Israel continue to attack and oppress Palestine as international superpowers stand back and watch. We see Greece being given – eventually – another tranche Troika loan with the ‘success’ of this austerity driven bailout being measured by the positive market responses, not the thousands of people who are paying for a short-term capital expansion promoted by Northern European and powerful banks that ‘helped’ Greece through measures such as currency swaps to hide the true nature of their debt so they could get access to cheap and fast credit.
The GIPS countries – Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain – all suffered from this mentality of short-term, private credit driven investment. But it is ordinary people paying the price, especially since the 1970s as the Bretton Woods System collapsed, exchange rates became more volatile and private credit spiraled out of control but rescued by controversial damaging IMF bailouts in places such as East Asia (1997/8) and Argentina (2001). Spain are currently restructuring their banking system after being exposed to such effects, but here we see the idea of a bail in – where private creditors take responsibility before taxpayers pay for the irresponsible investments – utilised so it is ordinary people picking up the bill again!
Given this, it is interesting to consider the idea of what terrorism is. As we discussed in a recent university seminar, terrorism refers to actions and practices that are designed to create fear, with a clear political aim often utilising violence. Judged on this basis, then, what Isreal are doing to Palestine is state terrorism – but the media focuses on Hamas as terrorists and Israel’s actions as self-defense. It’s as much self-defense as Bush utilising the Resolution 1368 after 9/11 to invade Afghanistan.
Then, we look at international organisations such as the IMF (largely controlled by the US), regional organisations such as Europe in terms of the Eurozone (dominated by Germany) and specifically the Troika (European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF) and then national states such as the UK’s slash and burn approach to ‘solving’ the economic crisis – the neoliberal shock doctrine is in place across the globe and this is by definition state terrorism as it has a clear political aim and ideology behind it, creating fear and also utilising force – both directly like the police and indirectly such as Germany or the IMF threatening to not pay loans if conditions aren’t met – to ram through the prescribed changes and hardship to ordinary people.
Robert Pape has conducted some influential research into how geographical factors and foreign interference are key to creating terrorist responses and organisations.
Some of the key points to take from the video include:
- 95% of suicide terrorist attacks around the world have strategic objectives of trying to drive a state’s combat forces out of their territory, of which the terrorist considers their homeland. Territory, not religion, is key. For instance, when Israel invaded Lebanon in June 1982 Hezbollah did not exist, but one month later Hezbollah formed.
- He studied data of 71 individuals who killed themselves carrying out attacks for Osama Bin Laden. The largest number, 34, came from Saudi Arabia and a large majority from the Arabian Peninsula where the US first began to station combat forces in 1990. 1990 was the watershed year in combat deployment in Arabian Peninsula – most before were advisors. Al-Qaeda attacks started in 1995.
- The main cause of secular and religious suicide terrorism is foreign occupation!
Essentially, it is key to question what terrorism means and how political economy is central to this definition and the consequences of this. Political economy and historical oppression is central to the creation of terrorist responses say in terms of Rwanda after years of colonial divide and rule or say in terms of our role in the Palestine-Israel affair and the continual role we have in maintaining these divisions. Most state and financial terrorism is however seen as legitimate use of power and authority. But as the old saying goes: one person’s freedom fighter is another person’s terrorist.