Has international law on state responsibility for acts of terrorism changed significantly since September 11th?

Has international law on state responsibility for acts of terrorism changed significantly since September 11th? What implications are there for the maintenance of international order?   The emerging global economy has stripped down previously enduring geographic and political boundaries, leading to deterritorialism or the blurring of lines that separate one country from another. As economies and businesses impose itself upon the sovereignty of one nation, it also brings with it threats such as terrorism and war. (Collins 2007, p. 54) Indeed, the evolving global order has created a community of countries whose fates are so intimately linked with one another.  The irony is that while international relations are more important than ever, it also heightens security risks, which in turn make such relations more important than ever. (Hough 2004, p. 4) The international system creates a cycle of benefits and risks that perpetuate itself and actions by one country can create a ripple effect that has profound consequences on a possibly global scale. (Evera 1998, p. 40) One example is the 2002 Bali terrorist attack in Indonesia. While the attack took place on Indonesian soil, it was taken as an attack against the United States and its allies, particularly Australia, whose citizens are known to frequent Bali. The attack on Bali killed two hundred Australian tourists. The deterritorialism can be seen by the fact that while Indonesia maintains sovereignty and rights over how to address the issues of terrorism within their country, the truth is that their actions are being closely monitored the global community, whether their actions are acceptable or not. (Pillar, 2003, p. 30) Five years after the Bali terrorist attack, the Australian government attack frowned upon Indonesia when Indonesia’s anti-terror chief, Brigadier General Surya Dharma, hosted a party for the convicted Islamic terrorists who have been found guilty of perpetrating the Bali attack. The party was held in honor of the end of the Ramadan fast and was held just a few days before the fifth year anniversary of the Bali bombing. John Howard, Australia’s Prime Minister condemned Dharma’s actions, and told the press that Dharma’s explanation that his actions were more along religious and not political lines did not hold water to some Australian politicians. Because the actions of Indonesia did not please Australia and its allies, the Indonesia faced the possibility of economic and trade sanctions from developed countries. The strong international opposition to Dharma’s actions took many Indonesians by surprise because while Indonesia has been known to take a soft hand when it comes to treating homegrown terrorists, their style has actually proven to be effective in weeding out extremists because it encourages terrorists to come clean. While Indonesia has been known to be the haven of insurgency in Southeast Asia, the Indonesian government has been effective in so far as extending a hand to local terrorists and inviting them to come back to the fold of the law. Australia failed to look at the bigger picture and took Dharma’a actions as a personal affront and a political faux pas. (Crenshaw, 1985, p. 93) In the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attacks on US soil as well as recent terrorist threats in the United Kingdom, security has been the foremost concern among air travelers. Since then, British Airports Authority (BAA) has introduced additional security measures such as passenger searches, which has added to the many inconveniences of air travel (Doganis 2002, p. 98). More than 65 million passengers pass through Heathrow airport alone every year (DFT 2007). The sheer number of passengers has made security measures difficult to enforce, even more so in light of increasing air passenger population. According to the UK Department of Transport (2007) projections, air passengers are expected to rise from 228 million passengers per annum (mppa) in 2005 to 495mppa in 2030.  However with the help of technology, the security and safety of passengers can be ensured without adding additional hassles to them.  Recently, the BAA has installed a number of technological devices which aims to provide better security without putting additional burden on the traveling public (DTF 2007). The success of some countries at preventing an extremist operation has brought to fore the importance of diligence. It has been said time and again that insurgents are always one step ahead, but they are only humans, and are prone to error as well. Europe as a target must come together in the effort to discourage would be attackers, and intelligence reports must always be given proper attention. The success of Germany against this recent terrorist threat is a testament to the things that could be achieved with an efficient and dedicated police force as well a vigilant and alert government, willing to be criticized in order to protect its people. On yet another front, most people are baffled that while Bush has been aggressive on Iraq and Afghanistan, he has been rather taking a consistently soft stance on other known havens for terrorism such as North Korea, Syria, and Iran. Hillary Clinton has been particularly vocal about classifying Iran’s Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group, and thus take appropriate, UN-approved sanctions against them. However, while the move is getting support in the United States, other countries have taken a more cautious stance, saying that to classify an Iranian group as a terrorist is to openly invite conflict against the country. (Smelser et al, 2002, p. 192) While most of Europe is agreeing that additional pressure must be exerted on the Iranian government, some, especially Russia, France, and Germany, has been particularly concerned about how this recent move will affect current negotiations with Iran. The disagreement over the imposition of sanctions against Iran may send out wrong signals, especially to terrorists who may see this as a weakening of the resolve to stop extremism. As such, the United Nations must always be clear in sending an image of unity because to do so will be to the advantage of the enemy. Whatever disagreements or misgivings that countries have over major issues should be discussed and resolved so that a united front can be projected at all times. In any war, the perception of weakness or lack of resolve spells the difference between victory and defeat, and if the world is to have a chance against terrorism, it can only do so with the cooperation and active involvement of everyone concerned. Our hopes of a better world can only be achieved when we set aside doubts and be resolved in our actions. These examples underscore the fact that the international system and the global order have influenced the way governments have ruled over their own countries. In as much as the threat of terrorism is the great equalizer and where no country is ever safe, so does the influence of richer countries break down barriers of territory and political sovereignty. If there is one particularly adverse effect of globalization, and one that heightens the risk of terrorism, is the homogenization of culture and the subservience of minority or ethnic cultures and languages under the dominant one. (Whittaker, 2006, p. 86) It is a phenomenon that if allowed to continue unabated can lead to the extinction of minority cultures, which in effect can lead to the loss of the identity that renders individuals with their own creative uniqueness. In a world that purports to celebrate diversity, it is ironic that the international system seems to be leaning