Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Terrorism From Below and Above


By Dallas Darling

"Now, as we all know, good often proceeds from apparent evil, and the reverse." 
- Nasrudin

Unlike the British and French military forces scattered across parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, including their massive and lethal weapons systems, at least the two suspected British converts to Islam that attacked and stabbed to death a British soldier in London did so by discriminating between enemy combatants and noncombatants. In Paris, surveillance showed a bearded man of North African origin and wearing an Arab-style tunic selectively stabbing a French soldier in the neck. 

It sounds cruel, but at least individualized military assassins and their "soft" weapons cause far less killing and destruction than collectivized military assassins and their "hard" weapons. 

Terrorism from below is always a consequence of terrorism from above, or when imperial armies invade and occupy foreign nations and dominate their peoples.

Although terrorism from below has emerged in many different forms and from various motivations, the earliest known examples of individualized military assassinations were the sicarii. The Jewish sicarii used a short sword (sica), which was hidden underneath their robes, to attack and kill their Roman enemies. Roman occupation soldiers which had militarily occupied Palestine, along with representatives of the Roman Empire and their religious collaborators, were specifically targeted. Their public attacks, carried out in broad daylight, were an indictment against imperial Rome which had indiscriminately slaughtered thousands through open mass executions. Their more humanized violence also served as a sign of hope against Rome's terrorism from above-systematic violence that determined the conditions of life through economic exploitation and enslavement.

The sicarii committed selective assassinations during holy festivals and special seasons. According to Josephus's account in his Jewish War: "The panic created was more alarming than the calamity itself; every one as on a battlefield, hourly expected death. Men kept watch at a distance on their enemies and would not trust even their friends when they approached."(2) Under Roman military occupation, cruelty had become the rule. When long-term injustices go unchecked, like the continued Western exploitation of resources, peoples, cultures, faiths, and military dictators in certain parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, cynical pleas of desperation arise. Faithfulness sometimes becomes fatalism. Massive secular-based violence against sacred traditions breeds faith-based violence. Counter-terrorism strategies from below are reactions to terrorism from above.
Unless terrorism from above is questioned and debated as rigorously as terrorism from below, new forms of overt and covert terrorist acts will continually evolve, especially in regards to the use of advanced weaponry. 
Whether from below or from above, there is one type of terrorism. 

But as the world observed on Sept. 11, 2001, individualized military assassins can sometimes lay down their sicas for a more powerful and technologically advanced lethal tool. 

And just as terrorism from above leads inevitably to its own next stages, so does terrorism from below. 

Left unhindered, terrorism from above and from below becomes super-terrorism, even hyper super-terrorism. 
If an effective language to critique both kinds of terrorism is not developed, then the concentration of absolute power will forever be met by inattentive acts of random helplessness.

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