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Don't look for logic in terrorism

Analyzing some pseudo-scientific, pseudo-realistic and outright fallacious phrases that have taken root in the Israeli discourse on terrorism.

Published: 08.25.14, 00:26 / Israel Opinion

• No democracy has beaten terrorism.

On the contrary - no terrorist organization has beaten democracy. Sometimes the struggle lasts for years, and the terrorist organization may manage to survive by shifting its shape and using terror to harrass, but democracy has always prevailed.

 

 

Democracy merely appears to be weak, only seems to be led by politicians of compromise. But ultimately democracy's power is in creation of a voluntary consensus, and no dictatorship can produce that, and certainly not a terrorist organization. Democracy has always defeated and will always defeat terrorism.

 

• A terrorist organization acts very rationally. It's only liberal thinking does not know to decipher its codes.

On the contrary – irrationality is in the genetic code of a terrorist organization, even if it functions as a so-called institution. One would have to jump through hoops to rationally explain most of al-Qaeda's attacks, from 9/11 onwards. There is not one drop of sense to be found in an assessment of the costs and benefits of the attacks from the perspective of al-Qaeda itself.

 

Innovative methods used by terrorist movement create an illusion of rationality. Satellite phones and the like only camouflage the absolute control that passions, impulses, and primarily superstitions have over terrorist organizations.

 

• Outcasts, the poor and the destitute are the first recruits into the ranks of a terrorist organization.

On the contrary - the leadership and the command of terrorist organizations is predominantly made up of educated people, who came from the middle classes, including property owners and those with a higher education (or part of one). The profile of a real terrorist is not an image of a man or a woman who had nothing to lose; rather, they had a lot to lose, but they gave it up for the sake of delusional terrorist ideology.

 

• Terrorist organizations cannot exist without the active support of the local population.

On the contrary - most terrorist organizations begin with campaigns of intimidation and terror among the surrounding population, because they do not rely on it for anything. Using brutal terrorist measures against the local population will occur for as long as the terrorist organization operates. Therefore, the afflicted local population actually longs for its removal, and over time also works toward that goal.

  

• Terrorist groups operate as a network composed of cells; eliminating their commanders will not affect them.

On the contrary - recent studies of the structure and layout of terrorist organizations yielded a different set of findings: The terrorist organization is almost completely dependent on the personalities of two or three of its leaders. The command and control system of a terrorist organization is closer to a totalitarian dictatorship. The word of the leader is translated into orders by the small group surrounding him, and there is absolutely no questioning his word, not even for one moment. The skeptical are immediately killed by a kangaroo court.

 

Strip a terrorist organization of its charismatic leader, and you paralyze the confidence of his acolytes and critically impair its ability to function for a long period of time, perhaps even forever.

 

 

• Behind every terrorist organization usually stands a national liberation movement, and therefore there is a need to engage with it as soon as possible.

On the contrary, and very much so. While national liberation movements occasionally need to appear as terrorist-like in nature in order to achieve their policy objectives, they shed their terror identity when those goals are achieved, even partially.

 

Terrorist movements, however, are only concerned with terrorism: Their goals, aide from sowing terror, are phrased in absolute terms from the outset, and are clearly unrealistic. Terrorism is what defines them, terrorism is the magnet that draws their recruits to them, and therefore there is no reason in negotiating with them, as opposed to the logic of entering into dialogue with national liberation movements.

 

 

No terrorist organization has ever triumphed over democracy, as stated - but neither has a democracy ever beaten a movement for national liberation or liberation from occupation. And that is the difference that one must understand and remember.

 

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