Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Alienation and rage 

In his article Don't Stop With Syria's Occupation Juan Cole states an interesting thesis when he writes: "You want to end terrorism? End unjust military occupations. By all means have Syria conduct an orderly withdrawal from Lebanon if that is what the Lebanese public wants. But Israel needs to withdraw from the Golan Heights, which belong to Syria, as well. The Israeli military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank must be ended. The Russian scorched-earth policy in Chechnya needs to stop. . . . The U.S. needs to conduct an orderly and complete withdrawal from Iraq. And when all these military occupations end, there will be some hope for a vast decrease in terrorism. People need a sense of autonomy and dignity, and occupation produces helplessness and humiliation. Humiliation is what causes terrorism."
But Cole doesn't discuss what is sometimes called "domestic" terrorism, perhaps because this doesn't fit his thesis quite so well, The IRA, the Basque separatists, the FLQ and groups like this don't really fit his model, nor do the pocket-sized US secessionist groups. That is, unless governments are perceived to be "occupying" any land at all which is claimed by a separatist movement. Organizations like the Red Brigade in Germany and Italy don't fit the model either.
The terrorism practiced by these groups is not caused by humiliation, but rather by a toxic combination of alienation and rage -- the group is alienated from the political authority through which they might have been able to resolve their grievances, and this authority becomes the focus of their rage.
So we get the FLQ blowing up mailboxes and Timothy McVeigh blowing up the Oklahoma City federal building.

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