The news around the world in recent times has come to be dominated by terrorism. Hardly a week goes by without headlines screaming about the latest atrocity perpetrated by radicalized and disaffected extremists against innocent civilians in London, Manchester, Brussels, Paris, Orlando, Baghdad, Kabul and elsewhere. As body counts grow exponentially, frustration and anger builds among ordinary citizens everywhere, leading to a polarization of views and hardening of biases, with an escalation of pressure on politicians to do something drastic to stop the carnage. Close the borders. Stop accepting refugees. Ban Muslims from entering the country. Beef up security. Make it easier on the authorities to suspend civil rights and liberties in order to combat terrorism. Make our streets and cities safe again.
And, of course, this is exactly what the terrorists want to happen. They want to destabilize the heretofore comfortable and secure societies within which we live. They want to stir up anger and hate. They want us to sacrifice our hard-earned freedoms and human rights for the sake of presumed security. They want to create the illusion that this is a black and white, us vs them, good vs evil world, and it is their political ideology, their god, their truth that is the correct one, while our western societies and values are corrupt and the works of a real or virtual Satan.
It is easy to react emotionally when faced with the specter of being an innocent victim of terrorist attack, yet most of the prescribed nostrums being put forward by politicians both fringe and mainstream, are either self-serving or totally missing the point in addressing the root causes of most of the terrorism we are seeing.
We tend to view terrorists as small groups of radicals with crackpot idealism fueled primarily by ethnic or religious hatred. Even larger terrorist movements like Daesh, ISIL, Taliban, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda or Boko Haram are viewed as self-contained, ad hoc groups springing up as a result of real or imagined local persecutions or political repressions. Yet anyone who has delved into the problem with dispassionate rationality, soon comes to realize that terrorism is a much bigger game being fueled and orchestrated by major nation states and powers for their own geo-political purposes.
What we should be asking is where do these groups get the weapons, the expertise, the training, the technology, the leadership and the funding to carry out their operations. Support and financing of terrorism is no trivial matter. It costs big money to recruit, train and arm terrorist groups that can number in the tens of thousands, and support their on-going operations. Sophisticated weaponry and explosives are not something you buy at local stores. Only a few countries have the capability of manufacturing such things, and only states with well-developed militaries have the expertise to train others in their use. Without the support of sponsor states, most of these terrorist groups would not be able to be anything more than minor local nuisances, let alone operate on a global scale.
Delve into this murky world and you start seeing the bigger picture. Iran funds and sponsors the Hezbollah terrorists. Saudi Arabia has long been known to be a major source of funds for such groups as Al Qaeda, the Taliban and AL-Nusra. Pakistan has been funding the Taliban and Al-Qaeda for a long time. And of course, there is Russia and its predecessor, the Soviet Union, which has been secretly fomenting unrest and funding terrorist groups throughout the world, in its long-range strategy to destroy NATO, the European Union and western civilization as a whole. Its most recent forays into Ukraine and Syria are but the tip of the iceberg. The mass migration of refugees fleeing to Europe from the Middle East and Africa can in large part be traced back to both covert and overt machinations of Russia aimed at undermining Europe.
If the world powers were really serious about eliminating terrorism, they would take the war to the source of the problem and isolate those states that are providing the wherewithal for the terrorists to wreak their havoc. Cut off all dealings with these states, political and economic, and make them pay a heavy price for their political adventurism. As their support base gets eroded and neutralized, eventually the terrorist threat will wither away.
Most current anti-terrorist actions and programs are simply dealing with the symptoms and not the root causes. Continuing in that vein will not solve the problem, only perpetuating a never-ending cycle of terrorist action and re-action. Only a concerted and disciplined strategy focusing on the major state enablers of terrorism will yield any effective results.