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Is Terrorism Getting Worse?

by جنوری 19, 2017 English, صفحہ اول
Is Terrorism Getting Worse?
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These days, terrorism seems not just more lethal and more common, but more widespread. The death toll in recent weeks speaks for itself: 22 people dead in Bangladesh, 49 gone in the United States, 44 gone in Turkey, 292 gone in Iraq, then another 37, another 12, yet another 12.

And by one oft-cited measure—the Institute for Economics and Peace’s Global Terrorism Index—that’s true. As a rough representation of the global threat of terrorism nearly 15 years after the 9/11 attacks—nearly 15 years after George W. Bush declared that his “war on terror” would “not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated”—the findings are extremely disheartening. War, they suggest, has only brought more terror.

Deaths From Terrorism, 2000 — 2014

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In 2015, terrorist attacks occurred in almost 100 countries—up from 59 in 2013—according to the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database, which the Institute for Economics and Peace relies on for its analysis. ISIS, for its part, appears increasingly to be training its sights on overseas targets as it loses territory in Iraq and Syria.

In 2015, terrorist attacks occurred in almost 100 countries—up from 59 in 2013—according to the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database, which the Institute for Economics and Peace relies on for its analysis. ISIS, for its part, appears increasingly to be training its sights on overseas targets as it loses territory in Iraq and Syria.

Donald Trump asks why they hate us—why jihadists have it out for Americans. But the data shows that terrorism today is not about us, at least not primarily. Though they may profess hatred of Westerners, terrorists are largely tormenting conflict zones like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.

Civil wars like the ones in these countries are particularly potent breeding grounds for terrorist groups, Byman has argued—and this is one reason terrorism has gotten so bad in the greater Middle East.

یہ بھی پڑھئے:   جوانانِ جنت کے سردار، اِمام حسن المجتبی علیہ السلام ۔ حنان صدیقی

In explaining why this happens, Byman compared terrorism to robbery. You can think about robbery in terms of grievances: “Why do people steal? Because they’re poor and they want something.” Or you can think about it in terms of capability: “Why do they do it? Because they can. … You and I might steal, if there was no penalty—if we could walk into a jewelry store and take stuff and there were no cops.”

Civil wars increase both grievances and capability, Byman said. They produce vicious cycles of grievances—“you could be displaced from your home, your brother could be shot.” And they produce capability by gutting government authority. If 40 people tried to overthrow the U.S. government, he said, they might kill some people, but they’d also be arrested. But if the U.S. government isn’t functioning because the country’s gripped by civil war, those same 40 people can overtake a town and swell their ranks. “Wars in general create opportunities for groups, and at the same time create grievances that groups feed on,” Byman noted.

Which is why one of the signature features of the “war on terror”—the invasion of Iraq—ended up unleashing more terrorism. “When a stable government is destabilized and collapses, that’s very bad from a counterterrorism point of view,” said Byman. This is true with or without massive U.S. involvement, as Syria’s civil war demonstrates.

 Both civil wars offer muddled lessons for how a future President Trump or Clinton should design U.S. counterterrorism policy, according to Byman. He suggested an approach not unlike that which Barack Obama has pursued: “I end up with: Bad things are going to happen, and what we need is some degree of offensive [military] capability to keep the bad guys off balance, we need aggressive global cooperation to go after the global web [of terrorists], we need some homeland defenses, and we need … domestic resilience because some attacks will happen. I look at [the attack in] San Bernardino in particular and say, ‘I don’t know what really could have been done [to prevent] that one, with all the benefit of hindsight.’”
In several countries in the Middle East, he said, people have good reason to feel gravely threatened by terrorism. But elsewhere in the world, it’s more that people are paying greater attention to the terrorist threat than they used to. “We’re labeling things ‘terrorism,’ where before it would have been seen in the context of civil wars,” Byman argued. “It screws up our basic understanding of the most important question, which is: Are things getting worse?”
Written By: URI FRIEDMAN
Posted on: theatlantic.com
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