Can something have multiple Achilles heels? We only have two feet, but it seems like terrorism is a multi-legged animal tripping up everywhere. Here are a list of some of the fundamental weaknesses terrorism has:
- It is often not supported by a majority. This leaves terrorist groups in an auspicious state of both trying to commit brutal acts of violence and gain public support for their cause at the same time. A balancing act that is difficult to do–juggling your own political agenda and the will of the people simultaneously.
- It often does not succeed against a stable and militarily-capable nation state. Terrorists fight using terrorism – a tactic. This tactic is usually adopted in a guerilla-like fashion, from a position of military and economic weakness; it usually targets civilians in order to send a message. The combat effectiveness of terrorist groups tends to be weak.
- It is hardly successful. Terrorists tend to state and advocate goals way beyond their capacity. These goals are ultimately fruitless in the face of reality. When – rarely but sometimes – successful, holding onto that success becomes another uphill challenge that is often not maintained and is doomed to fail. Terrorists rely on long-term strategy rather than tactics.
Consider a few groups as prime examples:
- The ETA (Basque separatists).
- The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (as of 2017).
- The Shining Path (especially its downfall).
Note: As always with observation studies – there is contradictory information out there. Sometimes terrorist groups do achieve the popularity – enough to sway a majority. Sometimes they do succeed against greater threats and sometimes it is successful. But the trend tends to show that terrorism is a flop.
See below for videos on both sides of the story.