Thursday, November 27, 2008

The waste that is terrorism

Over 100 dead in Mumbai and the death toll is expected to rise. Terrorists have struck yet again -- and for what? What is it exactly that they hope to achieve with these tactics?

Actually, the answer is quite simple: they're working to create chaos. Ultimately, paramilitary groups are hoping to destabilize regimes to the point where they'll cave to their demands.

And given the fact that these organizations often lack the resources to launch an all-out assault and attack military targets, they do the only thing they can do: attack those who cannot defend themselves.

In the case of the recent attacks in Mumbai, the terrorists chose high profile sites and targeted tourists (particularly Westerners). By doing so they hoped to attract an international audience and draw attention to their cause. They're also trying to rattle some political cages; if this organization is indeed a Muslim paramilitary group, it may be working to increase tensions between India and Pakistan.

But what organizations like these fail to realize is that terrorism simply does not work. Terrorist groups very rarely achieve their political objectives. Blowing up buildings and killing innocent civilians does not result in the kinds of changes they're hoping for. If anything, it causes target governments to retrench and dig their heels even further.

Which makes complete sense. Government are supposed to represent and protect its civilians. Consequently, countries will never make policy concessions to these groups -- even when their own people are being targeted.

Terrorism is a tool for the desperate. It's for those who feel that they have to resort to violence in order to exert any kind of political will. In a way it's a sign of defeat; the message is loud and clear: We don't have the means to get what we want so we'll resort to nihilism.

In the end, terrorist groups who attack innocent civilians fail, while leaving a bloody trail behind them. And it doesn't matter who or what is being targeted or the scale.

Sadly, terrorists don't understand this, so they'll continue to target innocent people.

What a waste.

[photo credit: BBC]

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