On Bombers and Security

What makes something an act of terrorism rather than simply a mass murder? At the simplest level, it’s the intent to cause terror, to impose disruptive fear on people. Even if a terrorist act doesn’t cause any deaths, it succeeds if it engenders exceptional fear.
 
So why aren’t civil authorities working to combat fear, rather than undertaking the ultimately fruitless task of shoring up an inevitably imperfect security? If they invest in preventing incidents, they are guaranteed to fail; if they invest in diminishing panic, they can alleviate the effect of past incidents and even disarm the terrorists, not by eliminating per impossibile their access to guns and explosives, but by reducing their actions to unromantic criminal acts. If they can’t prevent incidents, they can help prevent terror. Doesn’t that make more sense?

5 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Fear of an outward enemy causes the people of a nation to band together. Now, of course, this is the same strategy used by fascist dictators–i.e. Hitler. Fear also keeps people cowed, less likely to question. At least that is what the conspiracy theorist in me says.

  2. The mejia, as they say. The British popular press would whip themselves into a frenzy if politicians pointed out the numbers who die on the roads, and the tiny numbers killed in terrorist attacks. The politician who did it would the most irresponsible ever to walk the planet. So it cannot be said. It is politically better to lend support to terrorism.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly, AKMA.

    Terror – undoubtedly felt by some of the few who knew something was amiss in this particular instance, is spread by the media. No matter the motivation, i.e. be it targeted, newsworthy, or in support of a popular or unpopular ’cause’, it sells. Millions are then left asking, “What if I fly and one of these crazies decides to blow himself up and take all of us with him? I mean, it seems they’re doing it all the time.”

    Fear, or a deep-seated and floating anxiety, is then fostered for broad political gain through – again in this particular instance, statements threatening war against and committing further troops to Yemen, a country riven by internecine strife and already subject to U.S. military involvement and destabilization.

    Fear debilitates citizenries and, in a ‘take and take’ global economy, suits an increasingly distant and indifferent elite.

    What of the real rather than the criminal acts of terror, e.g. the calculatedly indiscriminate terror born of bombing cities and towns, torturing thousands of off-the-street individuals, dead-of-night door-to-door neighborhood raids, death-by-lottery checkpoints, the presence of jittery ‘occupiers’, and the use of horrific, internationally-banned weaponry?

    That is terror and the very real fear felt by millions that these acts or horrors might realistically befall or be visited upon them in the near term – with either death or mental or physical mutilation resulting, is carried out across the globe – in the name of ‘God’, ‘freedom’, ‘duty’, and myriad other abused entities.

    Who, I ask, are the terrorists? I guess we know the answers.

    Presently, it appears there is no large-scale conventional ‘terror organization’ operating anywhere but in Africa (the LRA in the DRC). However, there’s a great deal of fear about. It take the form of fears of financial insecurity, scarcity, natural disaster, foreclosure, job loss, ageing, disease, a lack of medical cover, and myriad other media-touted insecurities. When the mass media survive by moving from one manufactured cataclysm to another, people are inevitably going to be left feeling, “What’s – and who’s – next?”

    Fear always puts us next in line for a visit by disaster. Helping or supporting those beset by such disasters destroys fear and renders terror powerless.

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