Imperceptibly the world balance of power is being changed by a new, and as yet, hardly recognizable, form of warfare that may replace the more familiar ones. It is that of terrorism, which is developing and spreading under the umbrella of the nuclear stalemate, as neither of the two realistic superpowers want to be simultaneously annihilated by the other. During the present nuclear blackmail period, both superpowers have supported, indirectly or otherwise, “alternative” forms of warfare, ranging from the conventional, as in the Arab-Israeli War of October 1973, to the guerrilla type, as in Vietnam, in an effort to spread their individual power and influence and to balk those of their opponent; such wars, however, tend to escalate, and with escalation comes the danger of nuclear war brought on by accident, loss of nerve, or chagrin.
Terrorism, politically motivated, carefully planned, and shrewdly directed, may provide a substitute means of dominating situations that normally could only be influenced by the use of regular armed forces. The new concept is that nations, governments, and peoples might be terrorized into compliance or complacency. While the full potential of organized terrorism has yet to be realized, spasmodic evidence of its potency stares us in the face almost daily. Skyjacking aircraft, seizing hostages and sometimes killing them, causing explosions with loss of life, and political murders have become commonplace. Incidents such as the massacre of the Israeli athletes at the World Olympic Games in 1972 seem to belong to the realm of far-fetched fiction, rather than reality. But modern technology enables tiny groups to wield gigantic powers of destruction, and while Guy Fawkes had to laboriously move thirty-six barrels of gunpowder, today the terrorist travels light, using submachine guns, grenades, and easily transportable plastic explosives. If he does not want to travel at all, he can use the postal service to send letter-bombs to unsuspecting victims.
Until a few years ago, the pattern of terrorism seemed to be a random one with terrorists grouping together for a common political aim (terrorism for criminal purposes is not considered here), usually being of the same nationality, race, or persuasion. These included national resistance groups, extremist Zionists in Palestine, the Arab fedayeen in the Middle East, the
Note: This article was printed in East-West Digest, June 1976.