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How Do You Stop Terrorism?

December 10, 2015

After Paris and now San Bernardino, the world wants to know: how do you stop this cycle of violence?

It’s a legitimate question. But it’s like walking into a movie 45 minutes after it started and trying to figure out what’s going on without knowing how what’s going on got triggered in the first place.

World leaders want you to think that the only thing going on is these terrible acts of (anti-state) terrorism and they want the public to endorse their “war on terror” (state terror) which is like drinking more poison from the poison bottle that made you sick in the first place.

You stop drinking the poison, first of all.

Terror, for the record, is a tactic that is distinguishable by the fact that those who employ it are either deliberately targeting innocent bystanders or so indifferent about the casualties that their violent actions will cause, that they might as well be consciously targeting non-combatants.

Both anti-state and state terror share this distinguishing trait. It’s what makes an action terror and makes it different than other kinds of violence. Torture, drones that have killed thousands of innocents (including hundreds of children) and that include “double-tapping,” preventive and indefinite detention for crimes you might commit and in which due process has been suspended and replaced with the presumption of guilt, invading and occupying countries that were not threatening you and had nothing to do with 9/11 (the supreme international war crime per Nuremberg), dropping anti-personnel weapons on innocent gatherings like wedding parties and hospitals: these are all forms of state terror. I hardly need to elaborate on the atrocities committed by anti-state terrorists since you can read about that in the media everyday.

Here is an excerpt from a 2005 Foreign Affairs article. Foreign Affairs is published by the Council on Foreign Relations and it’s one of the places where the people who make public policy talk more openly and more frankly debate among themselves about what is going on and what they should do:

The current war in Iraq will generate a ferocious blowback of its own, which — as a recent classified CIA assessment predicts — could be longer and more powerful than that from Afghanistan. Foreign volunteers fighting U.S. troops in Iraq today will find new targets around the world after the war ends.

This was in 2005. This was after al-Qaeda had been created as the first bitter fruit of that “ferocious blowback,” producing 9/11 in 2001, but before the second bitter fruit of blowback, ISIS, came into being.

ISIS was formed by US policies, inadvertently.

Here is the most telling excerpt of an interview of NYTimes’ Iraq Bureau Chief Tim Arango in 2014 with NPR’s Terry Gross where he recounts how this occurred:

[T]here’s been a Sunni elite governing Iraq for, you know, centuries. And they [the US] come in. The Sunnis realize they’re going to be left out of this. They’re not going to be running the country anymore. And so resistance movements sprung up. And the other things the Americans did was disbanding the Iraqi army, which created a whole group of would-be potential insurgents. And so al-Qaida in Iraq is formed. And, you know, many of the things that the Maliki government has done to alienate Sunnis they learned from the Americans. The Americans taught them how to exclude Sunnis from political life with debathification and things like that. The other thing Maliki’s done is, you know, these mass arrests of Sunni men and of suspected terrorists. And that’s exactly what the Americans did. And so as the Americans tried to fight these guys, they would do these mass arrests. And they would put them in places like Camp Bucca. And most of the leaders of ISIS were in Camp Bucca. And, you know, they got to know each other. They got to plan. They got to hang out. And so, you know, on every turn in the Iraq story, now, is the American legacy and the epic American failure in Iraq. [Emphasis added].

I’m going to repeat that last line: “on every turn in the Iraq story, now, is the American legacy and the epic American failure in Iraq.”

Paris and San Bernardino are legacies of the US policies in the Middle East.

So the answer to that question is: US policies created ISIS. Not on purpose, contrary to some conspiracy nuts who think that ISIS is a pure creation of the CIA, but as an inadvertent result of US policies.

What can we expect will happen as the US, France and others escalate these exact same policies? More gasoline poured onto the fire supposedly to drown the fire.

In June 2014 Dennis Trainor, Jr. of Acroynm TV interviewed me about ISIS and US policy. It’s well worth watching and if you’ve seen it before, worth watching again.

For more on this see here and here.

How do you stop terrorism? You stop using terror. You stop using terror to supposedly put a stop to terror because all you are doing is creating more terror by doing so. Which, from authorities’ perspective, may very well be their objective because it justifies all of their emergency powers to “stop terror” and suspend civil liberties.


Dennis Loo is Professor of Sociology at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He is a Harvard honors graduate in Government and received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the author of “Globalization and the Demolition of Society” and Co-Editor/Author of “Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney”. Website: Dr. Dennis Loo


3 Responses to How Do You Stop Terrorism?

  1. liberalvoice on December 30, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    The Republican candidates, all but one or two, have decided a massive bombing campaign, “carpet bombing” is the solution. Yes of course, committing a war crime and killing tens of thousands of non-combatants is sure to diminish the ranks of ISIS. Great solutions from that party.

  2. markaj53 on December 18, 2015 at 9:38 am

    Professor Loo: I am enjoying your writing. Thank you for the work. I think your ideas about the carseral state, given the number of incarcerated citizens in the area where you work, are important and they are, from what I took from his instruction, shared by Professor Thom Gehring at C.S.U.S.B. I write this because of your article, “How Do You Stop Terrorism?”

    I think it is pretty clear that everyone who ever read a book about the Middle East cautioned against disrupting the tenuous balance of that region. It is almost impossible to believe someone in either Bush administrations did not hear that warning. It is much more likely that everyone knew to stay out of the Middle East, but capitalism’s game theory found implied odds that made dancing with disaster a good idea.

    Perhaps the need to hunt for profit is controlled by the same primitive part of the brain that controls sexual desire. What else, but profit, can explain our running willy-nilly into the Middle East?

    As an aside, you must enjoy seeing your interview from June 28, 2014 on Acronym TV. That would be known as, “calling it”. You don’t really need that as a validation, but it will always help in a pinch.

    I have a question: You say American policies created ISIS, “inadvertently”. You say so several times. Doesn’t history here show the gap between inadvertent and predictable is filled with ignorance, arrogance, and greed?
    With respect for your work,
    Mark Johnson

  3. Joseph Saks on December 12, 2015 at 2:37 am

    It’s OK for the US to be in their countries killing them by the thousands, but if they try to do that to the US… What is wrong with the people of the US? They dish it out for years and expect there to be no blowback. You could have predicted all of this at the moment America used its reckless “shock and awe” (Rumsfeld) tactic to invade Iraq. Did the US really care how many innocent people (who *were* Muslims) they killed? Rumsfeld expressed his deepest sympathy by saying something like you can’t make an omelet without breaking few eggs. Is that sentiment any different than the jihadis’ lack of compassion? A pox on both your houses.

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