The Real Way to Stop Terrorism

All You Need is Love” by Bruce Hoffman in The Atlantic Monthly, December 2001

In all of the global discussion among defense specialists about how to stop terrorism, digging deep into the history of counterinsurgency, a clue on one highly effective tactic comes from a highly unexpected source.

At one point, the PLO apparently needed to shut down their own fanatical terrorist unit, Black September.

How did they do it?

They set it up so each of the bloodthirsty, testosterone-fuelled and demagogue-gueded young men got married, help starting a new life, kids, and steady, rewarding jobs.

In other words, Tom Barnett is right. You give the terrorists something to live for through connectivity and hope for a better future, and you will eliminate the problem far more quickly and effectively than you will with brute force alone.

All of which brings up another point: Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have at their disposal the means to end terrorism now. After all, the Palestinians wrote the book on domesticating wild dogs. The fact that there are still people running around the region with outerwear made from plastic explosives means that they still find these tactics useful.

For more, read Hoffman’s book Inside Terrorism, and Barnett’s books The Pentagon’s New Map and A Blueprint for Action.