Adding to the recent devastation of highly publicized terrorists attacks in Canada and Australia, the so-called “Paris terror attacks,” claimed the lives of 17 individuals this week. Sadly, these recent events are only part of a much larger history of violence that continues to rock the world. Beyond terrorism, mass shootings have become commonplace in the United States while violent crime in generally plagues all communities of the world to varying degrees.
In modern society, violence is seen as a disruptive force that undermines the very fabric of community and destroys the accomplishments of the human race. For more than a century, especially since the Cold War, the developed world has managed to suppress the violent side of human nature so well that events involving brutal and widespread destruction spark massive outrage and grievance throughout the International Community.
For much of the developing world, however, unchecked violent crime is normal while war is commonplace. That said, the fallout of violence is just as devastating to those who experience the horror and pain of crime, terrorism, and war on a daily basis as those who are luckily enough to live in stable countries. In other words, terrorism periodically happens in the West, yet the Peoples of violence plagued, unstable regions, e.g. the Middle East, Africa, etc., must cope with it on a daily basis.
Where nations could once focus on their own national security, centuries of globalization have gradually created the need to guard against threats from all over the world. In the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, the American People were thoroughly shocked, because Al Qaeda as foreign terrorist group was something to be feared overseas, not a concern for those inside the US.
Consequently, the many Peoples of the world have a common interest in fighting terrorism and other forms of violence. In our globalizing, democratizing world that had been enjoying unprecedented peace and stability since the Cold War, violence is truly the greatest threat to society.
Terrorism is a particularly scary form of violent crime, because terrorists use violence and the indiscriminate murder of innocent civilians to force their will onto society as a whole. In the case of an established ruling body, they use fear violence generates to hold onto their illegitimate rule of a People.
Today, terrorism has grown increasingly scary, because the world has now been reawakened to the threat of “sleeper cells” and “lone wolves.” Meanwhile, terrorists have rejected the need to perpetrate attention getting, “shock and awe” style attacks, e.g. collapsing the Twin Towers, preferred by the highly political Al Qaeda.
Humans feel particularly vulnerable and grow increasingly desperate/irrational if they cannot retreat to a “safe haven” when threatened. Terrorists who can strike anywhere at anytime are, therefore, very effective at creating panic and provoking self-destructive reactions, i.e. bad policies, to their actions.
With that in mind, it is helpful to consider how Russia responded to the Paris terrorist attacks. Where condolences and outrage from Russian officials and the People of Russia are both universally welcomed and remind the world the Russian People are not the target of Western actions against Putin’s involvement in the Ukraine Crisis, Russians are correct when they look to the Paris terrorist attacks and conclude terrorism is the threat the world needs to focus on.
The West, of course, has understood this reality since September 11, 2001. It is the Putin government that decided to distract the world by resurrecting the traditional threat to other countries, i.e. other countries. It is also the Putin government that identifies NATO as its greatest threat.
Given Russia has had its own trouble with terrorism for decades, Russian officials should fully appreciate the need to focus on terrorism instead of conflicts between nations. It should also understand that terrorism, just like other forms of violent crime, can only be fully addressed when government is not preoccupied with other security concerns.
Moreover, events like the Paris terrorist attacks are designed to drive fear and chaos that terrorists can use to force their view onto others. Although division is the goal, the world can use these tragedies to unify. Instead of focusing on what divides the countries of the world, terrorism is a global threat that can unite the Peoples of the world. In order to do that, however, we must embrace solutions to ongoing issues that create friction and drive conflict between countries as well as the Peoples of the world.
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