Monday, July 29, 2002

"Terror as a Strategy of Psychological Warfare” by Boaz Ganor
I think what we’re seeing in Israel is something that has never been experienced before in quite this way, with regard to terrorism. That is: What happens when the terrorists go too far?

According to Ganor’s article, the goal of the terrorist is to “undermine the sense of security and to disrupt everyday life so as to harm the target country’s ability to function. The goal of this strategy is, in turn, to drive public opinion to pressure decision-makers to surrender to the terrorists’ demands. Thus the target population becomes a tool in the hands of the terrorist in advancing the political agenda in the name of which the terrorism is perpetrated.”

Ganor explains that the terrorist attack is aimed at three communities: The terrorist’s own community, the targeted community and International public opinion.

The Palestinians were doing very well on all three levels up to a point. Then they started to go too far. The targeted community (that’s us, unfortunately) has come to feel so threatened by the attacks as to see them as a threat to its very existence. Not being of a suicidal state of mind (well, mostly anyway) the community has switched to a “fight” (as opposed to “flight”) mode.

This “fight” mode has caused the targeted community to strike out fiercely at the terrorist’s community, causing just enough suffering to the terrorist’s community as to make it begin to rethink the effectiveness of the terrorist strategy. It has also begun to realize that instead of advancing its political agenda, the terrorists have actually caused a regression in the chances of achieving their goals. International public opinion, although generally very sympathetic to the terrorists’ political agenda, has started to be disgusted by their strategy.

We learn, therefore, that terrorism as an effective strategy has its limits and can be counterproductive. I think this is the lesson of 9/11, as well.

I hope so, anyway.

Article pointed out by Fred Lapides.