Does globalization support terror?

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6. Is terror a direct or indirect effect of globalization? Does globalization support terror in the sense that through interaction between countries and higher technological processes different moral concepts and different social values and standards are more visible and terror is a reaction to these differences?

Jana Hybášková:

Terrorism uses war against the civilian population as a tool for gaining political power. Terrorism was used over the centuries in different parts of the world. Very often civilians belonged to different religions, or different ethnic groups. Was massacre through which the Abbasid dynasty gained power in Damascus terrorism? Was this a connection to globalization? Abbasid created a worldwide, global emporium. The yeni ceri hordes in the Balkans… And wars of modern nations for independence, from Greeks to the Algerian FLN, from Jewish Hagana to Indian Muslims, to the PLO. We can never define in a fully satisfactory way the line between war for independence, resistance and terrorism. The movements which were glorified by the Czech Marxist teachers in the past would reveal all the hallmarks of organized terrorist movements. These days Europe has to decide if the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are or are not a terrorist organization. The same holds true for Hezbollah and Hamas. Can we say that the IRA or ETA or Tupaku Amaru are reactions to interaction between countries and higher technological processes, different moral concepts and different social values and standards? Definitely we can not. Terrorism as such has no direct linkage to globalization; it is not its result, nor its part.

Can globalization enhance terrorism? Here we have to be very careful. Your question suggests an often repeated misunderstanding: the difference between globalization and industrial modernization. Modernization came about as a result of industrial revolution; the globalization of world prices was one of the processes accompanying the industrial revolution. We have to make a precise differentiation between them.

The issue in modern Islam is its limited ability to cope, or better to come to terms with modernity as such. Contrary to Christianity, Islam is a much more complex way of living which finds it much more difficult to open itself up to modernization. Many issues which need an answer in industrial and post-industrial societies remain unanswered for religious Muslims. The pious man then turns to religious roots, follows either teaching of Egyptian Muslim brothers or Saudi Wahhabis. Returning to the roots, as so often happens in the Islamic world should not be misinterpreted as a violent reaction. Many pious Muslims, among them scholars and intellectuals are true fundamentalists. The first act they will ever refuse and oppose is the use of violence. Modernity causes fundamentalism, not terrorism.

Globalization creates world prices, world trade benefits and world trade losses, and if mismanaged it amplifies social differences and destroys equal chances. Those left behind by globalization's benefits, marginalized uneducated Shiite population of southern Beirut, pre-industrial slums of Egyptian poverty in Cairo suburbs, millions of poor Saudis left behind in medieval environmental and social conditions seek change, political change and political representation. If their demand for change is not met by educated urban elites who run their states, they look for different political representation. Very many of them would not do so if they can achieve a share in globalization's benefits, and very many of them would never follow violent leaders or become terrorists. Incredible corruption of ruling elites is very often the real final reason for an active search for “different” political representation. As much as globalization supports corruption, we can agree. It is not globalization; it is corruption what leads to a search for political alternatives. Even with the Hamas victory, animosity towards Israel was not the real reason behind it. It was Fatah's corruption. Fatah has nothing to do with globalization.

So who are terrorists? This question is not usually answered properly. Terrorists, those who use attacks against civilians are not those who die in attacks. They are those who seek political power which they can not obtain in democratic elections. Hamas, a terrorist movement tried in Palestinian elections and it was not internationally recognized. It did not gain power. Hezbollah did not win elections. The Muslim Brotherhood can under democratic conditions in Egypt win elections.

So who are terrorists? Those who want to gain part of oil revenues, those who want to gain part of religious funds and charities, those who want to control drug trafficking in Gulf region, and those who participate in the illicit arms trade in the Greater Middle East. The connection towards globalization is loose.

