A Primer on Regional Terrorism
A Primer on Regional Terrorism

What is terrorism, anyway? How can we look toward stamping it out? Can it even be done? This human guest writer, working in the field of regional terrorism, offers an attempt at helping us define this, and presents ways to consider approaching the topic.

Swirl paw

Canberra, Australia – Wednesday 16 September 2015

As it is with cats, so it is with terrorism. There are many types, breeds, mixes and colours of cats - and of terrorism too. What is this I hear you hark, a cat is terrorist? Execute him at once! One should not be so hasty as to arrive at such conclusions, and return upon the exalted stature of a discerning feline who observes before striking. Therefore, unlike cats, terrorists exist for one purpose only, and that is to further their cause, they are a most special and dangerous manifestation of a person which takes time to appear. That sounds like a many things in international politics, but it does not strategically serve one to equate, or conflate, one thing with another when then are different, and to ignore the many stages of interdiction available to solving regional terrorism.

The Phenomena of Terrorism

A Group of Folks
A Rebel, a Terrorist, and a Freedom Fighter walk into a bar...

A terrorist, and indeed, regional terrorism, is not a spontaneous phenomenon. Unlike that of the feline. When we gaze into the eyes of a terrorist, we may most certainly find the mystery of their cognition striking. As with a cat. The differentiation of the two however is that a terrorist is a unit in the international system by which the root of its causation is in the actions of the human and their world. As is the case with regional terrorism. It is a distinction, a typology, a 'categorisation'. You shan't arrest me for the employment of a pun, its use it not frivolously so. You see, as with a terrorist, and with regional terrorism, one must first distinguish between what a people or feline is doing as being an abnormality by the standards of the distinguisher. One may spin a globe, or even paw at a globe and watch as its whirls, that wherever upon a finger or claw may fall upon land, that there has at one point or another been an act of terrorism. This is especially true when the nomenclature and specific definitional constructs in the use of the words terrorism, terrorist, region and regional, without sound understanding. As one sifts through the annals, journals, reports, doctrines and legal dictionaries, one finds no one true definition exists. Where there is rigidity in the definition, you will see it done so for a very specific purpose. I suggest to all cats and humans alike who are strategically minded that you must question why this is so, who stands to gain and who stands to lose from such definitional nuisances.

That which is Normal

This then returns us to the importance of avoiding the conflation or misattribution of ones actions as being the actions of a terrorist. Indeed, certain actors in the international system are an aberration of the norm, and this is the challenge of human existence. The human lives in a fluid condition. Conceptions of norms are counter-intuitive to the evolving pressures in human life, and each party has just as much right, yet not might, to determine which is to be the norm. It is quite rare to see norms established upon purely altruistic and moral grounds alone. Nevertheless, as with most things which are counter-intuitive, they serve a great purpose in adding clarity, and degrees of certainty as to how one and a state should conduct itself in the daily life and in the international system.

With the recent passing of the anniversary date of September 11, it may help to remember several things. One is relegating a deemed terrorist to a region in hopes of confining a threat, which is not an answer in and of itself. Just as how a feline has eyes that see constructs yet knows how to navigate through them, either out of enlightenment or aloofness, as is the case with a terrorist who cares not for such things except when they pertain to the advancement of their cause. In today’s globalised world, regional confinement is only temporary, and transnational and global outreach is the new norm.

Geometry of Fighting

One would never hope to succeed in the battle of hearts and minds with a feline through brute force

A further thing to shuffle into one's mind when thinking on regional terrorism is that the use of force as a solution is no elixir in and of itself. One would never hope to succeed in the battle of hearts and minds with a feline through brute force. Massive retaliation is a genuine possibility. Of course, there is a time to be forceful, yet when wondering why, with the most technologically advanced military and in the most interconnected battlefields of human history, we fail to crush regional terrorism; one must never forget the geometry of fighting. The geometry of fighting is a combination of the constructs we use to enable us to fight in a certain way and thus understand winning and losing. When connecting two geometries together, we create a structure, one that allows for the transfer of power, ultimately rendering one defeated. More often than not, in the international system, there are two compatible geometries. However, as with the feline, and with the terrorist, when engaging either to cause their demise, they are simply put, not playing by the same rules. They have different values, norms, and limits and understandings of winning and loss. They have a different mindset regarding what is acceptable when fighting. Such things change the game entirely on what will bring them down. Therefore, the way in which we construct our geometry of fighting must change to be compatible with that of the adversary if we are truly to extinguish the terrorist mind and regional terrorism with it. This is not to say we must stoop to their level, but rather to understand their geometry of fighting so as to undo them. Moreover, and most likely, as with the cat, bringing an incentive rather than only a punishment.

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