The Convenient Enemy
No. 2 2005 April/June
Vladislav Inozemtsev

PhD in Economics; he is Head of the Department of World Economy at the Faculty of Public Administration, Lomonosov Moscow State University, and Director of the Center for Post-Industrial Studies.

June 6, 2005, could be a remarkable day in the chronicle of the
ongoing counterterrorism campaign – no less remarkable than July
29, 2005, or September 12, 2007. Is there any relation between
these dates? Yes, there is. The first date is as many days apart
from September 11, 2001, as there were between Japan’s attack on
Pearl Harbor and its capitulation aboard the battleship U.S.S.
Missouri. The second date is separated from September 11 by as many
days as there were in the period of time between Nazi Germany’s
attack on the Soviet Union and the seizure of Berlin. The third
date is six years and one day apart from September 11 – the
duration of World War II, the bloodiest war in human history.

Today, however, there are few signs that the aggression against
the Free World launched in 2001 has been rebuffed, not to mention
its enemy defeated, as convincingly as it was at the end of WWII.
On the contrary, terrorist attacks around the globe continue
unabated: according to the annual Patterns of Global Terrorism
reports published by the U.S. Department of State, there were 296
attacks in 1996, 274 in 1998, 426 in 2000, and 198 in 2002. In
1999, 940 people fell victim to terrorists. In the subsequent
years, the death toll steadily rose: 1,211 people in 2000; 5,800 –
a record high – in 2001; 2,688 in 2002; and 1,888 in 2003.
Unfortunately, there is little hope that the number for 2004 will
appear lower than for the previous years. These somber statistics
do not include those servicemen and civilians who died in the
course of counterterrorist operations.

Besides the human cost of terror, there is the financial cost.
It is practically impossible to calculate the total expenditures in
the fight against terror. But if one assumes that each participant
of the “coalition of the willing” has spent 40 percent of its
defense budget since 2001 for this purpose, the total amount for
the last four years would easily surpass $400 billion. Each act of
this historical drama has failed to convince mankind of the need to
complete the fight; moreover, every time new doubts rise as to the
sincerity of the coalition leaders.

Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to say warningly,
“Unless things go too far…” Things have already gone too far. Thus,
we must analyze what we have experienced, what we have already done
and what chances there are for success in fighting those
individuals whom we quickly labeled – and even quicker made – our


The first difficulty that confronts anyone who decides to
address the problem of terrorism is the lack of a definition. Like
almost any other widely used term, ‘terrorism’ has no clear
interpretation. It is usually used to label any violent action
against the civilian population, intended to provoke panic,
destabilize social institutions and instill fear and vulnerability
in society. According to U.S. Department of State experts,
terrorism is “premeditated, politically motivated violence
perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or
clandestine agents, usually intended to influence the audience.”
But this interpretation is very rarely used to assess actual
developments. Quite often, ‘terrorism’ is used to describe criminal
acts that cannot and should not be considered manifestations of
terrorist activity.
Let’s consider some examples. With each passing day, reports from
Iraq or the North Caucasus detail terrorist car bombings or
terrorist ambushes of military convoys. However, such actions
cannot be considered terrorist in the strict meaning of the word.
Similarly, guerrilla warfare against occupation troops has never
been called ‘terrorism.’ Why, for example, was the assassination of
Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov on May 9, 2004, labeled a
terrorist act, whereas the May 27, 1942, killing of Reinhard
Heydrich, the Reichs-Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, was
described as a successful operation of the Resistance forces? And
if it has become habitual to speak of the assassination of Russian
Czar Alexander II by the members of the Narodnaya Volya (People’s
Will) revolutionary organization as of an act of terror, then why
does no one consider the assassination of President Lincoln a
manifestation of rampant terrorism? The list of such contradictions
could be extended at will.
As a rule, there are three types of political forces that resort to

First, these are social movements that lack broad popular
support and use terrorist methods to attract public attention.
Russia’s Narodnaya Volya of the late 19th century, Italy’s Red
Brigades of the 1970s, Peru’s Tupac Amaru of the 1990s were all of
that kind. As was often the case, terrorist acts committed by
activists of these movements did not win sympathies of their fellow
citizens, and national governments successfully suppressed such

The second kind of political forces is comprised of ethnic
minorities or oppressed peoples seeking independence and
self-determination. By means of terror, they try to force
colonizers to leave their native lands. This was the usual practice
of Algerian terrorists in France in the 1950s, Palestinian
terrorists in the Middle East and throughout the world in the
1960s-1990s, and Chechen militants in Russian cities over the last
decade. History has shown that, in the long run, governments have
to meet the demands of such movements.

