How Globalization Spurs Terrorism: The Lopsided Benefits of "One World" and Why That Fuels Violence

By Fathali M. Moghaddam | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
The Psychological Citizen
and Globalization

Throughout much of the twenty-first century, we have become accustomed to listening to dramatic news about terrorist threats, plots, and bloody attacks, not only in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel, and other distant lands, but also in the United States, England, Spain, Denmark, and other western societies. Even though such news is now routinely part of our daily media diet, we tend to see the plotters and perpetrators of terrorism as something extraordinary, as inhuman and unnatural. How could it be otherwise? How could a suicide bombing be part of normal human experiences?

However, it is a profound mistake to set terrorist behavior apart from the rest of human behavior, to treat it as being in a completely different category. This is because twenty-first- century Islamic terrorism is extremist behavior that has evolved as part of collective reactions arising out of particular global circumstances, and is explained by the particular nature and extraordinary power of the twenty-first- century human context. Just as the behavior of U.S. military personnel in Abu Ghraib prison is explained by the characteristics and power of the context, rather than the “few bad apples” explanation offered by Donald Rumsfeld and others,4 terrorism has to be understood as a result of the larger context. Explanations for both torture committed by U.S. military personnel in contexts such as Abu Ghraib prison and terrorism emanating from Islamic communities, are in important ways linked, both rooted in how the behavior of individuals is shaped by context and authority.

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