“From the Terrorists’ Point of View”

24 10 2007

Speaking of books….. book

I just finished this pretty critical read: “From the Terrorists’ Point of View: What they experience and why they come to destroy” by Fathali M. Moghaddam.

I was expecting a sympathetic view of terrorism to be presented based on the book title, but really the author offers understanding without sympathy. He talks about the “Staircase” or Five Floors that bring a person from dissatified (First Floor) to strapping a bomb around the waist and walking into a public space with the intent to kill (Fifth Floor). Knowing these steps helps to understand why and what and not just see “terrorist” as objects, but instead as people who are trying to bring about change…in the only way they see as feasible.

Here are the 5 Floors (from the chapter titles):

First Floor: Growing Dissatisfaction among the Multitudes
Second Floor: Those Americans are to Blame!
Third Floor: The Ends Justify the Means
Fourth Floor: It’s Us Against Them
Fifth Floor: This “Heroic” Act Will Improve the World

As part of this, a detailed and clear explanation of the various roles in a typical terrorist organization is provided.

The author talks about Democracy and how we Americans have one biased view of it that we try to “export” (impose) on others and how that just does not work. We need to respect that other cultures can be more community-based and not as individualistic and dependant on a “hero”.

He closes with these thoughts (I know it’s long, but if you have the time, it’s  a good read):

How long is a “war on terror” supposed to last?
What does “Mission Accomplished” mean in the narrative of the “war on terror”?
How does an army fight a war when the enemy, the “other side”, remains unknown?
How does a government bring a war to conclusion when the leaders of the other side cannot be found?
What does “victory” mean in this new war-the annihilation of most terrorists? Some terrorists? All terrorists?
Where is the battlefield? Is it Iraq? The Near East? Asia? Africa? Europe? All the rest of the world outside the United States?
But, of course, the battlefield must include the United States, because that is the prime target of both sides in the “war on terror”.
Perhaps inevitably, it is also in the United States that the most important changes have come about becasue of the “war on terror”. Critics of U.S. government policy, and particularly defenders of human rights, are now routinely accused of giving “comfort to the enemy” and “letting the troops down”. The U.S. government has felt compelled to do whatever it takes, including wiretapping without court approval, detention without legel representation, and even torture (according to international standards acepted by most legal experts and organizations such as Amnesty International), to gain the upper hand in the “war on terror”.
Can one be a defender of human rights if it becomes “necessary” to torture prisoners in order to defend human rights? Can one establish a democracy if in order to establish that democracy it become “necessary” to set aside democratic procedures? If we accept the general principle that the ends do not justify the means, are we justified in making exceptions? What if it is only through exceptions that we can bring about the conditions necessary for us to put into practice the principle that the ends do not justify the ends?
So far, the U.S. government has not addressed such questions in a satisfactory way on the stage of world public opinion. As criticism from abroad has increased, and the drum beat of the “war on terror” has continued, pressures on people to conform and to obey inside the United States have also increased.
Many of the policies adopted by the U.S. government are predictable on the basis of a univerasal relationship between threat from outside a group and processes inside the group: External threat inevitably results in some measure of internal repression, the rise of aggressive leadership, as well as displacement of aggression onto minorities and particular outgroups. Freedom and human rights are the second casualities of war, after truth is first crucified. No doubt people will look back at this period in American history as they now look back judgmentally and with disappointment at the internment of Japanese-Americans in the United States during the Second World War.
~Fathali M. Moghaddam, “From the Terrorists’ Point of View



2 responses

25 10 2007

Hey Dayna!

Checking in… I tend to do that every so often, though I have not had anything to comment on for a while… Hope things are good out your way 🙂

This was some good stuff… I actually decided to send this quote to my mother. Maybe it will start a battle, but maybe, just maybe, since it is questions rather than conclusions, it will say something useful to her .

Take care sweetie!


1 11 2007

Hey Nene~
I sent you a message over at IshThink. Life is ok here….just enjoying the fall leaves and waiting for spring.

Yeah, the book was pretty amazing. So many good ones out there, I wish I had the time.

And really, it seems that people are starting to get it. Those of us that drove out to Washington in Feb SO MANY YEARS AGO to protest aren’t such freaks anymore.

Big hug being sent your way!

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