The third type is religious or ideological movements whose
adherents may demand non-interference in their affairs, or try to
secure a special status for their faith or ideology. These
movements include, among others, Islamic terrorists organized into
cells such as al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, or Ansar al-Islam. The
“war on terror” has been declared, above all, on such groups and

The above three types of terrorism differ in the methods used to
confront them. The first type requires the effective use of law
enforcement and the usual mechanisms for combating serious crime. A
terrorist organization planning to assassinate a well-known
politician, for example, differs little from a criminal group
planning to kill the leader of a rival gang.

The next case is more involved. On November 2, 1972, the UN
General Assembly passed Resolution No. 2908, Implementation of the
Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries
and Peoples, which reiterated “the legitimacy of the struggle of
colonial peoples and peoples under alien domination to exercise
their right to self-determination and independence by all the
necessary means at their disposal.” Today, it is hardly possible to
differentiate between a legitimate struggle for self-determination
and what is now called separatism. Negotiations with the political
forces representing the terrorists are the main “weapon” in
fighting against this source of terror. This was what Charles de
Gaulle did in France, and what Tony Blair is now doing in Northern

The third type is the least studied and understood. The only
thing that is certain about it is that the struggle against
terrorism of this type must rest on a fundamental understanding of
the purposes and tasks of terrorists; meanwhile, most “fighters
against terror” lack such an understanding.

Thus, armed struggle for self-determination and national
independence, even if it involves methods not approved by
conventions on the rules of warfare (as, for example, in the West
Bank, Chechnya or Iraq), cannot be described as terrorism per se.
Nor can attacks on the soldiers of occupying armies be considered
examples of terrorism. It would not be right to label as terrorism
even individual violent acts against military or political leaders
of the “enemy” nation (for example, firing at the Baghdad hotel
hosting U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz). Terrorism
means violence aimed at those uninvolved in the political processes
that provoke the acts of terror. In other words, terrorism is
violence against people who have no relation to actions that have
provoked the terrorists.

Proceeding from this definition, it seems that to wage a war –
in the strict sense of this word – on terror is impossible;
moreover, there is no need for it. Terrorists do not have a state
on which one could declare a war, or standing armies that should be
destroyed. Therefore, the war on terror is not the same thing as a
struggle against terrorists – which deserves support. The war on
terror is rather a myth created by policymakers seeking to justify
their misdoings. The world needs not so much a counterterrorist war
as an in-depth analysis of the nature of terrorist movements
(again, as opposed to “terrorism,” since the majority of terrorist
organizations define their tasks in different ways), the motives
for terrorists’ attacks, and the conditions that could help
eliminate them.

If one approaches this issue from such positions, the main
“enemy” of the Western world seems to be Islamic terrorism
perpetrated by organizations and groups which (at least, initially)
did not set themselves any applied tasks, such as independence or
political freedom. By attacking the World Trade Center and the
Pentagon on September 11, 2001, members of al-Qaeda, quite
possibly, wished to glorify almighty Allah by delivering strikes
against symbolic centers from where economic and military
aggression against all Muslims was believed to be managed. This is
the reason why the U.S. security services failed to prevent those
attacks. The absence of an understandable goal made it all but
impossible to imagine the potential means for attaining it.

The consequences of 9/11 were precisely what the attackers had
hoped for. The invasion of Afghanistan by coalition troops, and
especially the U.S.-led aggression against Iraq, allowed al-Qaeda
leaders to portray the war on terror as a war of the West against
the Islamic world – and they had strong reasons for this. As George
Soros wrote, “by declaring war on terror and invading Iraq,
President Bush has played right into the terrorists’ hands,” and if
the terrorists “wanted us to react the way we did, perhaps they
understood us better than we understand ourselves.” [Soros, George.
The Bubble of American Supremacy. Correcting the Misuse of American
Power. New York: Public Affairs, 2004, pp. 13, 181.]

