Terrorism's War with America: A History

Terrorism's War with America: A History

Terrorism's War with America: A History

Terrorism's War with America: A History

Synopsis

For most Americans, terrorism made the transformation from theoretical threat to frightening reality on September 11, 2001, yet America has been the target of terrorist acts for over four decades. Piszkiewicz recounts the changing political orientation of terrorists and highlights the challenge that faces America and the community of nations in putting terrorists out of business without adopting their tactics.

Excerpt

Terrorism is probably as old as war itself. Our ancestors made no distinction between warriors and civilians when it came to slaughtering the enemy. Modern humankind considered itself civilized and—at least theoretically—distinguished between combatants and noncombatants. the Geneva Conventions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries formalized the treatment of combatants and civilians, and those who committed terrorist acts were classified as war criminals. That construct served for dealing with a few dozen major villains of World War ii but has had limited utility since then. the terrorists of the second half of the twentieth century and the first years of the twenty-first were not aligned with warring nations; they were free agents fighting in relatively small groups against nations and governments.

From the late 1960s and through the 1970s, the nature of the war by the leftist causes against the established powers of the West changed. Communist-backed insurgencies gradually gave way to international terrorism. the enemy was no longer the Viet Cong or the indigenous communist parties of Central and South America. He had once worn black pajamas and a coolie hat, or he wore fatigues and smoked a cigar. Now the enemy was more likely to be dressed in mufti and carrying an assault rifle or driving a truck loaded with explosives. the names of the new enemy—those that became commonly known and elicited fear and hatred in the West—were no longer Patrice Lumumba, Ho Chi Minh, and Fidel Castro, but Muammar Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein, and Osama bin Laden.

Modern terrorism evolved in the late 1960s. the Western, capitalist countries saw a growing wave of bombings, kidnappings, murders, bank

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