Terrorism Rooted in Social Injustices

Article excerpt

New questions, rules, institutions needed to redress grievances

Even while the death toll is mounting and it is not yet clear how many people have lost their lives in the horrific Sept. 11 terrorist acts, it is vital that we do not limit our discussion to the all-too-narrow view taken by many policy-makers and military experts. Terrorism should not be tolerated and is never justified; the perpetrators should be caught and tried, and security precautions must be taken so that pernicious acts of this kind do not recur. However, these measures are reactive rather than proactive. To eradicate terrorism we need to begin confronting its causes and not merely its symptoms.

Policy makers tend to trace the causes of terrorism to extreme ideology, whose proponents put to use the three Ts: technology, transnationalism and telecommunications. Technology refers to the availability of arms and related tools for carrying out terror. Transnationalism involves the movement of peoples with relative ease across borders, so that terrorists can train in one state, perpetrate their deed in another, and move to a safe haven in a third. Telecommunications is thought to promote terrorism because it guarantees a wider audience, and helps make terrorism a kind of political theater, in which people feel weak and vulnerable.

While the examination of ideology or technological developments is important, it will not disclose terrorism's root causes. Moreover, military operations, whatever they may be, will not able to strike a deathblow to international terrorism. This suggests that it is high time that we probe the topic from a fresh standpoint. …