Another mistake was the recognition of the events in the North
Caucasus and the Palestinian territories as an integral part of the
worldwide war on terror. As a result, two basically different
processes – the uncompromising struggle of Islamic fundamentalists
against Western ones and the controversial yet obvious attempts of
the Chechen and Palestinian peoples to attain autonomy and
sovereignty – were intermingled. Strictly speaking, it was not so
much the 9/11 tragedy as the subsequent actions of Western powers
that created – almost out of nothing – the global “terrorist
coalition” that the developed world can hardly withstand. It is
this amorphous structure, this mass of vaguely interrelated
semi-autonomous cells and groups known as the “enemy,” which the
present “war” is being directed against.

Now we come face-to-face with perhaps the most important
question that the apologists for the “war on terror” try very hard
to evade: Who began this war and who is the victim of aggression?
Even if we consider the most complex case of the Middle East
conflict, any unbiased observer will agree that Israel was
repeatedly attacked by neighboring Arab states, but acted as the
actual aggressor toward the Palestinians. Today the Jewish state is
combating not Egyptian or Jordanian, but Palestinian, fighters.
Things are similar in Chechnya. A December 1994 decree sanctioned
the introduction of Russian troops into the Chechen Republic,
causing thousands of victims on both sides. With regard to
al-Qaeda, it would not seem just to speak of aggressive actions on
the part of the U.S.; at the same time, however, American military
bases have been stationed in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, the
United Arab Emirates, Oman and many other countries of the region
since the mid-1970s, while there are no Arab military bases close
to Washington, DC. Furthermore, the majority of attacks on American
citizens in the Middle East were directed against military
personnel or governmental officials.

The current outbreak of terror has been caused by the feeling –
intensifying in the Arab world – that Western civilization is
becoming increasingly hostile to Islam. The magnitude of this
outbreak was predetermined by the Western reaction to 9/11 and the
emergence of a “global antiterrorist front,” which encouraged the
extremists to unite.


Immediately after the terrorist attacks on New York and
Washington, DC, Western politicians and experts began to search for
the reasons that had caused al-Qaeda to demonstrate its strength in
such a striking way. It did not take them long to relate the
upsurge of terror to the increasing economic gap between the North
and the South, to the nature and specific features of Islam, and to
other factors.

However, the root of contemporary terrorism cannot be found in
economic inequality. This becomes evident if one looks at the
recent history of the least developed African continent, which is
more characterized by bloody civil wars and ethnic cleansings than
by terrorist activities. Of the 261 known terrorist or paramilitary
organizations, Africa accounts for just 64. Out of this group, 30
operate in Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, nations torn by civil wars. Not a single
African terrorist group is known to have committed acts of terror
outside its country of origin. Nor have the impoverished countries
of Latin America, where terrorist attacks reached their peak in the
1970s and 1980s, been linked to present-day international
terrorism. At the same time, the Islamic world, which is now
recognized as the main source of the terrorist threat, is a rather
rich region, and the most wanted terrorists come from well-off
social groups. Moreover, terrorist activity is believed to bring in
high incomes (the so-called Economy of Terror is estimated at $1.5
trillion). Of course, one can argue that those who perform
terrorist acts are recruited from the poorest areas of the
Palestinian “state,” but there almost everyone has grounds of his
own to become a terrorist, and money only simplifies the choice –
not determines it.

The roots of contemporary terrorism are not to be found in the
political confrontation between two parts of the globe. In the
contemporary world, ‘politics’ means activities related to state
institutions. Terrorist movements, on the contrary, have always
emerged as non-state structures, and their attacks have usually
been directed against states as the most significant symbols of
power. As Noah Feldman has emphasized, the ongoing speculation
about “state terrorism” “strongly suggests, as a descriptive
manner, that our ordinary usage of the term ‘terrorism’ encompasses
only non-state violence.” [Feldman, Noah. What We Owe Iraq: War and
the Ethics of Nation Building. Princeton (NJ), London: Princeton
Univ. Press, 2004, pp. 8-9.] This point of view is undoubtedly
shared by a majority of the expert community. It seems certain that
things will continue to be the same. In the ongoing “war on
terror,” the non-state nature of terrorist groups gives them many
advantages, and identifying a terrorist organization with a certain
state may cause grave consequences for the latter (as confirmed by
Afghanistan’s example).