towards homogenization or the standardization of forms. (Howard, 1992, p. 91) Globalization necessitates the need for the homogenization of communication and business culture because only in this kind of atmosphere can trade relations and transactions thrive. In the process of seeking homogeneity, the international system goes against the very nature of humanity. The rules of conformity suppress the need to be able to express one’s self in an individual manner, and thus find expression in other ways. That is why the international system, while seeking homogenization, is inherently anarchic because the very people that it seeks to homogenize are inherently different and free. This can be seen with the consistent fate of oppressive political leaders. Eventually, the people will rise up in arms to revolt against an overbearing government. An oppressive government will always succumb to the power of the people. (Waltz 1959, p 11) It is only a matter of time. And history has proven this time and again. The same goes true for an international system. Sooner or later the economies of scale would tip the balance and one party would suffer in the arrangement. International systems are fragile in the sense that it seeks to impose standardized ways of doing and thinking. Eventually citizens would feel the imposition and begin acting in defiance. When this rebellion reaches critical mass, the whole country may lash out at the imposing foreign country, resulting in what we now call as war and acts of terrorism. (Booth & Dunne 2002, p. 53) We should do well to remember that wars are acts of pain, acts of anger towards a perceived sense of violation. Wars and terrorists are products of their times and circumstances. They are the manifestation of a world gone mad. Indeed it may be said that terrorists are only instruments of those have vested interests in keeping insurgency alive. Ideologies are being used for commercial ends. In the final analysis, the war against terrorism is not about who is right or wrong, but is more about who stands to earn more from the death and suffering of so many innocent lives. If the global order is to have any chance for success, every country should seek to respect the culture and traditions of another. Rather than imposing conformity, the international system should hope to find common ground amid the diversity. (Baylis 2007, p. 18) Developed countries that encroach upon poor countries should keep in mind that the root of any insurgency is always a sense of violation, and it can only be healed with acceptance and respect. We all should very well heed the lessons of history and begin taking steps towards reconciliation and acceptance. Anarchy is inherent in any repressive system. Indeed the war against terrorism involves the very delicate and difficult task of recognizing insurgents even before they become they commit a terrorist act.  This is a very sensitive issue that is highly prone to misuse and abuse by the authorities. Patel’s case should serve as a model because it was done with careful investigation and discretion. As such, extreme caution must be taken in order to ensure that our need to weed out terrorists will never be used as an excuse to step on our rights and dignities as human beings. The cause of peace and stability should not be advanced at the expense of a world where our individual freedoms are respected an upheld. The public should be careful in making hasty conclusions. People have the right to express their opinions, no matter how contrary it may seem to the majority. In our efforts to curb terrorism, we should be wary of making hasty judgments, which can worsen an already dire situation. While laws should govern actions such as the ones exhibited by Siddique and should have its proper consequences, the fact still remains that a supporter of a belief does not necessarily make one a terrorist. For all intents and purposes, Mohammed Atif Siddique is guilty because he advocated the use of violence, and that is what separates the extremists from supporters, and the authorities and the public should always bear that in mind. We all have the right to support a cause, but never to support violence to advance an ideology. If the fight against terrorism amidst a global economy is to have any chance for success, every country should seek to respect the culture and traditions of another. (Lesser et al, 1999, p. 78) Rather than imposing conformity, the global community should find common ground amid the diversity. (Baylis 2007, p. 18) Developed countries that encroach upon poor countries and impose their products and services should keep in mind that the root of any insurgency is always a sense of violation, and it can only be healed with acceptance and respect. We all should very well heed the lessons of history and begin taking steps towards reconciliation and acceptance. Anarchy is inherent in any repressive system. The war against terror is actually being amplified by technology and media. (Corlett, 2003, p. 24) A trend is emerging in the presentation of ideals which Sony has described as ‘global localization’: the structuring of news and information designed for certain cultural consumption or presentation, which are assembled without particular concerns for national cultural heritage or tradition. A good case in point to prove the effects of globalization may be seen in the events that have been taking place in China. The internationalization of media has been more vigorous in the advent of the Internet. As such, they have been able to effect ideological changes even in most remote and isolated of countries. China, one of the world’s greatest and longest civilizations, has also fallen prey to the infinite reaches of foreign media. A society that has managed to hold on to their culture for thousands of years, successfully protecting itself from foreign intrusion has been indelibly stained by media, but not to the extent that the country has lost its sense of identity. (Juergensmeyer, 2003, p. 144) Hong recognizes the role of the foreign media culture in “accelerating the country’s openness.”, and credits China for being to set some limits as to how much this foreign culture can change the country. This goes to show that to some extent, as far as foreign media is concerned, governments are not totally defenseless. (Cragin & Chalk, 2003, p. 149) While a country can never be totally defenseless against the onslaught of terrorism and media globalization, governments can at least control the amount of manipulation taking place by countering it with a media spin of their own. And that is a good thing, lest we all live in an entirely homogenous world where one place is the exact replica of the next. After all, our world is far too beautiful to be cut in the same cookie cutter mold. A big part of the war against terrorism can be conducted without an actual war. It can be fought on so many fronts, like economic sanctions. (Ahmad & Barsamian, 2002, p. 65) Indeed the global community can have a far greater chance at success of fighting terrorism if it capitalizes on the unique heritage indigenous to a country rather than imposing uniform products without any room for variations. (Laqueur, 2004, p. 17) The war against terrorism in the face of globalization should be about celebrating diversity rather than homogeny. When each place has something unique to offer, we protect our heritage and we keep the world’s tenuous peace.                                 References Ahmad, E., & Barsamian, D. (2002). Terrorism: Theirs and Ours. Seven Stories Press. Baylis, J., Wirtz, J., Cohen, E., & Gray, E 2007, Strategy in the Contemporary World, Oxford University Press, Second Edition. 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