The Coming Urban Terror: How do we fight?

The following is an article that delineates my fears. It also illustrates the incredible danger of justifying resentments expressed as terror — i.e., you end up being the target, as Muslims the world over, but especially in Iraq, are beginning to realize.

Unlike the writer, who emphasizes military forms of security, I prefer cultural ones – like making it clear that engaging in this stuff is not okay – (i.e., the opposite of what the world told the Palestinians from 2001 to present).

The likelihood of people “going” for terrorist “activism” is MUCH higher when we turn a blind eye to it and say, “hey, it’s a free country… they can say what they want.” So far so good, they can say what they want. But then we have to say something back, not walk away and let them recruit people who have a weak grip on what right and wrong, legitimate (to use the demopaths favorite term) and illegitimate. tolerance takes energy… what the Dutch and other Europeans have really failed to appreciate. It takes engagement.

The Coming Urban Terror
John Robb

For the first time in history, announced researchers this May, a majority of the world’s population is living in urban environments. Cities—efficient hubs connecting international flows of people, energy, communications, and capital—are thriving in our global economy as never before. However, the same factors that make cities hubs of globalization also make them vulnerable to small-group terror and violence.

Over the last few years, small groups’ ability to conduct terrorism has shown radical improvements in productivity—their capacity to inflict economic, physical, and moral damage. These groups, motivated by everything from gang membership to religious extremism, have taken advantage of easy access to our global superinfrastructure, revenues from growing illicit commercial flows, and ubiquitously available new technologies to cross the threshold necessary to become terrible threats. September 11, 2001, marked their arrival at that threshold.

Unfortunately, the improvements in lethality that we have already seen are just the beginning. The arc of productivity growth that lets small groups terrorize at ever-higher levels of death and disruption stretches as far as the eye can see. Eventually, one man may even be able to wield the destructive power that only nation-states possess today. It is a perverse twist of history that this new threat arrives at the same moment that wars between states are receding into the past. Thanks to global interdependence, state-against-state warfare is far less likely than it used to be, and viable only against disconnected or powerless states. But the underlying processes of globalization have made us exceedingly vulnerable to nonstate enemies. The mechanisms of power and control that states once exerted will continue to weaken as global interconnectivity increases. Small groups of terrorists can already attack deep within any state, riding on the highways of interconnectivity, unconcerned about our porous borders and our nation-state militaries. These terrorists’ likeliest point of origin, and their likeliest destination, is the city.

read the rest…

Civil societies are, by their very nature, vulnerable. One of the key insights of civil society is that all the good experiential things — intimacy, learning, joy — come from vulnerability.

By not vigorously opposing terrorism, but rather “understanding” it, “sympathizing” with its “desperation,” excusing its excesses, the Left has created a monster that comes to plague us all. And when we say, “hey, not here you idiots, they can just respond, “one person’s civil society is another’s oppression.”

18 Responses to The Coming Urban Terror: How do we fight?

  1. David M says:

    Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 08/16/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often.

  2. fp says:

    RL>I prefer cultural ones – like making it clear that engaging in this stuff is not okay – (i.e., the opposite of what the world told the Palestinians from 2001 to present).

    And despite the overwhelming facts on the ground you believe that telling them “it is not OK” without backing it up with ruthless overwhelming force will stop the trend?

    You can’t be serious.

  3. fp says:

    the problem, as dalrymple states here:

    is not just the left. It is the entire west, including your foundation of morality, faith, which now operates out of sheer fear, not any principle (which is the cause for some of the left too).

    it’s even worse than just showing islamists fear, which in itself it’s like a red flag before a bull. ***threatening first and then folding*** like olmert and bush do guarantees attacks won’t relent, but intensify and so will fear.

    dalrymple seems to dismiss islamist success based on inherent superiority of modernity over primitivism. I do not share his confidence.

  4. fp says:

    State Dept. invites radical imams into United States

    Hundreds of Islamic fundamentalist clerics have been allowed to enter the United States to take over mosques in major cities. The clerics come from countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan and have been influenced by al Qaeda. Many are fresh graduates from Saudi-financed Wahhabi seminaries

    –Insight Magazine

  5. Michael B says:

    The article is soundly reasoned. Paul Ricoeur, in the preface to Jan Patočka’s “Heretical Essays in the Phil. of History,” notes that:

    “… the end of politics is nothing other than life for the sake of freedom … that political humans are as such historical beings in that, in the final analysis, history is the realization of freedom in a public space opened by freedom for freedom; … philosophy is free thought applied to the conditions of the possibility of politics and history, as we have known it since Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Ethics and Politics.”