In my view, the basic reasons for the present upsurge of terror
lie not so much in the realities of our times as in its perception
by popular masses inside the Islamic world. The West now dominates
the globe, but in a highly peculiar way: by minimizing its contacts
with countries that do not belong to it. Trade with African, Middle
Eastern and Asian nations (excluding China and other ‘tigers’)
accounts for a mere 9 percent of the trade turnover of the United
States and the European Union. Oil constitutes two-thirds of this
trade’s value. U.S. and EU investments in those regions are
negligible – not more than 1.8 percent of all American overseas
investments, and about 4 percent of all investments made by EU

Arab countries, whose modernization began in the 1960s, soon
understood that there were prospects for an “easier” existence
through oil exports. Nations that had previously been considered
the more developed, such as Egypt and Syria, found themselves
outsiders in this new situation. The West, above all the U.S., did
nothing to support its potential allies in the region, preferring
to use arm-twisting tactics. At the same time, American cultural
influence in the region was as active as everywhere else in the
world. Therefore, it was no wonder that the local population began
to view the U.S. as a hostile force – a force which supported
Israel, consolidated its military presence in the region and
propagated a way of life that the majority of Arabs do not consider
faithful. Finally, the U.S. sided with semi-feudal regimes lacking
the support of their own subjects. In the eyes of Moslems, the West
became an alien force – invincible militarily, unattainable
economically, yet exploiting their natural wealth and leading them
astray from the path chosen by their ancestors. Today, when one
cites the famous fatwa of Osama bin Laden of February 23, 1998, one
always singles out the part that reads: “To kill the Americans and
their allies – civilians and military – is an individual duty for
every Muslim;” people forget, however, that he declared war on
Americans “in order for their armies to move out of all the lands
of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim.”
[http://www.ict.org.il/articles/fatwah.htm] In this situation it
would be naпve to hope for a reasonable choice by the Moslem
people; most probably, the situation will give way to preferences
of the mob, which has happened many times before in history.

The population of most Arab countries places collective
self-identification higher than individual freedom. Whether this is
connected with Islamic traditions, as many researchers insist, does
not matter much in the context of this analysis. More importantly,
in this self-identification the West is viewed as an “alien” force
that unites Middle Eastern nations looking for a genuine national
identity. Moreover, the more actively the West (above all, the
U.S.) imposes the principles of personal autonomy and political
democracy on the region, the stronger the Islamic opposition will
be and the less chance there will be for Western values to win the
hearts and minds of the local population.

Certainly, contemporary terrorism cannot force the Western world
to revise its basic principles; certainly, it will not give rise to
a “world caliphate,” as some Islamic preachers like to speak about.
Terrorists do not set themselves such goals. Their aspirations are
much more modest – first of all, they want the West to stop
imposing its rules beyond its own boundaries. It is difficult to
deny that these demands are justifiable, if not just.

In the present conditions, militarily powerful and economically
developed countries, integrated into the established system of
international relations, will not resort to terror, understanding
how little they could gain and how much they would lose. Therefore,
terror remains the weapon of the weak, and they began to use it at
a time when America was at the apex of its power, which exceeded
the might of the greatest empires of the past. However, the
military might of this greatest “empire” has not yet produced any
tangible results in the struggle against its principal enemy.

What results can the “war on terror” produce? Will the West be
able to win this war? What consequences will the mutual escalation
of “terrorist” and “antiterrorist” violence have for the Western
world and for mankind as a whole? Will the present international
institutions survive this struggle? These issues are extremely
important, but the ideologists of the “war on terror” rarely raise

Why? First, until recently, the West has never encountered
anything of this kind. Furthermore, Western experts so strongly
believe in the inevitability of the worldwide spread of democracy,
in the prevalence of liberalism, and in the triumph of the rational
over the irrational, that it prevents them from embracing the
entire set of problems that give rise to Islamic terrorism. Second,
correct answers to acute problems are not in demand today. For
modern politics, which has become utterly instrumentalized and void
of strategic vision, the outburst of terrorism has become rather
convenient, however blasphemous this may sound. Politicians
thinking in a narrow time frame (that is, from election to
election) and categorically (“Whoever is not with us is against
us”) have taken avail of the terrorist threat to “discipline” the
population and manipulate the voters. While no serious terrorist
acts have been committed in their homelands, the struggle against
abstract “international terrorism” remains an excellent means of
convincing the population of the complexity of the tasks and
“responsibility” of irresponsible leaders.
A serious analysis of these issues, however, reveals that there are
very few reasons for optimism.

