Tolerating Terrorism in the West: An International Survey

By Noemi Gal-Or | Go to book overview

Introduction

Noemi Gal-Or


I

Terrorism has ceased to be an attraction. Political terrorism inflicted upon the international community, in particular terrorism in the western hemisphere since the late 1960s, has indeed become a routine ingredient of life in these societies. Initially, western societies were shocked by the rise of terrorism, a reaction which in the case of domestic terrorism has often been also transformed into indignation. Particularly in the young and vulnerable post-war democracies of the Federal Republic of Germany and Italy, governments were expected by the public to eradicate the problem once and for all. Yet, sharing with their people the burden and the memories of the not-so-distant outcomes of anarchy and terrorism and the consequent terrible slide into totalitarianism, these governments first reacted in confusion. Moreover, as if the challenge of domestic terrorism (the Red Army Faction in Germany or the Red Brigades in Italy) was not enough, these European target states were also soon forced to familiarize themselves with international terrorism, mainly originating in the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East.

For the UK, targeted by terrorists also, this was not a new encouner. There already existed a measure of mental preparedness, even institutional experience in dealing with ‘low intensity’ warfare or with political violence: not only in Ireland, but also in the overseas colonies.

The revival of modern terrorism in the Basque region of Spain occurred at a time when Spain was still ruled by the dictator, Franco, and this explains the unbending attitude to terrorism.

-xiii-

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