President Clinton’s remarks from a few weeks ago are receiving varied treatment in the news. He spoke on the disorientation of America, the current pique of rhetoric, the vast echo chamber of our national media (and I would argue our new media), and the crackpots shouting in it. He compared the nation’s current position to the climate before the OKC bombing, to mixed reaction.
I remember the ‘95 bombing. I was 11, and Oklahoma City was awfully nearby. I don’t remember the political climate in the lead up, but today’s real threat of domestic violence against the government saddens and worries me. My parents’ generation grew up seeing the murders of JFK, MLK, and RFK – so far my generation has been luckier. But I have been struck by the threats against speaker Pelosi motivated by the healthcare bill, the murder of the democratic party chairman in Arkansas, a man I knew and liked killed in an office where I’d spent time, and the shootings at a Tennessee UU church “motivated by hatred of democrats, liberals, African Americans and homosexuals” have me listening closely to the things president Clinton has to say, and thinking hard about the future of security and domestic terrorism.
President Clinton has also said that the most traumatic thing about the 7/7 attack in Britain is that it was perpetrated by Britons – the terrorism was home grown, and the perpetrators felt the differences from their very neighbors – persons with whom they had lived for decades, worked with, gone to school with, and shared a community with – were greater than their common community. Conceptually, this kind of terrorism is much, much harder to grapple to the floor than an overseas attack, and its implications reach further.
The lesson is critical for what Columbia Law Professor Philip Bobbitt terms “market states” in his book Terror and Consent. I find myself approaching the problem using theories from Professor Bobbitt’s course on Terrorism, International Law, and Constitutional Theory. As a country we enjoy the advantages of the 21st century – we outsource, employ complicated leadership structures, and we network globally. The initial lesson is to understand that globalized terrorism will emerge, and it will reflect the global, networked, market-based structure and activities of Visa or Coca-Cola, rather than the 20th century nation state structure of national liberation terrorists, e.g. PLO, ETA, IRA, etc. Al Qaeda is one example of a market state era threat.
Read on, after the jump!
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