The Long-Term International Context of Terrorism
THE LONG-TERM significance of international terrorism for the United States and other countries cannot be treated in isolation from the broadest social, economic, political, and cultural situation of the world as it presents itself. Terrorism as a specific form of conflict is simultaneously an expression and a microcosm of that situation, and its likely future cannot be estimated without reference to the larger scene. Accordingly, this chapter offers several broad lines of diagnosis of the recent past, present, and likely future world situation, and extracts several conclusions from that diagnosis. Most of the analysis concerns the context for international terrorism rather than terrorism in general. This contextual assessment begins with the issue of international power and proceeds from there, because terrorism is above all else a political force, deriving from the political configuration of the contemporary world. The assessment, however, must also respect the historical dimension and include reference to economic and cultural factors.
of the Cold War
As the cold war came to an end, an apparently unprecedented era of international history emerged. Much of the novelty of the international situation derives from the particular international supremacy of the United States. As one might expect, the years since 1990 have produced a veritable spate of diagnoses, evaluations, and predic-