Title: The war on terror: in search of a definition

Authors: Charles Hampden-Turner

Addresses: Judge Business School, 24 Trumpington St. Cambridge, B2 1AG, UK

Abstract: |Terror| is the name we give to vague and pervasive anxieties within us Unlike |fear| it has no specific location but is all around us. Yet you cannot pursue a |war on terror| without targeting specific persons. The very vagueness of terror prevents us thinking clearly about it. You cannot fight an abstraction. When we locate particular instances of terror we are often wrong, e.g., The Gulf of Tonkin off Vietnam and weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We claim to discriminate better than do terrorists, who often target civilians but do we? Is it possible to win even a conventional war without |breaking| the enemy so he flees in terror? Does not |killing at a distance| consitute terror? Have we not killed more civilians or their side than losses of soldiers on our side? Does |shock and awe| differ from terror? The local population will unltimately rally to the forces who know who they are. Hence it is possible to lose politically even as you win militarily. But are not many Islamic websites rabidly antisemitic and intolerant of the smallest dissent? Yes, indeed. But this should make us cautious about inflicting agonies so severe that only totalitarian systems can survive them, as the Soviets withstood Germany, as North Korea and North Vietnam withstood the USA. Terror is similar to the Devil. He cannot be defeated. He is with us always, because as the character Simon says in The Lord of the Flies, |he is us|.

Keywords: terror; fear; war on terror; false concreteness; Iraq; friend-foe discrimination; killing from a distance; shock and awe; local populations; militarily victory; political defeat; Islamic antisemitism; totalitarian beliefs; withstanding agonies; fundamentalism; Devil symbolises terror; Lord of the Flies.

DOI: 10.1504/GBER.2008.019019

Global Business and Economics Review, 2008 Vol.10 No.2, pp.207 - 210

Published online: 27 Jun 2008 *

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