    Regardless as to how definitively one might assess such a set of statements, they serve sufficiently well to reflect what politics, history and philosophy is, at the fundaments, about, vis-a-vis civilization, which is to say history. If and when the west better comes to terms with the full import of those basics, those fundaments, it will therein become conscious of what it will require to recover and sustain itself; but it remains in a deep and profoundly forgetful sleep. Still, if self-discipline follows that self-consciousness, rightly understood, then recovery will be certain, if costly in some respects as well. If not, then different costs still will be paid and the article is suggestive of those other costs. Choices will be made, are being made, have been made, and we are living with the ones that have been made.

  6. fp says:

    >If and when the west better comes to terms with the full import of those basics … but it remains in a deep and profoundly forgetful sleep

    It is not asleep, it is actively surrendering out of fear or utter ignorance.

    >Choices will be made, are being made, have been made, and we are living with the ones that have been made.

    If you can call that living.

  7. fp says:

    More from Dalrymple:

    How societies commit suicide

  8. Michael B says:

    Smell some roses on occasion, fp. Jan Patocka, Vaclav Havel (whom Patocka mentored) and others, in the very midst of extreme Soviet era oppressions were living in liberty, in freedom. For example they, Patocka expressly, were the authors of Charta 77. It’s an expression that can be too readily misconceived and misapplied but ultimately freedom/liberty, rightly conceived, is an individual choice, one that is made daily.

    (Hollywood, if it was more genuinely and interestingly creative and inspired, would make a film or two of such episodes, reflecting upon Soviet mendacities and malevolence. But they are not; instead they are more typically enamored of themselves and of their status, power and, most certainly, their wealth, wealth and then again their wealth.)

    Likewise, there are ample reasons to be pessimistic, but they are specific reasons needing specific, needing individually tailored critiques and assessments. The sky is not falling.

  9. fp says:


    I was referring to life after islamization — the consequence of decisions made now, as per your comment.

    You are not gonna teach me about living under communism, are you? I was born in Romania, a member of the soviet block that was much worse than the USSR and lived there until 13. There were no roses to smell for the vast majority of romanians, who don’t smell them even today in so-called democracy. And for us, like for all jews, the smelling potential was negative.

    And let me tell you a secret: communism was nothing relative to dhimmitude under sharia. I just hope the process will be long enough for me not to be around when it happens.

  10. fp says:

    Here’s how the world will look under sharia: 70 rules how to urinate and defecate.

    Must see video

  11. Michael B says:

    Good grief, I wasn’t presuming to teach; rather, in Patocka, I pointed to a teacher, a capable and eminent teacher at that. Then again, you know what they say about “old dogs” …

  12. fp says:

    But have you LIVED under a communist system? Or are you just going by books about it?

  13. Michael B says:

    I hesitate to be so complimentary, but you are incorrigible, implacable and just plain difficult. No, I have not lived under a communist regime, nor have I been subjected to a Soviet styled gulag or a Maoist styled “reeducation” camp.

  14. fp says:

    >incorrigible, implacable and just plain difficult.

    You’re too kind.

    That’s what’s required to deal with reality, not abstractions.

  15. 100.000 people

    [This is a translation of the post I wrote for the Spanish blog. I consider this summit as very important for Spain, not only for the secretive activity and recruitement of HuT but also because of its increasing presence in Spain, specially in Cataloni…

  16. […] for? Are they preparing themselves to what is worrying excellent blogger Richard Landes in this post? Over the last few years, small groups’ ability to conduct terrorism has shown radic […]

  17. Michael B says:

    Yes, and I have enormous respect for your own, and others’, experience. Otoh if this had started off with an emphasis upon your reason and my empirical evidence, I suspect you’d be emphasizing the importance of “sweet reason” and rationalism (with no mention of mere “abstractions”) and marginalizing my empirical evidence as merely being anecdotal.

  18. fp says:

    Sorry, but in this particular case my empirical evidence beat yours and abstraction.

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