- Posted September 23, 2013 by
Watertown, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
- Congress, Get Off the U.S. Post Office's Back! Small Business Needs Them
- Obamacare, U.S. Foreign Policy, Immigration and Our Economy- Journalism’s First Responsibility Is To Tell UsThe Truth
- Labor's "Surrender Monkeys"-23,000 People Have Applied For 600 Low-Wage Positions
- Iranian Sanctions Never Hurt Iran's Government; They Hurt Iran's People
- Democrats Hold Our Leadership Accountable, Republicans Don't
Why Do Terrorists Attack Innocent People? The New Transcendent Terrorist
Does anyone understand why we see this happen to innocent people? What political gain do the terrorists hope to achieve? And it's not always for a political gain but to punish a specific group for what the terrorist believes has been done by that group to them.
We've had these events now in the World we live in for some time.
It's hard to understand evil. Is it enough to simply know that it exists.
Will people begin to resign themselves to constant senseless violence, as the President said today as he addressed a group at the Naval Yard in Washington DC after many lost their lives there?
The shopping mall incident is just another act in a long list of acts that give us pause to reflect and wonder if there's something we are missing.
Why do terrorists attack those that many of us see as having nothing to do with the policies that terrorists are opposed to?
Why don't the cowards strike back at the policy makers or those that have attacked them?
Maybe it would be helpful to have a definition of terrorism and in doing so, better understand who these people are and why they act in the way that they do toward innocents.
Maybe they don't see us as so innocent. Maybe they see us as complicit in our government's decisions.
Maybe they have no reason at all but that they hate people unlike themselves. There's too much of that in today's World.
Here's an interesting commentary I found while trying to understand this terrorism phenomenon.
"One blind spot still blocks the Western lens in the war against terror.
There remains no official definition of "terrorism."
The need for such a definition was affirmed by representatives of over 150 countries at a UN conference held in October 2001 on:
"What is Terrorism?"
They came armed with prior resolutions that ban terrorism in any context, no matter its grievance or goal. But the delegates argued that in order to isolate and criminalize the act itself, they would need to identify it. Otherwise, future thugs who massacre innocent civilians could argue that their case is somehow different, or somehow justified by context.
They could claim:
"One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."
Yet the member states could not agree on a definition. Officials like U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher argued that there was no need for one: U.S. law (and arguably UN resolutions) already boasts formulations of terrorism.
Like their English and Canadian counterparts, however, these standard interpretations can be shown to be inadequate for capturing the most dangerous new breed of terror.
They stem from the traditional Western doctrine. For decades, the West has been gripped by an orthodoxy that holds that all terrorists act for political purposes.
Violence occurs to advance some cause or redress some political grievance. Hence, all definitions of terrorism in American and English law include clauses like "to achieve a political end."
In other words, terrorists are just like everyone else, with political ambitions and strategic designs, except that they will resort to terrible deeds to achieve their goals.
This view has consequences: it means that terrorists could be thwarted either by appeasing their grievances or by frustrating their political strategies. But recent events have exposed a phenomenon that has long eluded Western minds: the transcendent terrorist.
Like their political counterparts, these killers seek to cut off as much innocent life as possible, maiming where they fail to kill, hurting where they fail to maim, and spreading anguish and suffering with abandon.
Unlike other terrorists, however, their murders are not directly calculated to achieve their political aspirations (though they may have many of them). Rather, they act for religious or symbolic ends, or in the name of an ideology that transcends the immediate, earthly consequences.
Their terror fulfills a value in its own right, like striking at an enemy deemed inherently unholy: transcendent terror.
These are clearly the most dangerous of terrorists.
Changes in policy or deterrence are useless against such murderers, because they often are driven by something beyond practical outcomes and are not afraid to die.
Yet they are also the ones who lie outside the scope of nearly all existing statutes, definitions, and accounts of terror.
What follows is an attempt to expose and correct this misconception, which plagues both the definition and the understanding of terrorism in the West, and particularly in the U.S.
These views need to be updated if they are to capture the reality of the transcendent terrorist.
Current Definitions Fall Short
It is certainly possible to define terrorism in a manner that incorporates transcendent terror, as well.
One could focus on the following feature: violence directed at civilians identified with a distinct community, be it religious, political, or ethnic. That, in fact, is what all terrorism has in common.
But a close look at statutes meant to prohibit this behavior reveals a lot of room for violators to slip through the cracks.
For example, a UN resolution prohibits, inter alia: "Any other act intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to a civilian, or to any other person not taking an active part in the hostilities in a situation of armed conflict, when the purpose of such act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a Government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act."
Where this definition falls short is its failure to include anyone who commits acts like the September 11 attack, but without such ambitions as intimidation or coercion. Yet the evidence suggests that at least some of the hijackers acted out of a feeling of divine imperative or opposition to the U.S. as "the enemy of Allah," without regard to political achievements.
Does that mean they are not terrorists?
The difficulty goes beyond mere semantics. Definitions that tie terrorism to particular aims serve to reinforce the notion that the act itself -- the deliberate murder of innocent civilians just for being American, for example -- could actually be justified if different, perhaps worthy, goals were at play.
Possible exceptions include a mass murderer who acts out of revenge, or to call attention to a legitimate plight.
Those who bomb abortion clinics are often called "terrorists," but this definition would exclude them, too: they do not seek to pressure a government or necessarily to intimidate a nation. They may seek simply to strike at the "evil" doctors.
Many countries seem plagued by this inability to define terrorism beyond specific political objectives. India, for example, defines it as follows: "acts done by using weapons and explosive substances or other methods in a manner as to cause or likely to cause death or injuries to any person or persons or loss or damage to property or disruption of essential supplies and services with intent to threaten the unity and integrity of [the state] or to strike terror in any section of the people."
Western countries are especially prone to such limited definitions.
England and Canada both have introduced a view on the meaning of "terrorism" in their own legislatures, and they focus only on terrorism with a "purpose" or an "objective," usually political."
The Limited American View