A More Realistic Version of the Threat of TerrorismI just finished watching the "Conversation with History" with Robert A Pape titled:
The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism.
I don't doubt his book is worth the read, but in lieu of that, this conversation holds some extremely valuable and mind blowing (I thought that might be a pun, but decided not to call it) insights based on some of the first research of its kind about suicide terrorism. If not up for the book, I recommend at least reading the interview at the above link, or watch a Google video I found:
The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism
As a preface to the video, I'd like to make the following comments: Descriptively, when the catastrophic event we now call 911 occurred, the Bush Administration had at least two fairly prominent, identifiable groups in an advisory capacity -- the realists and the idealist. The Neocons were the geostrategic idealists and they won their case about IR policy, however they won it -- there can be plenty of discussion about that.
In place was the still expensive, still self perpetuating military industrial complex. The notion that the military could promote democracy faster in the Arc of Instability is embedded in the Neoconservative ideology, where the realists are less concerned with the need for immediate gratification on that score, and much more sensitive to keeping down the roiling of emotions and political struggles that resort to violence, so that sensible neoliberalism policies begun with some real earnestness during the Reagan Administration can go forth, promoting its form of elite democracy, which some, especially those in populist democratic movements in South America, refer to as "polyarchy." That's where prime examples of the wealthy elite are offered to the rabble for selection. Basically what's evolved here in the past 150 years, or so.
Realists, like Robert Pape, referenced above, video interview below, would simply look at the causes of these terror acts and find strategies that they hope will not inflame the likes of the Ossama bin Ladens and move on. The idealists are looking at the scene more like it's a strategic computer game, and the human beings are bots in the game. Thus considerations of culture, human beings and their interactions and so forth aren't that key to the programming, and the strategy doesn't include such trivialities.
What makes that the case? Well, we get into cultural ideologies, the mythos and the way that can be manipulated through all sorts of storytelling, not the least of which is an event like the recent Super Bowl and the little mini stories that flash in and out called commercials.
We can talk about what to do about that in an abstract sense, but the details of it, that permeate each person's life, drip constantly upon them and it is what they are, because it is part of what they do, every single day.
All I can see to do is create these meta text narratives describing what is going on. If we can keep that narrative going, there is some hope that at critical moments when people are listening, as I believe many are right now, a narrative that offers something insightful might grab them enough to want to explore it for themselves. I'm watching people around me in a very small and remote county here, 21,000 people total in the county, replacing their signs that had Bush/Cheney with Ron Paul. They are sharing DVD's with each other about 911 conspiracies, and they are questioning.
I don't know what that can come to, but when I say something now, I don't see the barriers going up in the back of the eyes like I used to.