Put aside, for a moment, the NewSpeak nature of the word “terrorism” and how the War on Terror is a war that can never be won. The pertinent topic at hand is the effect of publicised violence campaigns by non-governmental individuals or groups, which I will loosely be referring to as “terrorism.” The initiation of violence is always morally appalling, but it only counts as terrorism, in both the NewSpeak definition and the context here, when it is not state-sanctioned. Play along with my definition, for now, even though we can all see that terrorism is much more common out of government agents than it is out of private actors or groups – and that does not make it any more moral.
In movies and reality, the “maverick” politicians make a point to state “we don’t negotiate with terrorists.” I suppose the logic behind the statement is that “terrorists are too evil to be treated as a human” or possibly “well, if we negotiate with these terrorists and save all these people, who says that the next terrorists won’t become terrorists because they know we negotiate?”
The truth of the matter, on the other hand, is that terrorism does work, and ever since 9/11, government officials have been stampeding just in the direction that terrorists want them to. These actions, whether it be 9/11 or the underwear bomber, have pushed us into a security/police state that is now impossible to curtail (too many “jobs are being created,” after all). In reality, where the 9/11 mass murder of 3,000 people should have been written off as an insured risk corresponding to the cost of empire, we instead invaded two countries, killed hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children, and simultaneously created many enemies abroad. The retaliation shows we are willing to negotiate with terrorists, and trade them things, it is merely ex post facto.
We are terrorized. Think about the Boston Bomber incident. 3 people were killed, many others injured. This is probably not a scenario different from the accidental deaths and injuries that happen every day in the municipality of Boston, but the perpetraitors caused a citywide shutdown, mass deployment of National Guard and militarized police, and a huge violation of the citizenry’s economic and civil rights. Can you imagine the results of an actual attack on a city, organized by some paramilitary or soveriegn-government-financed force? We would lose our minds. The country would become a prison. We would suspend the Constitution altogether. Fear is a terrible motivator, but it counts. Apparently we do negotiate with terrorists: we trade them our rights in fear for their evils. Terrorism is working.