Magazine article The Nation

Terror Mystique

Magazine article The Nation

Terror Mystique

Article excerpt

Terror Mystique

Two weeks after the massacre in Istanbul's Neve Shalom synagogue and the day after French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac announced tougher anti-terrorism measures, a bomb exploded inside Paris police headquarters. Despite the terrorists' successful act of defiance, dealing with the waves of political violence that have most recently erupted in the French capital remains primarily a job for the police. There are no sovereign remedies waiting to be tried, and it may be that the malady must simply run its course.

Strict disciplinarians argue that violent punishment against real or symbolic terrorists will deter further horrors, but events clearly indicate just the opposite. Pragmatic liberals hope that patient diplomacy can eliminate the grievances that give rise to desperate acts of protest, but the list of urgent issues for resolution is so long and the prospects for settlement of most of them so dim that no one should reasonably expect an easy way out of the mess. Short-term improvements in security can save lives, but the United States and other nations can avoid making matters worse with wanton acts of revenge or opportunistic examples of retaliation. The Reagan Administration has surely aggravated the problem with its attacks on Libya, its partisan participation in the Israeli occupation of Lebanon and its hypocritical refusal to acknowledge the political context of terrorism in one region, while it funds and commands terrorists in several other parts of the world. …

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