Let’s start with prospects for victory in the “war on terror.”
It seems the West has few chances to emerge victorious. First, it
must deal not so much with attacks from individual extremists as
with a phenomenon based on civilizational values, and on peoples’
aspirations for national identity. The history of the second half
of the 20th century shows that the West has lost every war where
the enemy was fighting for its independence or for its survival as
a cultural community.

The West operates by categories that are much more distant from
reality than before. In the time of decolonization, it at least
recognized the right of peripheral peoples to freedom and
independence. Today, the majority of the Western public believes
that liberal democracy must take root everywhere in the world.
However, putting up with liberty enforced from outside means
ceasing to be free, and it seems that the West does not understand
this – nor does it want to understand this. Western leaders, who
assert that terrorists are the enemies of freedom, are mistaken and
mislead their followers. It must be remembered that terrorists do
not fight against liberty but for the freedom to ignore somebody
else’s advice.

An example comes to mind in this connection, which highlights
the primitive thinking of the American political class, now leading
the “war on terror.” In the 1960s, American Blacks began
campaigning for their rights and for an end to racial segregation,
arguing that they were equal to whites; the U.S. government agreed
with them, and segregation was lifted. Forty years later, however,
they began to insist on their “uniqueness,” not wishing to obey
established rules and demanding special quotas at universities, tax
breaks, additional funding, and so on. Why? Because they considered
themselves different from the whites, and wanted to be treated in a
special way. What happened next? The government introduced
affirmative actions, which many sociologists believe undermines the
fundamental principles of liberalism. Let’s compare all this with
international developments. In the 1960s, newly independent
countries wanted to be “like everybody else.” Today it is clear
that they have failed. Now they speak of their “uniqueness.” But
why were U.S. politicians ready to recognize the “uniqueness” of
their black population but do not consider similar claims of the
Arab world? 9/11 came as a terrible reminder for them, but they
seem to have ignored this first lesson.

So the West has failed to grasp the terrorists’ goals, but in
many other cases it finds similar claims quite legitimate. In other
words, the terrorists have borrowed from the West not only the
ends, but more importantly, the means. Western writings lament that
the fight against terror is difficult because of its networked
nature. Yes, this is really so. But was it not the same
publications that only ten years ago discussed with enthusiasm the
emergence of a networked economy in the U.S., which boosted the
efficiency of transnational corporations? Didn’t they laud the
long-awaited coming of a network society? Well, this society has
arrived, so it is useless to grieve over it. The terrorists have
not invented anything new; they have only used the same weapon
against the Western world that the West itself has been using for
years to ensure its own economic expansion. And nothing more.

Therefore, not only the goals of the terrorists, but also their
means for attaining these goals have not been deeply understood.
Yet there is an even more complicated problem, namely, the question
of what motivates these people. Above, we spoke about possible
goals of the terrorist movement. But acts of terror – which usually
require personal self-sacrifice – are often not gestures of
despair, but acts of personal salvation. Considering the psychology
of the religious fanatics, it may be argued that suicide bombers
actually act rationally, since they believe that killing “infidels”
opens the doors to Heaven for them. This is much more than any cash
rewards that could be promised to their families by terrorist
leaders. Yet the majority of the “fighters against terror” keep
repeating the stories about the “the giant sums” of money used to
fund terror, about mercenaries crossing into Iraq or Chechnya en
masse, and about their achievements in shutting down channels of
terrorists’ funding. But let’s compare some figures: the
destruction of the World Trade Center and the attack on the
Pentagon cost the terrorists less than $500,000, while the opium
trade now revived in Afghanistan is estimated at billions of
dollars. Russia’s funding of now “legitimate” Chechen government
amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars. Is it really any wonder
then that terror continues to intensify?

