy we dedicate to them. May our tears water them to keep them smiling while knowing they are at peace (3).
September 11, 2001 affected not only the great people of this country, but the great people of the world. Terrorism was the known cause of the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. During 1945, people around the world talked about the Nazis and what they were doing in Europe. When 1955 rolled around, people around the world spoke of communism and the Cold War. As 1975 rounded the corner, Vietnam was the highest priority in the minds of the world. However, every day since the attack in 2001, terrorism is what the world talks about. John Pynchon Holms writes in his book Terrorism: Today’s Biggest Threat to Freedom, “Terrorism is the main focus of problems in the world today. Even much more so than HIV and smoking” (93).The media and spreading of rumors is a main cause of victory for terrorists. These two reasons alone are cause enough to have the international community, which has ignored the problem for decades, band together. However, the international community cannot act together against terrorism.
The major problem with the international community acting together is trying to understand the definition of an international community. The Britannica Encyclopedia defines international community as “everybody, everywhere, as a whole” (333). Or is the international community something else in the eyes of politicians? Benjamin Netanyahu, former American military specialist and former prime minister of Israel, says in his book Fighting Terrorism that “International community can mean many things. But, when it means fighting terrorism, only a few words can define it: together around the world” (63). In other words, international community must mean together, everywhere.
Another problem in trying to define how the international community can act together is trying to define terrorism. Netanyahu in his book simply states, “Terrorism simply means evil. The only way to even comprehend what terrorism means, one must look inside oneself and decide what is wrong and what is right” (1) Netanyahu also says, “Terrorism is a one cause to destroy freedom” (37) Holms states, “Some say God is a terrorist. He punishes and kills, rewards and pleases. So do all people. And all people are terrorists” (19). However, truly believing that everybody is a terrorist cannot be satisfactory. Knowing what terrorism is in the eyes of free democracies should then cause satisfaction. Benjamin Netanyahu speaks for each free person in his address to the Israeli people in 1996 at his “inauguration”:
Terrorism is rooted in the political ambitions and designs of expansionist states and the groups that serve them. Without the support of such states, international terrorism would be impossible. We cannot truly understand international terrorism unless we see it for what it truly is – a profound, political evil which the democracies must fight. The terrorist strike comes swiftly and without warning. And as the world watches in helpless horror, men, women, and children again become pawns in a bloody game of international blackmail. The main target of terrorism is the free, democratic world. That is what terrorism is. That is what needs to be fought (197).
Terrorism in today’s world springs from many places from throughout the world. Many of the terrorists that cause problems for free democracies today reside in the Middle East, which has harbored terrorists for thousands of years. In the early days of the Middle East, the ruling of Palestine, Israel, Judah, and Iraq changed more than 137 times. Maybe even Christ was a terrorist. He tried to persuade others into believing something else against the already free world (Holms 167). Solomon, David, Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, and the long list of Biblical men are all beginners of the terrorist movement (Holms 213). Logically, the Middle East should be the main focus as the fight against terrorism begins.
Now that the definitions of terrorism and international community have been confirmed, the combating of terrorism is the next key. With the current situation in Iraq escalating daily, the problem in the Middle East can once again be described as the worst. Although this is where the problem with terrorism truly lies, many different ways to combat terrorism exist. Terrorists are known for attempting to spread fear. In the eyes of a terrorist, when one person relays the message to ten people about how bad terrorism is, then the goal has been completed. David Long, a terrorism specialist, once said in Time magazine, “The absolutist ideologies espoused by terrorist groups reinforce the pressure to believe totally in the group and to suspend all critical judgment” (23). Long also believes that to be credible, an antiterrorism policy should reflect what is reasonably possible to accomplish with international cooperation (26). However, others, like President Bush, believes, “Fighting terrorism is like trying to find the stray mouse in your kitchen; you never have any idea where they are” (2).
Effective methods are available when combating terrorism. The most common way to fight terrorism internationally is by controlling the media. Part of the problem is the media and its image of itself (Long 119). The media’s response to terrorists’ attempts to exploit them has been extremely helpful for the spreading of fear for the terrorists (121). Manipulation of public opinion is in fact, central to the terrorist strategy. For this purpose, terrorists’ access to the media, indeed their domination, is indispensable. Indeed, terrorism would be impotent without publicity. Furthermore, attempting to combat terrorism is pointless unless the free world rejects the denial of terrorism. Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, a former United States Treasurer, said in Benjamin Netanyahu’s book, Fighting Terrorism, “Finding the courage to face the truth and speak about it is the first step toward the defeat of those would destroy our freedom and our world” (Cover). Needless to say, the free world cannot reject the denial of terrorism until the world is educated. Thus, education is the key to driving down the media.
Although these few attempts of combating terrorism seem effective, there are ways in which terrorism should not be fought at all. War seems to be the first thing done when a terrorist threat is put in front of a government. Netanyahu says, “you can’t just walk up and shoot all terrorists in the back; it involves more than that” (291). In Thomas Raynor’s book Terrorism: Past, Present, Future he presents a statistic pertaining to American deaths between 1950 and 2000. According to the statistics, 26% of deaths were from either military/war deaths, or that of a foreign “terrorist” murdering a human. War is not the answer to combating terrorism. Analysts and professionals in the field of terrorism would say that gathering the states of the world together, acting internationally, is the key. Benjamin Netanyahu however conveys his thoughts in the following line from his book: “The question of world state response to terrorism touches upon the essential problems of contemporary international law, such as the concepts of the non-use of force, aggression, reprisals, and self-defense. That is not the key to winning. Prevention is the key” (133). Another reason war is not the best answer is best stated in the United Nations Charter: Any state residing within the United Nations may not resort to the use of force internationally except for self-defense. (3) Any hesitation in action leads to the weakening of deterrence, a critical element in penology and essential to all punitive measures.
Attempts have been made in the past to combat terrorism. Saul Landau, terrorist evaluator for the White House, stated in his online book, Then and Now, “The terrorist’s strategy is premised on the ability to deliver future blows, no matter what. Our job is to stop it. That is why George Bush went into Iraq. That is why he did what he did” (66). Saul also believes that because western democracies have failed to unite together, seeing as the United States acted imperiously in Iraq, this is why freedom is so susceptible to attack (102). Desert Storm was one of the most recent “wars” in which somebody in the west attempted to put a stop to terrorism. Some attempts have been made, but terrorism is a little more complicated than that.
The real question here is how can the international community win? Benjamin Netanyahu believes we can win by teaming together in an organized way (19). David Long believes that terrorism always has its victims and always will, but, that will change with international cooperation (37). Everybody’s opinion draws up to one conclusion: the nations of the free world need to join in an international convention that would provide ways and means for cooperation against this latest form of international lawlessness. However, Michael Moran, Massachusetts State Representative in the Senate, during a press conference on what he wants to do about terrorism said, “Despite the tremendous growth of terrorism since 1979, these proposals of international cooperation have yet to be adopted. No matter what, there will be one country who thinks they can do it themselves” (12). The international community could win if they wanted to, they just choose not to (Raynor 14). This is why the international community needs to act together. Although it needs to be done, the chances of it actually happening are slim. Democracies must end the moral and intellectual confusion that has hobbled them about terrorism. These democratic governments owe it their citizens to make the distinction between what is right and what is wrong (Raynor 61). The international people must unite. However, as much as the level of interest is there, total unity is impossible because every country wants to be in power (Long 14). Terrorists must know that while the international cooperation in the community is not able to eradicate terrorism on to resolve every crisis successfully, it can make the costs of conducting terrorism prohibitively high. To win the war against terrorism, free societies must first know what they are fighting. The definition of terrorism rejects the absolutely the notion that “one man’s terrorist in another man’s freedom fighter” and presents clear ways of distinguishing terrorists. This offers in effect a litmus test for terrorism and its practitioners. All of this leads to the main point that terrorism can only be defeated by international cooperation. However, this cannot happen. Each country tends to have its own views and own imperial ways. Thus, it can easily be analyzed that terrorism will never be defeated.
On September 11, 2001, over 2000 people died because of the tyranny of terrorism (Netanyahu 31). The Middle East has been established as a harbor for terrorism. Terrorism has also been established as a cause to defeat freedom in the free societies around the world. These two facts are cause enough to step up and do what is necessary. The West is the target of terrorism because spiritually, its values are the direct antithesis of those of terrorism. In the democracies, legitimacy is derived from the consent on the governed. But for the terrorist, there are no such restraints on either legitimacy or power. Thus, the West should be the one to initiate the cooperative battle. However, the United Nations Charter specifically says that free democracies within the United Nations can only use violent force in self-defense. “It is impossible to declare war on terrorism,” says David Long (40). Unfortunately, that is the only alternative around the laws of the United Nations. Fighting and death has been the saddened victory in the world for thousands of years. Technically speaking, there are other ways to combat terrorism, but these ways will not diminish it. International cooperation is the key and this cooperation is impossible.
Finally, the problem of international terrorism was not as clearly understood in the 1970’s as it is beginning to be today. Few people recognized the real sources of its alarming growth. A need for a better understanding of terrorism and for mobilizing the West against it are among the major considerations among Western people, as well as free people. Terrorists gain along these lines and can best be prevented effectively be an alignment on the international level. Some believe it is impossible to combat when terrorism is inside every person. However, establishing what terrorism really is will be the key factor in defeating it. “Terrorist attacks” are usually characterized as “indiscriminate,” “targeting of civilians,” or executed “with disregard for human life.” The term “terrorism” is often used to assert that the political violence of an enemy is immoral, wanton, and unjustified. According to the definition of terrorism typically used by states, academics, counter-terrorism experts, and non-governmental organizations, “terrorists” are actors who don’t belong to any recognized armed forces, or who don’t adhere to their rules, and who are therefore regarded as “rogue actors”. Defeating these “rogue actors” should be the main purpose in free democracies although it is impossible to be done together. Priorities in this world should revolve around terrorism. Battles to end this tyranny should be raging all over the world. Although battles should be happening, the international community cannot work together. Thus, the cause is pointless.
Victor Caminha said, “I prefer that all loved ones are now flowers in the garden of Heaven. Not suffering or crying, but blooming blissfully and smiling for the love and sympathy we dedicate to them. May our tears water them to keep them smiling while knowing they are at peace” (3). Although the international community cannot act together, let tears that are shed for those victims of terrorism symbolize love, sympathy, and a right cause to fight what is wrong in the free world.