What is the best way for America to combat terrorism? That question is bound to loom large as we enter the next presidential race.
What is the best way for America to combat terrorism?
That question is bound to loom large as we enter the next presidential race.
Yet a coherent answer has not yet emerged because there is confusion over exactly what terrorism is.
In my essay Understanding Tyranny and Terror: From the French Revolution to Modern Islamism, I argue that terrorists must be understood as motivated by a utopian vision that seeks to impose, by force, a monolithic collective in which all individual liberties are erased.
This is nothing new, and first began with the Jacobin Terror of 1793 and continued through Bolshevism, Nazism, Maoism, and the Khmer Rouge.
Today it can be seen within the International Jihad.
Poverty and lack of opportunity are not the “root causes” of terrorism.
In fact, many terrorists come from affluent backgrounds or already live in liberal democracies with their widespread opportunities.
Rather, terrorists are revolutionaries inspired by the vision of a coming collectivist paradise that will annihilate the allegedly corrupt, materialistic West.
The most important lesson to keep in mind is that terrorists are tyrants in waiting.
Three kinds of tyranny have emerged throughout history and still exist today.
The oldest and still the most widespread are garden-variety kleptocracies, in which a single ruler exploits an entire society as if it were his private property (think Bashar al Assad).
The second kind is the tyrant as reformer — men like Julius Caesar, or Napoleon, who seek glory through benefiting their peoples.
The third type I call millenarian.