The terrorists were either brought up in a situation of
permanent cruelty and uncertainty about the future or they have
voluntarily condemned themselves to such a life (this refers, above
all, to their leaders). A well-known Palestinian extremist, Abu
Mahaz, said in 1993, “We are terrorists; yes, we are terrorists,
because it is our faith.” The intensification of the struggle
against them can only embitter the adherents of this movement and
enlarge their ranks, mostly due to religious and ethnic solidarity.
In contrast, most citizens of Western countries will never
sacrifice their personal freedoms or wellbeing; therefore, they
will support the fight against terror only until it brings about
serious political or economic upheavals. This is why terrorist
attacks will increasingly serve to undermine the “coalition of the
willing,” while attacks on the terrorists will only strengthen
their ranks.

The four years that have passed since the beginning of the “war
on terror” have proven that people in Western countries require
tangible evidence of success. For the time being, the antiterrorist
coalition can boast of the overthrow of the Taliban, the
elimination of al-Qaeda camps, the liberation of Afghanistan, the
removal of Saddam Hussein from power, and the occupation of Iraq.
However, these measures have already cost the U.S. and its allies
hundreds of billions of dollars, while the prospects for success
are not yet evident. The flow of opium from Afghanistan is growing;
Iraq is still a long way from stability; and American unilateralism
understandably inspires other countries to gain access to nuclear
weapons. The situation in Saudi Arabia, not to mention Pakistan,
the only Moslem country to possess WMD, remains unstable.

The “war on terror” also has many indirect costs, from
skyrocketing oil prices to the crisis in the air transportation and
the tourist industry. Eventually, even American military
contractors, now satisfied with their new defense orders and
increasing government spending, will see that no one stands to gain
from the reckless U.S.-initiated operation. Meanwhile, the
terrorists only need to add fuel to the hysteria launched by
Western leaders to see the collapse of their policy.
All this suggests the possible conclusion that a new round in the
war against terror, like the previous attempts to counter
international terrorism (not ultra-leftist terrorism within
individual European countries), will end in defeat for the

Special mention should be made of the damage that the war
against terror is doing to the unity of the Western world. Suffice
it to recall the situation when the U.S. invaded Iraq in the spring
of 2003. A long-awaited reform of the United Nations has recently
been initiated. However, it is quite possible that it will fail
because of the completely different attitudes to threats and
challenges in the United States, Russia and, partly, Great Britain,
on the one hand, and in continental European countries, on the
other. The perception of one’s own country as a “besieged fortress”
and the rest of the world as a combination of various kinds of
“axes of evil” is unproductive and only broadens opportunities for


The history of the “war on terror” suggests that this war was
destined to begin because politicians around the world desperately
needed an enemy that would meet certain criteria. This enemy had to
be dangerous and not linked with major Western countries. It must
be stationed in areas that could be attacked without retaliation;
the enemy must remain invisible, while the struggle against it must
continue for an indefinite period. The effectiveness of the fight
should remain undeterminable. Finally, the need to counter this
enemy must justify serious restrictions of citizens’ rights, and an
increase in expenditures allocated to this struggle must not
provoke popular objections.

“International terrorism” fits all these criteria ideally. In
the politics of the last few years, this concept has played the
same role as “globalization” played in economic practices of recent
decades. Until the middle of the 20th century, interaction between
Europe and the U.S., on the one hand, and the rest of the world, on
the other, was called “Westernization,” which was believed to be
universal in terms of time and geographical scope. Also, the model
of technological society, with all its attributes, ranging from
mass consumption to liberal democracy, was viewed as easily
reproducible and therefore widely applicable. However, this
“universal” model presupposed that the West would be responsible
for its worldwide propagation. Champions of globalization do not
care much about the unprecedented increase in the gap between rich
and poor countries that has occurred in the last few decades. To
them, it is more important that they can explain any economic
problem as the “objective globalization process” and wash their
hands of it. The notion of “international terrorism” has provided
politicians with a convenient tool for evading reality (and
responsibility), like the notion of “globalization” has allowed
economists to do the same. It would be naпve to assume that
politicians will not take avail of this new opportunity.

