Modern Politics on “The Strategy of Terrorism” Essay
Modern Politics on “The Strategy of Terrorism”
David Fromkin, author of “The Strategy of Terrorism” makes several arguments through his article; some of which I feel are relevant to today’s political atmosphere and some which seem unrealistic. The following essay discusses four key arguments and their relevancy in today’s standards.
The most unrealistic statement made by Fromkin was in his description of a terrorist in the eyes of some people. As revolutionaries, terrorists have come to seem romantic figures to many (685). Although written over thirty years ago, it seems unimaginable that anyone could see terrorists as romantic. The author makes another reference to terrorists as men going from gunmen to heroes. While it is possible that terrorist regimes consider their leaders as heroes, it is unrealistic to think any non-terrorist society would agree. The 2001 collapse of the Twin Towers destroyed any possible visions of romance or heroism involving terrorist actions, if anyone was ever to feel that way towards terrorism.
To look at Fromkin’s arguments in a pre-911 mindset, some of his arguments may not seem that unrealistic to America’s mainstream society. The American people have been aware of terrorism for decades, but very few physical acts of terrorism has been carried out in American soil; in comparison to overseas countries. Many American’s were ignorant to terrorism, even after the Oklahoma Bombing in 1995; which many considered not to be terrorism because it was an American man with no known organization behind his action.
Although, publications would later be released linking McVeigh to the Aryan Nation organization and the Midwest Bandits (Cash & Charles, 2001). Before 911, most American’s perceived terrorism as something that happened in other countries; not in the safe and dependable United States. American’s today are much more aware of the dangers of terrorism.
How does one define terrorism? Fromkin did well in answering this question, and his descriptions are still relevant today. The author’s description of terrorism as a fear tactic, using fear as a weapon, and their need for publicity in order to be successful was relevant in the 1970s as well as today. Everyday the news displays more heinous acts of terrorism in Iraq, where our brothers, husbands and other loved ones may be; and we are struck with fear. These images are daily reminders of those we lost in the 911 attacks as well. When human life is taken for reasons only known to the killers, our fear is their success.
Fromkin also makes a good argument when he details terrorist strategy as a success determined by response made by the victims’ organization or country. It is my opinion that the United States has reacted as the terrorists hoped. The terrorists had hoped to ruin the economy and security of the American people. When America went to war, the implications were, and still are, innumerable. The divide of lower and upper class Americans has all but wiped out the middle class status; and today, more and more Americans are questioning the government’s motives in going to war with Iraq, the unity once found in America is no more.
The final argument to be discussed is Fromkin’s outlook on the United States government as “a face and not a mask”. I wonder if he would feel that way today. As mentioned above, American’s are now questioning our government’s motives in Iraq. Scandals in the White House and throughout government agencies have become a regular occurrence, published as front page news and on the news. I would have to disagree with Fromkin’s argument; the American government most certainly does wear a mask. It is possible however, that at the time of Fromkin’s article publication, our government had a much better mask in place.
In conclusion, Fromkin’s article makes several arguments about terrorism; most however are unrealistic in today’s society. What hasn’t changed however is the strategy of terrorism. Terrorists today use fear tactics and public displays of violence to produce a response. Unfortunately, many times terrorists receive the response they hope for. As Fromkin discussed, sometimes prevention is not enough, and at times inappropriate. The way to combat terrorism is to understand it, know the motivation and not to play into the hands of the enemy.
Cash, J, D. and Charles, Roger. “Company Boy: The Connection Between the FBI, Secret Service, White Supremacists and McVeigh.” Soldier of Fortune September 2001, Vol. 26, 9. 30-34.
Fromkin, David. (1975). The Strategy of Terrorism. Foreign Affairs (pre-1986); ABI/INFORM Global: 1975.