OK, I’ve been giving some thought, and I think I’ve got a handle on The Root Causes of Terrorism. Just why do people turn to terrorism to achieve their goals?
1) It’s simple. It has an ease and ready accessibility that essentially any group, of any size, can pull off a “terrorist” attack with very limited resources.
2) It’s flashy. Terrorism is “the new coolness.” It gets a lot of attention, very quickly.
3) It’s empowering. The one element that all terrorist groups have, at the start, is far more passion than power. They care a great deal about their cause, but they simply can’t get anything done through more legitimate means. So they start getting violent, to increase their profile and extend their power.
4) It’s deniable. If a government wants something done, but doesn’t want to risk the backlash of doing it openly themselves, they can try to get some “terrorists” to do it for them. This way, they can stand back and say “tsk, tsk” when something bad happens that benefits them.
5) It’s cheap. Modern weapons and training cost far, far more than an average individual or group can afford. But bomb belts probably cost less than a couple of hundred dollars to make. Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols put together the Oklahoma City truck bomb on their average salaries.
6) It’s tough to fight. A long time ago, a bunch of countries laid out a set of rules for warfare. These rules were designed to, among other things, minimize the number of civilians killed in war. In exchange for some serious restrictions on what combatants could do, large groups of people, institutions, and buildings were declared “off limits.” The terrorists systematically look at those restrictions and use them as guidelines for how to best attack our forces.
Many people look at the terrorist attacks within the United States and wonder why it’s happening. I look at the above and wonder why there haven’t been more.
I realize this is only half a piece, but it’s getting a bit long already. I’m working on a second piece, discussing possible ways to fight terrorism.