Corinna Lohrengel:

First of all, thanks to Jana for taking the time to answer our questions in such detail! I learned many new approaches to the subject of globalization. Smile. Here are my thoughts - I concentrated on the questions about terror:

"The connection towards globalization is loose." (Concerning the terror)

The "terror and globalization" aspect interested me the most because I just wrote an essay about media and globalization. I think media is one of the most important outcomes of globalization concerning terrorism. Terrorist groups such as Hamas or Hezbollah profit especially from the internet to communicate and to widen their network all over the world. The internet gives them new opportunities: to communicate faster and without attracting so much attention. It has followers everywhere. To issue a command in place A and implement the command in place B without any hesitation. The media also gives those groups the chance to tell the world what they want to achieve with those actions. Osama bin Laden sends video-messages to tell the world what he wants to achieve and to warn everyone to be careful. In one message he said: "Even Germany shouldn't feel too secure." He wants us to know that every country could be the next. So the Internet and television - two outcomes of the process of globalization - kind of improved the networking of terrorist groups and made it easier for them to attack. That's why I think globalization and terror are connected with each other. So I don't agree with you Jana. But do you think about about these thoughts and what are your comments?

Friday, 11 December 2009

Fabian Siggemann:

Hi to all and sorry for being so late with my answer. First a happy new year to all of you. For me the 6th question was very interesting. In the last few years since the 11th of September, 2001, everybody has heard a lot about the war against terror. I don't now if globalization is the reason for more terrorism in the world, but I think that the possibility to communicate with every person on our earth over the internet or mobile phones or the possibilty to travel around the world in less than 2 days make it easier for terror to spread around the world. So I think it is not a reason for more terror but it is a kind of indirect assistance. Airplanes will be abused as weapons and airport develop body scanners to fight against terror and intervene in the privacy of how people live in this globalized world.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Lina Samoske:

First of all happy new year.

I also think the question and answer about terrorism is very interesting. Globalisation and terrorism is usually not mentioned in connection with each other. In my opinion, globalisation lets us communicate easier about all these occurrences, just like Fabian said. Globalisation can also enhance disparity, in that it could bring more envy with it. So I can imagine that it could bring more anger.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Josef Nový:

Hello Fabian,

I'm also late with my contribution, so I will join you. I also think that the new technologies and all the results of rapid development make it easier for the terrorists to strike. However, this is exactly what Jana Hybaskova warned us about - the new equipment and hi-tech is a result of modernization, not globalisation I think. The thing is that terrorists realized how much bomb attacks and other mass aggressions hurt modern societies and that they cannot respond to that properly. But this must always happen when one player respects the rules which another player ignores. The second player may not win, but has a certain advantage.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Jana Hybášková:

Dear Corinna, and Fabian and Josef

As much as I know, the suicidal form of terrorism appeared in the 12th century, with a specific Shiite sect based in Persia to conquer the Sunni population and later Christian crusaders. The militants were known as hašíšíjůn who were addicted to hashish and believed that by killing they would enter paradise. An important factor here is „to enter paradise“ - an individual, moral persuasion regarding the specific very high moral value of a murderous act. I would say that this belief in the extremely high moral value of a murderous act is what makes terrorism so specific and complicated to counter.

Christian crusaders were killed while coming to Palestine. Another case of clear act of terrorism in the Middle East are the 20th and 30th in Palestine. Incoming Jews believed in their fight for their Holy land, as much as Arabs did so. Irgun Zwei Leumi and Hagana were terrorist movements, fighting for their holy persuasion, killing not only Palestinians, but Brits and others as well. Palestinians learned their tactics mainly from them.

In the humble history of my country there were a couple of obvious terrorists – partisans who came from the UK in 1942 to kill General Heydrich, the head of the Endlesung Project. Killing Heydrich was a clear terrorist attack from our point of view. The recent terrible attack on the CIA in Afghanistan was definitely motivated by terrorist persuasion in that the attacker believe he was serving in the Holy war against the infidel, and attacked them in the heart of their military structure stemmed from the military importance of the target, not from one created by the media. I am sure that media and globalization did not play any role in any of the acts of terrorism I mentioned above.

Yes, you are right, the media can be used as a part of the tactics to spread the feeling of defeat and victimization among other parts of the civilian population in order to enhance the „victory“ of terrorists. A lot of literature has been devoted to this particular issue. Nevertheless, terrorism first is the modus of warfare, which is used in asymmetric situations. In such cases, targeting civilians is the most effective way of how to balance asymmetry. The media amplifies the effect. But the real truth behind this is the spiritual value of the act, and a deep moral persuasion about the extreme rightness of the act. This has nothing to do with globalization.

