Claus, one of our regulars, came up with a good question on the last thread. The thread itself was imo jim's attempt to understand what terror/terrorism can generally be assumed to be, by those of us who read and understand and can communicate ideas . . . mike and jim's discussion triggered my comment which in turn allowed for Claus's . . .
So, here we are. And we have a long way to go. And things will have to go a bit slow, which ain't bad, since I have a lot of things to do, and ya'll do too. So, gentlemen, and any ladies out there, let's sit back, take our time, and think this baby out . . .
First off, "my" definition of terrorism:
"violence intended to coerce the enemy rather than weaken him militarily"
Thomas Schelling, Arms and Influence, 1966, page 17.
Or rather Thomas Schelling's definition, which operates within a strict Clausewitzian strategic theory "framework". That is why he can make it in 11 words . . .
Terror/terrorism is a method, not a tactic or a strategy. Schelling is - it should go without saying - a master Clausewitzian theorist.
Terror as simply coercion of course is all about sending a message. The method by which the message is sent allows for any type of political message. In Libya last year and Syria this, the governments intended to send a clear message, that is the tyranny would continue. Resistance is futile. How effective would you judge that to be from the recent history? Elsewhere, where has it been successful, and where not?
Lenin's concept of terror, on the other hand, provided the flip side to his propaganda operations. Coercion to convince any half-believers that the old regime would not be coming back, the "remnants" were rather going to be annihilated. His concept of the absolute enemy was after all a political one . . .
"Al Qaida" terror? Self-defeating. In other words seemingly more the nature of a pawn, or even a distraction?
Does the US use terror? Given this definition, I think you would have to say we do . . .
So, first a definition from you all, and then my second question . . .
In your opinion, what would be the best weapon of terror?