Fighting the Unprecedented Dilemma of Terrorism

By Ivanov, Sergey B. | Hampton Roads International Security Quarterly, April 15, 2007 | Go to article overview

Fighting the Unprecedented Dilemma of Terrorism


Ivanov, Sergey B., Hampton Roads International Security Quarterly


As Secretary Gates has just said two spies have already spoken, and spoken bluntly. I wonder what you would expect from a third one. I'm afraid like an old music box I will speak not very originally and not something new, because I was asked by Horst to speak about terrorism and since I'm here for the seventh year in a row, I do remember, I started speaking about terrorism in 2001 before September 11. I remember that. Anyway, I'll try to speak bluntly when you put your questions.

From year to year the civilized world is becoming more and more concerned about the problems on fighting international terrorism. These issues are attracting much attention of our international forum as well. We used to speak about terrorism as a local event, but since early 1990s it has developed into a worldwide phenomenon. As a rule, today's terrorist attacks are planned and prepared in one country, financed in another and carried out in a third one.

It is safe to say that terrorism has transformed into a large- scale and complex social and political phenomenon of international life. However, for a variety of reasons, international community has failed to work out generally recognized legal definition of terrorism in spite of lengthy debates and discussions on that issue. In particular, the General Assembly of the United Nations has adopted a number of resolutions on international terrorism, but failed to give more or less acceptable definition of terrorism. So, we're discussing for ten years minimum fighting terrorism and still there is no definition of it.

The most dangerous tendency in expansion of this threat is that modern terrorist groups and their sponsors successfully develop, expand and build up their ideological and propaganda arsenal. In other words, de facto, they wage an information war against the world civilization. At that, they aggressively and quite skillfully take advantage of non-effectiveness and separation of the countries and the public in counteraction of terrorism.

Russia plays an active role in international counterterrorism efforts. St. Petersburg G8 Summit chaired by Russia last year made notable decisions and adopted certain resolutions on counterterrorism which defined the key directions for present and perspective interaction in this sphere. Russia has an experience to share with its partners on how to improve national counterterrorism legislation. The most important decision in this context is a creation of national counterterrorism committee which has already encouraged both more effective counterterrorism actions taken inside Russia and its wider contribution to international intelligence cooperation.

There is a strong ground to expect a growing wave of large-scale terrorist attacks. That is why we face a complicated and unprecedented dilemma on how to effectively react to those attacks within the frames of international law and our liberal democratic values. As a matter of fact, armed forces specially prepared and equipped to carry out conventional high intensity combat actions are not always perfect for standoff in armed conflicts involving criminal and nationalist elements as well as international terrorism. …

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