In the event that triggered the World War I, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg were assassinated in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip. The famous photo shows the car of the Archduke. The car was attacked since the pair were already using a modern means of transportation. Today, they would most probably travel by plane. Gavrilo Princip would most probably try to attack the plane…

As much as modernity changes the conditions in which we live, so a lot of terrorism accommodates these conditions. The second feature of terrorism I underline as well: the fight within conditions of asymmetry. Any means which can be used to balance it is good.

What about the media? If there would be legislation and penalizing the amplification of the effects of terrorism by spreading the news, the media would most probably be more restrained and terrorists would most probably reconsider the targeting of mass population. So what about launching People vs. al Jazira, People vs. BBC?

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Marenka Krasomil:

I agree with Fabian that the possibilities that globalization is offering us is centred around worldwide communication. That terror has the chance to spread out all over the world is one point, and the other is, I think, that news about terror, the papers, the newscasts, etc. are more connected. Through that information it is possible to reach more people in a shorter time. And perhaps it is also a fact that if news about terror is spread, everyone has the impression that there is more terror in the world...perhaps the people would not have had the impression of an immense increase in terrorism 10 years earlier.

I do not want to say that the rise of terrorism is not true, just that the media in a global world has the chance to give the impression of more terror and dangerous terror than it probably is.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Andrew Barton:

Hi everybody. Now to add my five cents worth. Terrorism in one form or another has certainly been with us since the beginning of (human) time as mankind has learned to terrorise itself to varying degrees throughout the ages, although it is only in relatively modern times beginning in the 19th century that the perception of terror as something wholly irrational, unsporting, crazed and maniacal began to develop. This was particularly so as nationalities began to agitate to carve out their own nation states from the old empires; the Macedonian "terrorists" during the break-up of the Ottoman Empire come to mind. Then you had the creation of "terrorist" organisations promoting political ideas, such as the 19th century and early 20th century anarchists. Or even a combination of the two: Zionists terrorising their British overlords in Palestine in support of an independent Jewish state. And for much of the post-WWII 20th century we've had so-called terrorists commiting acts of violence in the name of left-wing politics (Shining Path, Baader-Meinhof, Red Army), right-wing politics (Contras) and again, nationalities (PLO, Tamil Tigers, etc). However, these groups were only "terrorists" in the eye of the beholder; one government's terrorists were another government's freedom-fighters. A lot of this was a result of the Cold War of course, but some might nevertheless be seen as legitimate groups fighting for legitimate causes, e.g. the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. And another issue is that regarding so-called state terrorism. Is an act of terror committed only by individuals or small groups, or can terror be carried out by governments as well? Again, it's in the eye of the beholder: the USA and Britain essentially invaded Iraq illegally in 2003 because they did not have the backing of a UN resolution, and therefore some people would say that the war was a wholesale act of terror. As a New Zealander, I well remember an act of state terror being carried out in Auckland harbour in 1985 when the French government bombed the Rainbow Warrior, which resulted in one death.

Speaking about Iraq leads us on to the phenomenon of Al-Quida and its various offshoots and "Islamic" terrorism, although there was no connection whatsoever to begin with in 2003. With Al-Quida we have the re-emergence of terrorism in support of an idea, except this time it is seemingly without a concrete agenda. But on the other hand, it is possibly the first truly global terrorist movement which has very effectively used globalisation to its great advantage, especially global communications. But what the whole anti-terror "war" and accompanying debate sadly lacks is a rigorous analysis of the causes and motivations behind this movement. Are Islamic terrorists simply nihilists who wish to inflict as much pain and suffering on non-believers because their beliefs or lack thereof are anathema to them? Or are they an extreme expression of frustration at the way the vast majority of Muslim people (living either in poor Muslim nations or alienated within wealthy but undemocratic Muslim countries) have been marginalised in the global economy? And what of the way that the original "war on terror" was manipulated to justify repression and state violence against any type of anti-state forces; again, it was the Palestinians who suffered as they all became dangerous terrorists overnight after Bush declared "you're either with us or against us". Israel's response to Palestinian efforts to defend and fight for its terrority is suprememly ironic when you consider that the Israeli state was founded on the back of acts of extreme terrorism carried out by future prime ministers like Menachem Begin and Yitzak Shamir.

Anyhow, my question is this: if the "new" terrorism of today is a consequence of global forces or is at least nourished and maintained by global connectedness, can it also be "defeated" by globalisation?

Thursday, 14 January 2010