Time to Take Terrorism Seriously


If we want to deal seriously with terrorism, we must confront the factors that allow it to operate.

By Lamont Colucci | U.S. News & World Report June 5, 2017
Lamont Colucci is associate professor of politics at Ripon College

Another attack in London; Europe descends into continuous chaos caused by Islamic terrorism. The media wrings their hands with declarations of deplorability, as the mayor of London assures his citizens that London is "one of the safest global cities in the world." Counterterrorism experts obsess over whether the terrorists were "lone wolves" or "known wolves," part of a cell, part of a terror franchise, had links to this or that website, traveled to (fill-in-the-blank country in the Middle East or South Asia) and whether they were "homegrown" or imported.

One would think that after 45 years (assuming we use the Black September attack in Munich as a beginning point), that the West would, unlike the mayor of London, take terrorism seriously. This seriousness has nothing to do with what the counterterrorism experts obsess over. They are too invested in the building that is on fire now and not about the entire city structure, let alone the strategic, historic or future implications.

This is no condemnation of their efforts; it is merely an understanding that our preoccupation with counterterror tactics, legal interrogation frameworks, radicalization monitoring and even grief counseling do not address the fundamental problem. Like so much that has been missing in western and American foreign policy, it is an underlying lack of understanding of geopolitics and grand strategy.

Terrorism, like any movement, requires oxygen: ammunition, training, inspiration, technique and experience. Where does terrorism get this from? There are two answers, and these two answers have been the same since that Munich attack: rogue states and failed states. From the late 1970s, the list has been semi-permanent: Iran, Syria, Libya (from rogue to failed state) are the old guard. The withered members were the North Koreans (down to attacking its own), Iraq (regime changed by the U.S.) and the Soviets. The newest additions are primarily failed or failing states: Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. According to the Global Terrorism Index, four terrorist groups were responsible for 74 percent of all deaths in 2015: the Islamic State group, al-Qaida, Boko Haram and the Taliban. All of these are proponents of an extremist Sunni ideology and emanate out of failed or failing states. Further, terrorist groups receive haven, logistics, training and supplies from rogue states. South Asia, Africa and the Middle East account for 84 percent of terrorist attacks and 95 percent of terrorism deaths. READ the REST HERE

Lamont Colucci Opinion Contributor
Lamont Colucci is associate professor of politics at Ripon College, a former Fulbright scholar to the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna and author of "The National Security Doctrines of the American Presidency: How they Shape our Present and Future," among other books. You can find out more at lamontcolucci.com

Showing 2 reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.