Saturday, July 26, 2008

Can Individual Terrorists be Stopped?

Stopping an individual from committing a violent act against another is extremely hard to prevent. Such is the case with stopping individual terrorist. This is for a few reasons.

First, almost anything can be used as a weapon. To illustrate this point, look around you right now. Make a mental list of everything you see that if you life depended on it you could use to defend yourself and/or attack another, and everything you could not use. Chances are good that the first list is longer. If not, you may not be as creative as these terrorists unfortunately are. Now think of what you could go out and legal buy that could be used to attack someone whom your would be surprise attacking. The enormity of your potential choices should be chilling when you think that about the fact that their are some people who spend their time thinking of little else, and you and your family are their targets. It is simply not possible to prevent potential weapons, conventional or otherwise, from getting into the hands of terrorists

Second, everyone is a target. Terrorists do not try to avoid women and children; they are the preferred targets because they are generally less able to protect themselves. It is infeasible to offer a level of protection to every man, woman, and child, to keep them completely safe from terrorist.

The bottom line is that if someone wants to sow death and destruction, it is almost impossible to stop them. Therein lie the key to curtailing terrorism; destroy the want.

Side note; other methods such as cutting off sources of funding and destroying terrorist networks (or their infer structures) are some of the most effective methods of curtailing organized terrorism. This post is focused mainly on the terrorist individual.

Destroying the want can be achieved in more ways than one, but should never include appeasement. History has taught use that appeasement does not work. What will could depend highly on the individual terrorist in question. The goal is to block his potential additional hidden goals; the goals beyond terrorism.

For example, some of the terrorists committed their heinous acts in part because of the pay off their family was getting. That is, their families received money if they were able to successfully carry out their attack. The hidden goal here is to help out his family. To block this hidden goal, you have to be willing to punish the terrorist family. If the terrorist knew for certain that if they were successful in their attack that his families house would be bulldozed and they would be deported (and hence be much worse off then before), the potential terrorist may be persuaded not carry out the attack.

Other hidden goals require other methods to block. In order to be effective, these methods must be aggregated and actually used. This tends to be the sticking point. People may be uncomfortable punishing those whom themselves had nothing to do with the attack. It is also true that if their are no hidden goals, and the terrorist either does not care (or at least believe the benefits of their attack out way the hardship that will be inflicted) on the people they care about, does not have anyone they care about, or does not believe that anything will be done to the people they care about, this method carried out flawlessly would still not be able to put a stop terrorism. Though as mentioned originally, it would curtail it to only the type of people listed above.

So, the answer to the question of if individual terrorists can be stopped is a very unsatisfying maybe. Some likely can, others likely can not; though the goal should not stop at prevention. As a necessary fall back to prevention, limiting the damage of any given attack is critical for the attacks that occur.

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