Fatal Future? Transnational Terrorism and the New Global Disorder

Fatal Future? Transnational Terrorism and the New Global Disorder

Fatal Future? Transnational Terrorism and the New Global Disorder

Fatal Future? Transnational Terrorism and the New Global Disorder

Synopsis

The nature and goals of terrorist organizations have changed profoundly since the Cold War standoff among the U.S., Soviet, and Chinese superpowers gave way to the current "polyplex" global system, in which the old rules of international engagement have been shattered by a new struggle for power among established states, non-state actors, and emerging nations. In this confusing state of global disorder, terrorist organizations that are privately funded and highly flexible have become capable of carrying out incredibly destructive attacks anywhere in the world in support of a wide array of political, religious, and ethnic causes. This groundbreaking book examines the evolution of terrorism in the context of the new global disorder. Richard M. Pearlstein categorizes three generations of terrorist organizations and shows how each arose in response to the global conditions of its time. Focusing extensively on today's transnational (i.e., privately funded and internationally operating) terrorist organizations, he devotes thorough attention to the two most virulent types: ethnoterrorism and radical Islamic terrorism. He also discusses the terrorist race for weapons of mass destruction and the types of attacks, including cyberterrorism, that are likely to occur in coming years. Pearlstein concludes with a thought-provoking assessment of the many efforts to combat transnational terrorism in the post-September 11 period.

Excerpt

It is a crisp, sunny morning in America’s heartland. The date is September 15, 1995. The place is the corner of Fifth and Robinson Streets, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I can see an enormous crater where a massive office building once stood. I also see the damage to nearby buildings, some of which appear near collapse. I can hear the bulldozers going about their grim work, the soft weeping of bystanders. I can touch the rubble, the fence festooned with poetry, prayers, and toddlers’ sneakers. I can smell the diesel exhaust, the dust, the indescribable smells of disaster. It is nearly five months since the Oklahoma City bombing. I have never personally witnessed a scene such as this. Terrorism is no longer an abstract academic topic to me—it is a reality.

It is a warm, clear, and bright afternoon in America’s largest city. The date is July 31, 2002. The place, a viewing platform along lower Manhattan’s Church Street, is adjacent to a site now known simply as Ground Zero. I can see a sixteen-acre crater where mighty twin skyscrapers— once the most recognizable image of New York City—and other buildings once stood. Upon that crater stands a simple makeshift cross composed of rusty steel girders. I again see the damage to nearby buildings— dusty, abandoned skyscrapers now shrouded by dark meshlike material. An enormous American flag and a banner conveying words of eternal remembrance for the victims, their families, and the city’s gallant rescue workers are sewn to one of those shrouds. I also see hundreds of other visitors: a large church group from Portugal, a cluster of Muslims reading passages from the Quran, an impeccably dressed young businessman who clutches his briefcase and leans against the metal fence. Was he a friend or loved one of one of the nearly three thousand souls who perished here? Had he, long ago, resolved to make a daily visit to this now-hallowed ground? I do not know, and I cannot bring myself to ask. I can hear the Portuguese church group praying and singing, the Muslims softly murmuring their prayers. Again I touch the . . .

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