`TERRORISM` may well be the currently most bandied-about word in the world`s lexicon. Governments lose sleep over it, citizenries live in fear of it and the news is full of it.
We in Pakistan have come to know it well. We know only too well the split nature of the debate: what ideology drives terrorism and how valid is it? Might we agree with the ideology/goal even if not the tactics used? And, subjectively, is the mot juste `terrorism` or `freedom fighting`?
As with most such matters (and one only has to look at the case of Kashmir or Soviet-occupied Afghanistan for illumination) one man`s terrorist is another`s freedom fighter.
The etymology of the word sheds some scant light over the lack of agreement. As nearly as I have been able to pin down, the word `terrorism` dates from the French `Reign of Terror` (1793-94) — the Jacobin government`s efforts to nullify opposition to the French Revolution.
In randomly researching this subject, a book that I read years ago re-presented itself to me for attention. Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism by Robert Pape, specialist in international security politics and professor in political science, was published in 2005.
Back then, the book caused waves because it suggested a (fruitless) fundamental rethink in the manner in which the US was, policy-wise, reacting to the 9/11 attacks.
Focusing purely on the suicide bombing phenomenon of terrorism, Prof Pape compiled a database of every suicide bombing and attack around the world from 1980 to 2003: 315 known incidents in all. He defined a suicide attack as one in which “at least one terrorist killed himself or herself while attempting to kill others; [excluding] attacks authorised by a national government, for example by North Korea against the South”.
The book gained prominence because it suggested — contrary to the US-led discourse of the time (and, arguably, continuing) — that “there is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic...