Mark Collins – Maybe Some Terrorists Just Like Killing for Its Own Sake

Let us not forget fundamentals of right and wrong–the conclusion of an article at the London Review of Books:

By Any Means or None
Thomas Nagel

Does Terrorism Work? A History by Richard English [more here]

…the main thing missing from English’s response is any sense that there might be something intrinsically wrong in deliberately killing and maiming innocent civilians as a means to bring about even a desirable outcome. That is what people find morally revolting about terrorism, not just the death and suffering it causes. The sense that there are limits on what may be done to people is a crucial part of the morality most of us share. Contempt for such moral boundaries is the defining mark of both state and non-state campaigns of terror. In spite of his acknowledgment of what he calls the ‘terrible human costs’ of terrorism, English seems clueless about this essential aspect of the phenomenon, and of the normal reaction to it. ‘The casualness with which we all tend to be comfortable with other people’s suffering lies at the heart of the problem of terrorism,’ he says. Note that ‘all’. To assimilate terrorism to a universal human failing is morally obtuse. It is something much more radical than that.

The persistence of terrorism appears to be impervious to its overwhelming record of failure to ‘work’, in the normal sense. Terrorists, it seems, are at least as attached to their means as to their professed ends, and to those for whom killing is an end in itself, there is not much to say by way of rational counterargument.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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2 thoughts on “Mark Collins – Maybe Some Terrorists Just Like Killing for Its Own Sake”

  1. This post ought to be read alongside Jenan Moussa’s and Harald Doornbos’s stellar three-parter ‘Present at the Creation’ http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/08/16/present-at-the-creation/. Specifically, their sources’ own apostasy from the ideology of terror for its own sake, the objections of some of the other radicals, and the source’s comments on the attitudes of the foreign fighters in ISIS.

    Tangentially, with al-Adnani.with dead and Daesh going down militarily, one wonders how ‘inspirational’ it will continue to be abroad beyond some inertia and whatever rounds are still in the chamber.

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