Schneier roundhouse-kicks some mendacious terrorism bullshit

August 27, 2006

Schneier on Security: What the Terrorists Want

I’d like everyone to take a deep breath and listen for a minute.

The point of terrorism is to cause terror, sometimes to further a political goal and sometimes out of sheer hatred. The people terrorists kill are not the targets; they are collateral damage. And blowing up planes, trains, markets or buses is not the goal; those are just tactics. The real targets of terrorism are the rest of us: the billions of us who are not killed but are terrorised because of the killing. The real point of terrorism is not the act itself, but our reaction to the act.

And were doing exactly what the terrorists want.

This is a very good piece, go read it.

I’d just like to add that (by coincidence) today I was reading the British Foreign Office travel advice for Turkey (where I’m hopefully going soon), and made the following observations:–

  • The obsession with terrorism is getting out of hand. Well, we knew that, but this is silly. You see, for instance, the Bugarian page starts with the paragraph:–

    Bulgaria shares with the rest of Europe a threat from international terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate and against civilian targets.

    Except, well, in real life it doesn’t, except in the most abstract, “it’s-not-impossible-that-terrorism-could-happen-here” sense. After all, during the whole Northern Irish troubles, there were never bombs in Scotland. The UK government’s obsession with international terrorism is distorting the advice given to it’s people travelling: advice that should be strictly impartial.

  • The other observation is that, on reading the Turkish travel advice, there’s a lot of terrorist activity in that country (compared to say, Norway), but most of it is probably domestic in nature, most likely the dreadful, continuing civil war with the Kurds. It doesn’t actually say who’s doing it.

    The notion of some kind of big, giant, co-ordinated, international, global terrorist conspiracy is a silly fantasy. And a dangerous one.

    But Schneier still implies that the terrorists, are somehow out to “get” America. What sort of culture is he living in? Does he feel pressure to couch his argument in these terms? What does that say about his culture? I don’t know, I’m just asking.

    I suspect they just want American troops out of the Saudi Peninsula. Or their own state, which everyone else seems to be allowed to have. Or for Allah to triumph. Or for Russia to leave. Or whatever. What they want doesn’t neccessarily make sense. And that applies to many single issue activists, even law-abiding ones.

    But there’s more to this than than the peace of mind of us, parochial western citizens. It’s a big world, and there’s plenty going on, right and wrong that we don’t pay attention to. But we should.


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