Ed Marks: Thank you. Good afternoon. It’s a pleasure to be here to Rumi Forum although my pleasure is a little bit modified because I didn’t expect to have Dr. Alexander here and why that makes me a little bit timid is Dr. Alexander is the [IB] of the CT counter terrorism experts in Washington. We all turn on the television and it’s full of talking heads all of whom have self-declared themselves as experts but if you Google Dr. Alexander’s name you’ll find serious main-line seminal publications going back 35 and 40 years. So having him here where I am supposed to be a speaker and it’s a bit intimidating personally. But there you go. It’s a very complicated subject, a very sensitive subject. Lots of aspects to it. I want to maybe touch on three or four aspects of the characteristics and maybe we can have some discussion about it. One of the first biding comments I must make about terrorism, practice of terrorism is one that Dr. Alexander and others have pointed out for years. Terrorism is fundamentally theater, it’s a political theater. It’s about making an effect to obtain an objective. All we have to do think about 9/11 as a political active drama which has changed attitudes, changed environment and changed behavior of American government and other governments. It was a theatre that was not only very dramatic but theatre that was very effective. Now dealing with terrorism has raised another question which comes about on the question of definition. What are we talking about? It’s interesting to know is that almost every government, every academic, every politician around has attempted to come up with the definition and yet there is no single accepted definition. Even inside the United States government there is no single definition. Different departments have different definitions and there’s the UN academics, different governments. But in a sense this is purely a lawyer’s problem because the difference between the various definitions are very technical and really almost either very, very extremely abstruse academic or wiggle detailing. We all know really what we are talking about. We’re talking about terrorism is the use of violence, a form of violence which violates the norms that we all come to accept regarding disputes including war. The violation, the terrorist, the people use terrorism deliberately violates the norms in order to obtain the reaction they wish, in order to create the drama that will cause a reaction. Otherwise why bother to do it.
Terrorism has two major aspects. I want to talk about one. The use of violence to obtain political lands, to violate norms is often been engaged in by governments in the past and today. I won’t name looking into that because I’m not gonna talk today about terrorism, the use of terrorism by governments. That is a whole subject of great interest and talked about much in the past. I will only talk about the terrorism which has seemed to dominate our media in the last 10 to 15 years and the one that we generally are referring to when we talk about terrorism in contemporary world which is terrorism by non-state actors. Terrorism like private groups that political organization but not by governments. But what we’re talking about we must not forget that governments also have used terrorism and some of them continue to do so. Now one of the significant changes in the world in the last 15-20 years was the end of the Cold War. Cold war went on for 50 years or so and it existed and created a form of structure in the world. We have two major blocks in competition and we have some others maneuvering other countries maneuvering between them. But we have a form of what the political scientist call a form of our political architecture in the world and much that took place, took place in the midst of the structure of the two major opposing blocks. With the end of the Cold War that structure disintegrated, collapsed and one of the unexpected implications, consequences of it was a sudden upsurge of insurgencies around the world, insurgencies against governments. Many of these insurgencies have kept in place under the structure in the end of the Cold War. But now they immersed out all over the place in the name of the defined nation, people pursuing this insurgencies in terms of defining themselves in some way as a nation. Some of these nations were religiously defined – Al-Qaida. Some were ethnic groups Kosovar’s, Basques, Tamils, Kurds, all around the world people have identified themselves in some way and have launched into insurgencies, the use of violence against established government in pursuit of their objectives. Now one of the implications in the end of the Cold War is that the major powers, again not naming names use to finance some more than insurgent political groups. Support them politically, support them financially and sometimes support them militarily in pursuit of the Cold War objectives of the two blocks. With the end of the cold war – this financing and support of many of these group’s stopped and this is why through these groups reaching out now for more power with more – and while they have lost some of their political and financial support they used to get, they also have given up the reigns they were held on. They become more independent, more active, more energetic. Now insurgencies are about power. That’s what it’s all about; how to get it because if you have it you don’t need to go into an insurgency. You are the government. So insurgencies are about power. Power is a political issue. Now a point that those launching insurgencies are by definition the weaker side cause they’re launched against established government, established power and being the weaker side have reached for one of the weapons of the weaker side which is terrorism.