These considerations do not inspire much hope for an early end
to the “war on terror.” Even if the present antiterrorist coalition
ceases to exist, which I do not doubt, the “struggle” will
continue, although perhaps in other forms, since the ruling elites
of all the countries involved – the United States, Russia, Great
Britain, Poland and many others – are vitally interested in it. Not
the peoples of these countries, but their leaders. They are
interested in exaggerating the terrorist threat and in destroying
ever more terrorists – precisely in killing them, as Aslan
Maskhadov’s case shows, rather than in bringing them to an open
trial, as they had promised to their people. The ruling elites are
also interested in building up defense spending, restricting civil
rights, and many other things that cannot all be discussed in this
brief article.
Does this mean that the murderous acts of terror may continue
without retaliation? Of course not, but we must observe obvious and
indisputable rules in the struggle against the terrorist

First, it is necessary to draw a clear distinction between armed
groups fighting for self-determination and independence and
terrorists acting in the name of ideological and religious goals.
In the first case the problems can be solved through negotiations.
A positive example is provided by British Prime Minister Tony
Blair’s efforts to achieve a political solution to the conflict in
Northern Ireland through negotiations with the IRA’s “political
wing.” Much progress has been made in Spain, as violence in the
Basque areas has subsided over the last few years. Also, the Middle
East peace process has been stepped up since Mahmoud Abbas’
election as Palestine’s president.

Of course, negotiations with religious fanatics are hardly
possible; actually, there is no need for them, since the demands
made by al-Qaeda and Islamic Jihad terrorists do not provide for
any political arrangements. Islamic extremists are not a political
force that is conducive to negotiations. They cannot assume
reliable commitments, and there is no means to pressure them if
they fail to respect agreements.

Second, even now that we have established that peace (the
ultimate goal of all wars) cannot be achieved with some of the
terrorists, against whom the notorious “war on terror” is now being
waged, it would be a mistake to say that this war must be aimed at
their complete extermination. As was mentioned above, the more
actively individual terrorists are destroyed, the more their fellow
coreligionists sympathize with the goals of their movement. By way
of example one can cite the situation in the West Bank, Gaza Strip,
and Chechnya. Therefore, tactics of the struggle against terror
must differ, depending on where this struggle is occurring, in
Western countries or beyond.

In the first case, terrorist acts must be classified as grave
crimes – murder or attempted murder with aggravating circumstances.
Accordingly, those convicted of such deeds must be neutralized;
agents must infiltrate these criminal organizations; channels
through which criminals receive financial support and weapons must
be shut down; the inflow of immigrants from countries where the
“main forces” of major terrorist organizations are located must be
restricted. The monitoring of immigrants from particular countries
may be introduced as a necessary and, therefore, acceptable
measure, albeit an unpleasant one. The above efforts will help
reduce terrorist activities in Western countries. Strangely enough,
the United States is the most successful example in this respect.
Not a single terrorist act has been committed there since 9/11.
This can be explained not by the decimation of al-Qaeda fighters
hiding in Afghan mountains far from New York, but by the toughened
security measures inside the U.S.

In the second case, it is necessary to adopt tough rules of
conduct toward nations from which terrorist groups operate. These
states, which include many Middle Eastern countries, must be denied
any aid from the developed world; they must not be sold any weapon
systems; they must be warned about the inadmissibility of
possessing weapons of mass destruction (incidentally, this refers
mostly to Pakistan, a close U.S. ally); trade and economic
cooperation with these states must be reduced; and so on. If the
peoples of these countries prefer to preserve their way of life,
their traditions and religious “purity,” their aims should be
respected. Moreover, a demonstrative “retreat” of the West from the
region, coupled with tough measures against an extension of the
Islamic jihad onto the territory of developed countries, would
cause problems for Islamic extremists, who have neither a positive
program nor the desire to work one out. As follows from the example
of underdeveloped countries, the best way to discredit a populist
movement is to let it try to achieve the goals it proclaims. Its
true capabilities will become evident very soon. If we “leave the
Islamic world to the mercy of fate,” we will by no means betray the
ideals of freedom and humanism. Western values will be assimilated
not where the West manages to bring them, but where there is a real
and conscious demand for them. Liberty is not important per se;
much more important is freedom hard won. Unless Moslem peoples feel
the need for Western values and a yearning for freedom, it will be
impossible – and needless – to impose these values and freedom on
Those who have declared the “war on terror” have no love lost for
terrorists. And they have all grounds for that. But, unfortunately,
they have forgotten an old truth: the opposite of love is not
hatred, but indifference.