What is the definition of Terrorism? Is it a senseless act
of violence against innocent people for political reasons?
Or, is it an act of self-sacrifice at someone's expense, and doesn't
require the deaths of innocent people to be ranked as Terrorism?
Or, is Terrorism's definition the "absence of Vigilance?"
Friday, March 12,
2004—Ground Zero Plus 912
Define Terrorism, Please!
Is It The Absence Of Vigilance?
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Mar. 12, 2004
-- Last night I sat in the second row of the World Policy Institute's
discussion on Terrorism, my ear cocked as the panelists did their best
to try and define the word "Terrorism."
It was a greased pig.
tried to define the word "terrorism"
One of the panelists, Allen Greenspan, an expert
on the Middle East from the Switzerland-based May Group, claimed that
Terrorism such as suicide bombings and the attack on the World Trade
Center was a "theater," and the play was designed not to Terrorize the
citizens of the nation under attack, but to prove to the people in the
"audience" of the Terrorist's nation that the individual was willing
to simply "die."
Greenspan's point was the "Terrorist Act"
was the objective, not the residual impact on those who were
victimized by it. A suicide bomber who blew himself or
herself up without hurting anyone else had achieved the ultimate goal.
Whether others were killed or maimed, according to Greenspan, was not
relevant to the act.
This kind of "Non-Objective
Terrorism" was the most dangerous of all, he claimed, for it was not
driven by political agenda. In other words, there was no
negotiating its end, for the end itself was the act.
Moderator Ian Cuthbertson, Senior
Fellow and Director of the World Policy Institute's (WPI)
Counter-Terrorism Project, offered up a more palatable explanation.
He spoke to "Traditional Terrorism" where acts of violence were
directed against the innocent for political reasons. He
offered a simple formula: VIOLENCE--MESSAGE--DEMAND!
The act of violence provides a
platform for a message, followed by some demand.
In all cases, the panelists
referred to Terrorism as the Cult Of Death, where no matter the goal
of the act, death was delivered.
Richard Allan, American
Scholar-in-Residence at the EastWest Institute and a Professor of Law, felt the definition of
Terrorism was far too narrow. He argued that Terrorism was
being used as a word to define acts outside the United States, and
brought into focus his concern that "Domestic Terrorism" was being
swept to the sidelines. The Oklahoma City bombings,
for example, and the threats of radical right wing groups within the
United States posed just as great a threat as any foreign threat.
He also eluded to the "Terrorism" of a father against a child as an
example of Terrorism's long arms.
discussion came on the heels of the recent Terrorist bombing in Madrid
which has killed hundreds and wounded thousands. During
the Question and Answer period, the questions ranged from the threat
of nuclear Terrorism by rogue nations to whether America had fostered
Terrorism by supporting radical groups in the past.
The ultimate point
underscored by all three panelists was that America is facing another
attack in the near future by one or more sources, either from within
or without. The goal of that attack can be driven by the
engines of radical politics seeking concessions or retribution, or,
from an act that is nothing more than a attempt at martyrdom, and has
little concern as the ripple effect.
said we must help liberal Islam change the attitude of radical
Islam to reduce the threat of Terrorism
The only solution given to reduce the threat of
Terrorism was from Mr. Greenspan who said we must do what we can to
help liberal Islam change the attitude of radical Islam. He
cautioned the audience that no outside influence could effect that
change, and that it must come from within. He noted
that many members of Islam were protesting senseless acts of violence,
and that was a good sign.
frothing at the bit.
seemed to me that each person in the world should be exposed to the
Pledge of Vigilance, and given instruction on its use in their lives,
and its impact on the Children's Children's Children.
Greenspan was right, and I believe he was, Terrorism can only be
neutralized from the inside out. Whether it is the
nation of Islam, or a Complacent America, Terrorism will not go away
without an effort. Vigilance is its counterpart, and
only by providing an antidote can the poisons of Fear, Intimidation
and Complacency be replaced with Courage, Conviction and Right Actions
for the Children's Children's Children.
reason I was excited was to hear an expert on Terrorism, Professor Allan,
demand consciousness of Domestic Terrorism. His claim that we
have narrowed Terrorism to a bandwidth limiting it to external foreign
elements blinds us to the dangers of what is happening in our own
I believe the
roots of Terrorism begin at home, whether it is a nice, middle-class
home in suburban America or a hut in Palestine. Only
when we become Sentinels of Vigilance can we counter the Beast of
I went to bed
last night a little more comfortable.
I knew the
definition of Terrorism.
It wasn't what Terrorism is--a
set of confused definitions. Terrorism's true definition
is what keeps Terrorism from growing and morphing into various shapes
and forms that defy accurate definition. It is Terrorism's
Defining Terrorism is like trying to nail
Jell-O to the wall. But Vigilance is clear, precise,
It is a state of
readiness for the unexpected. It is the innate concern a mother
or father has not only for the safety and security of his or her
children, but for the safety and security of all children, regardless
of their race, their creed, their ethnicity.
readiness means that naturally, within us all, born in our parental
souls, is the awareness that Courage counters Fear, and that
Conviction trumps Intimidation, and, Right Actions that benefit the
Children's Children's Children will always overpower Complacency in
all its nefarious forms.
often includes shoving one's viewpoints upon others
Terrorism is the absence of Vigilance.
Terrorism is all about selfishness. It is about protecting one's
views, one's world, from the integration and imposition of another.
It includes, often, shoving one's viewpoints upon others with barrel
of a gun or blast of a bomb. It also takes the form of a
backhand across the face of a child, or a vicious tongue lashing of a
child's self worth by a parent who Terrorizes the child for the sheer
pleasure of his or her power over the innocent.
Terrorism thrives. It continues to grow unless dams and
blockades are established. Those dams and blockades are
the Principles of Vigilance. Only when the solid concrete of
Courage, Conviction and Right Actions for future generations stands in
the way of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency will Terrorism be
It will never be
defined, just as water behind a dam cannot be held into one place, for
it will constantly swirl and ebb and flood while the concrete holding
it remains solid, entrenched, guarding its desire to flood and ravage
was a good example of understanding the threats of Terrorism.
It reminded me that without Vigilance, we can never define our enemy.
And, as the
panelists said last night, the enemy of our enemies is our friend.
That would mean that Terrorism's greatest enemy is Vigilance, and
therefore, Vigilance should be our best friend.
Vigilance and banish Terrorism
But last night, I don't recall the
word "Vigilance" spoken once in the discussion about Terrorism.
Had the panelists spent the same time defining Vigilance, perhaps the
definition of Terrorism would have been clear. That
Terrorism is the absence of Vigilance.
You can make Vigilance
your best friend. Just take the Pledge of Vigilance now.
Define Terrorism as the absence of Vigilance. Remind
yourself that if you are not living in a State of Vigilance, you are
in a State of Terrorism.
Make the enemy of
our enemy your friend. Embrace Vigilance and banish