Rafik Hariri Center Nonresident Senior Fellow H.A. Hellyer writes for The National on the effects of current choices on the future of terrorism:
The so-called War on Terror began in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in 2001. More than 14 years later, the enemy has not been overcome. If any thing, it has multiplied and diversified – and we must now recognise that we live in a new kind of world.
There is the temptation to think everything starts with the Paris attacks, but that would be a grave error.
It did not start with Paris, even if we limit the definition of “terrorism” to the use of vigilante violence against civilians and leave out the acts of illegal violence and brutality by state forces. Neither did it did start with New York in 2001. On the contrary, as well as Paris there was Beirut, there was Baghdad, there was Mali, there was Tunisia – and the list goes on. Before New York, there were other heinous acts of terrorism.
The real difference isn’t about whether terrorism actually took place. Rather, it is about a large-scale security breach that took place against a modern, developed Western state, and one which claimed the lives of large numbers of people.
The concern, therefore, around terrorism as it affects the lives of citizens in the West, is really what the raising of the tempo is all about. Citizens of France and Belgium today are feeling what the people of Beirut and Tunis have been feeling for years. But unlike Tunisians and the Lebanese, the West has the political clout to make things change.