Terrorism: Impediments to International Cooperation
International cooperation in regard to thwarting terrorism leaves much to be desired. This relates to a number of problems. First, there is no internationally accepted definition of terrorism. Without such a definition it is difficult or even impossible to put in place policies and laws that will affect international cooperation and the ultimate reduction or elimination of terrorism. Second, too much perverse incentive exists for those that turn a blind eye to terrorism. Numerous countries have in fact profited as a result of selling goods or services to what the world in general considers terrorist entities’. Finally, much of the lack of cooperation that exists on an international scale in regard to stamping out terrorism results from reluctance of countries to be domineered by another. Unfortunately, the United States is often perceived as the bully in this issue and until we change that perception we are unlikely to achieve full world cooperation in regard to abating terrorism.
Terrorism is an affront to the world yet a consistent way of dealing with those that engage in terrorism has not been developed on the international level. Acts of terrorism can be loosely defined as acts perpetrated against citizens to instill terror, as acts that are committed by non-governmental bodies or representatives. This definition, of course, varies significantly according to the entity providing that definition. Furthermore, as our understanding and perception of terrorism evolves so do our definitions and the way that we attempt to legally deal with the phenomena. The fluid nature of the international response to terrorism can be attributed to this fact as can our failure to come up with precise international law that governs how the world treats terrorist.
In many ways in our contemporary world we are creating what author Stanley Cohen (2002) would call a “folk devil”. We are creating stereotypical images of Arabs and other ethnic groups that have emerged in the post-9-11 world after the September 11, 2001 terrorist destruction of the New York World Trade Center and the subsequent attack on the U.S. Pentagon itself. Critcher (2004) identifies six critical steps in the process of what Cohen refers to as "folk devils". In the first step a distinctive episode, condition, individual, group emerges that will ultimately be perceived as the threat (Cohen, 2002, 9). In step two the nature of that episode, condition, individual or group is stylized and stereotyped by the media (Cohen, 2002, 9). In what constitutes step three in Critcher's (2004) enumeration, Cohen writes that: "the moral barricades are manned by editors, bishops, politicians, and other right-thinking people" (Cohen, 2002, 9). Next, in step four, experts emerge to analyze the developments and to formulate the most appropriate solution (Cohen, 2002, 9). Step five encompasses the types of coping that evolve or are resorted to...