Terrorism—What Is the Answer?
IF YOU travel by air at all, you have seen for yourself the effects of terrorism. Security checks are mandatory at nearly all international airports. Terrorism is costing governments and airlines a fortune in security measures. At the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, security cost the U.S. government some $65 million. How effective are these measures?
In some respects they are paying off. Over the last 20 years, in the United States alone, some 35,000 pistols or explosive devices have been found and 13,000 arrests made. (Department of State Bulletin) El Al, the Israeli airline, which has perhaps the strictest security check of all, has drastically cut down terrorist success in the air.
However, governments and agencies are really dealing with symptoms rather than causes. Their remedies do not get to the root cause for a disease that goes deep into modern society—a disease based on hatred and selfishness. Injustices and inequalities abound and multiply—whatever the prevailing ideology may be. Therefore, where can an answer be found? Can religion change hatred to love? Can politics bring unity out of disunity? Can the United Nations really unite the nations? Or is there some other answer?
Does Religion Have the Answer?
The terrorist situation that has prevailed in Northern Ireland since 1969 has taken over 2,000 lives, with more than 20,000 injured in a country of some 1.5 million. The antagonists profess to share the same Christian heritage, based on the premise that “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) Yet Catholic and Protestant terrorism continue. As John Hickey writes in Religion and the Northern Ireland Problem: “It is possible now . . . to accept danger or death as a consequence simply of being a Roman Catholic or a Protestant; to accept savage retaliation—sectarian murders—as the way of keeping Northern Ireland’s particular version of the ‘balance of terror.’”
The same writer also states: “Politics in [Northern Ireland] is not politics exploiting religion. . . . It is more a question of religion inspiring politics.” And if that is the case, it is the politics of mutual murder and revenge.
Most religions claim to teach love as a basic maxim. A high percentage of terrorists have a religious affiliation—professed Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, or other. But how far does their religion influence their actions? In his book The Ultimate Weapon—Terrorists and World Order, Jan Schreiber quotes IRA leader Ruairi O’Bradaigh: “I was with a very hard man once. We’d set up a mine together, to go off under a party of British soldiers. . . . Sure enough, they were right on target. And what did this hard fellow do? Just before making the connection, to explode the mine and blow them all to smithereens, he closed his eyes. Then he crossed himself and whispered devoutly: ‘May the Lord, now, have mercy on their souls!’”
Religion has not prevented right-wing Catholics in Spain from forming their own terrorist group, known as the Guerrilleros del Cristo Rey, or Guerrillas of Christ the King. According to the writers of The Terrorists, the Guerrilleros “owe their existence to religion as much as to politics.”
Should religion’s failure to stem terrorism surprise us? Professor C. E. Zoppo, of the University of California’s political science department, writes: “Organized religions in the West, when confronted with the uses of violence for political purposes, denied their religious enemies those moral rights that they promoted among their followers . . . and even permitted terrorism against the ‘infidels.’” He continues by citing the Holy Crusade in the time of Pope Urban II. He states: “The Crusade was expected to subdue Islam permanently and was considered a ‘war to end wars.’ Islam was regarded as the incarnation of all the forces of evil, so whereas killing an enemy Christian soldier would earn a Christian soldier forty days’ penance, killing Muslims became the ‘epitome of all penance.’”—The Rationalization of Terrorism.
Other religions also attribute merit to the killing of an unbeliever, or infidel. They believe it is a passport to their heavenly paradise. Therefore, a terrorist’s religious faith can actually strengthen his motivation to murder and even to carry out suicide bombing.
Is There a Political Solution?
Political and military experts in the West have their answers for terrorism, even though not always united in their application of them. The policy of victim nations right now is to fight fire with fire. William Casey, director of the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) states: “We cannot and will not abstain from forcible action to prevent, preempt, or respond to terrorist acts where conditions merit the use of force. Many countries, including the United States, have the specific forces and capabilities we need to carry out operations against terrorist groups.”—Hydra of Carnage.
The United States raid on Libya in April 1986, in retaliation for a terrorist bomb explosion at a Berlin nightclub, illustrates that philosophy. But it also exacts an immediate price—civilian casualties in Libya, viewed as unavoidable by U.S. authorities, and the loss of a U.S. plane with its crew. Terrorism and counterterrorism also have their hidden price—prestige and credibility.
The politicians and militarists view these as normal sacrifices in this form of covert warfare. As Benjamin Netanyahu writes: “All citizens in a democracy threatened by terrorism must see themselves, in a certain sense, as soldiers in a common battle. They must not pressure their government to capitulate or to surrender to terrorism. . . . If we seriously want to win the war against terrorism, people must be prepared to endure sacrifice and even, should there be the loss of loved ones, immeasurable pain.”—Terrorism—How the West Can Win.
Then could the underlying causes of terrorism be removed by politics? Could injustices be righted and the situation defused? Not according to political commentators. Why not? Because, as we have seen in our previous article, they say that much of terrorism is just another tool in the clash between the two great political systems. Therefore, politics breeds terrorism.
