Monday, January 10, 2005

What makes a terrorist?

8-11 March 2005, Madrid, Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security in Madrid. There is an on-line forum to debate the topics. One is on what makes a terrorist? Here is my take:

If I deeply and fervently desire a certain political outcome which seems reasonable not just to me but also to many others like me, and if I first try to obtain that outcome by peaceful means, by debating, speaking, writing, demonstrating and campaigning, and all this comes to nothing, and I come to the conclusion that there are no channels available to us for progress by peaceful means; then there are three courses open to me:
(1) I can fall back into personal defeat, , feeling powerless, worthless, inert, and experience a depression or burnout.
(2) I can just give up, forget our original aims, and do something else.
(3) I can turn to violence and become some kind of terrorist.

We should remember that perhaps the greatest statesman of our times, Nelson Mandela, moved from peaceful campaigning to being prepared to use violence against property; but he was caught, and a remarkable philosophical or spiritual change took place in him during his years of imprisonment.

It follows from this that the democratic process that enables debate and peaceful persuasion is the true antidote to terrorism.

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