EPIIC Archives

1986 International Terrorism

The implications of terror are profound, reaching the most basic questions of morality, justice, and the fundamental underpinnings of the international system. The nature of the terrorist threat, and the policy the United States government adopts to confront that threat, will have profound consequences for American society and the structure of global relations. The topic is difficult because it arouses feelings of outrage and anger in nearly every observer. Whether the victims are shot by a Salvadoran death squad, blown up by Basque separatists, or thrown down the gangway of a hijacked aircraft, the sudden, seemingly anomic violence of the terrorist touches us with special horror. We are angered, puzzled, stunned. We have struggled to understand "the politics of atrocity" in all its forms, be it revolutionary terrorism or state regimes of terrorism. We have sought to comprehend the resort to terrorism as a political strategy and the repercussions of combatting it. We have also tried to understand the fundamental differences in values and ideologies that prompt the violent cycles of terror and counter-terror and we have tried to imagine ways the international community might limit, if not eliminate this scourge.

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