As an example, French writer and journalist Jean-François Revel wrote: “In their manifestos and books, the terrorists describe their attacks on democracies as the ‘strategy of tension.’ The idea is that it is much easier to go from fascism to communism than from democracy to communism. The ‘revolutionaries’ must therefore first push the democratic governments toward a fascist pattern of behavior so as to build, in the second phase, socialism on the ashes of fascism.” Thus, in some countries terrorists will deliberately murder military officers in order to provoke a right-wing military coup.
Can the UN Stem the Tide?
Political scientist C. E. Zoppo explained the quandary that the UN finds itself in: “It is not surprising . . . that the United Nations has not been able to reach any agreement on what constitutes international terrorism or on what would be appropriate responses by the member states.” It should not be surprising to anyone when we realize that the UN is an international arena in which the major powers, like fighting elks, lock their horns in battle and become immobilized by semantics.
Another factor is that in the UN the democratic victim-nations of terrorism find themselves in a minority. As Zoppo illustrated: “A U.N. General Assembly resolution on international terrorism . . . while ‘deeply perturbed over acts of international terrorism,’ reaffirmed ‘the inalienable right to self-determination and independence of all peoples under colonial and racist regimes and other forms of alien domination.’” This same resolution condemned “the continuation of repressive and terrorist acts by colonial, racist, and alien regimes in denying peoples their legitimate right to self-determination and independence.”
Thus, according to Zoppo, the UN has approved a double standard on terrorism. He continues: “Implicitly, terrorism is condoned when it is a means to national self-determination and condemned when it is state terror to prevent independence. Newly established nations, having used terrorism themselves as a tool for liberation, find condemning it in others awkward.” (The Rationalization of Terrorism) Therefore, as an effective instrument against terrorism, the UN is stymied. Morality does not prevail because, as Zoppo concludes, “politics basically defines what is moral.” In the meantime, the innocent victims of terrorism suffer and die.
A Brotherhood Without Terror
Jan Schreiber explains the dilemma the nations face: “The disconcerting fact is that those countries wishing to eliminate terrorism from the world—and they do not appear to be in a majority—are forced to content themselves with halfway measures. Either the standard punishments do not impress terrorists dedicated to making sacrifices for the sake of an ideology, or they call forth a violent response from those still able to fight.”—The Ultimate Weapon—Terrorists and World Order.
In his analysis of the problem, Professor Zoppo concludes: “Hardly a modern nation was born without terror.” That would seem to indicate that terror is an unavoidable ingredient of the political process. Yet we can affirm that there is one “nation” that has been formed without terror or violence—or political intervention. It is a nation numbering over three million, of peoples from all over the world, drawn from different cultures, languages, and religions. Who are they? The people who call on you with this magazine—Jehovah’s Witnesses.
They are more than an international association of people. They are a supranational brotherhood, who now share a common belief and God-given hope. They are spreading their influence worldwide, not by terrorism, but by peaceable Bible education. In virtually every nation of the earth, they are recommending God’s Kingdom government by Christ as the only solution to mankind’s problems.—Matthew 6:9, 10.
Yes, Jehovah’s Witnesses have risen above divisive politics and nationalism, which result in wars and terrorism. They now form a people living in genuine peace, and they are preparing for the time, very soon, when the earth will be ruled only by God’s Kingdom. That will not be brought about by world conversion but by a world cleansing at God’s war of Armageddon.—Matthew 24:37-39; Revelation 16:14, 16.
Then, true peace and everlasting life will be the portion of the meek of the earth. (Titus 1:2; Revelation 21:3, 4) If you would like to know more about this Kingdom, where terrorism will be no more, please feel free to contact Jehovah’s Witnesses in your community or write to the publishers of this magazine in your country.
[Blurb on page 11]
Over the last 20 years, in the United States alone, some 35,000 pistols or explosive devices have been found and 13,000 arrests made.—Department of State Bulletin
[Blurb on page 12]
“Just before making the connection, to explode the mine and blow them all to smithereens, he closed his eyes. Then he crossed himself and whispered devoutly: ‘May the Lord, now, have mercy on their souls!’”
[Box on page 14]
God’s Kingdom by Christ Jesus Will Remove Terrorism
Terrorism is said to be the warfare of the desperate who feel themselves at a disadvantage. Under God’s Kingdom no one need feel at a disadvantage, as can be seen in the following prophecies pertaining to rule by Christ Jesus:
“O God, give your own judicial decisions to the king, and your righteousness to the son of the king. May he plead the cause of your people with righteousness and of your afflicted ones with judicial decision. Let him judge the afflicted ones of the people, let him save the sons of the poor one, and let him crush the defrauder. For he will deliver the poor one crying for help, also the afflicted one and whoever has no helper. He will feel sorry for the lowly one and the poor one, and the souls of the poor ones he will save. From oppression and from violence he will redeem their soul, and their blood will be precious in his eyes.”—Psalm 72:1, 2, 4, 12-14.