Scott Stewart concludes his series on terrorism by reminding people that terrorism needs to be kept in perspective. While terrorism is an unquestionably violent act, at its heart -- for at least the type of terroism conducted against non-moslem targets -- it is more properly considered an act of propaganda.
The intent of terrorists is to leverage news coverage of their attacks ot spread fear far beyond reasonable bounds. All though difficult to do in this day of the 24 hour news cycle, it is imperative to judge the true scale of terrorism and not create exaggerated fears over its reach.
The beginning of the article is excerpted below, with a link to the full article at the end of the excerpt.
Because of the talk about propaganda in the article, for the Hot Stratfor Babe, Tokyo Rose immediately sprang to mind. So, I turned to the 1946 film Tokyo Rose and selected Lotus Long who played the title character for the honor.
Ms Long was an American of Japanese and Hawaiian ancestry and she made a career of playing exotic Asian women in movies. In the movie Tokyo Rose she was kidnapped by an escaped American POW who plans on killing her because her treachery led to the death of his buddy. I don't know much else about the film. I'm guessing it would probably be entertaining like films of that era tend to be, but I suspect there is enough racial stereotyping and what-not to ensure it will never again appear on TV.
Interestingly, there never was an actual Tokyo Rose. That was a generic name given to any of the number of English speaking woman who broadcast for the Japanese during the war.
None the less, because she identified herself as Tokyo Rose to get paid for a post-war interview, one of the women -- Iva Toguri D'Aquino, who actually broadcasted under the name Orphan Ann -- became the one who was most associated with the Tokyo Rose monicker. That's her behind bars to the left.
Ms D'Aquino was an American citizen in Japan when the war started. She was pressured, but refused to renounce her citizenship and also smuggled food to allied prisoners in POW camps. When approached to do broadcasts by the POWs who ran the stations, she agreed to only after being given assurances that she would not have to broadcast anti-American propaganda.
After the war she was detained and investigated, and eventually released when no evidence of treasonous behavior on her part was found. However, when she returned to the States there was a public uproar and she was rearrested and tried for treason.
Her trial was a sham, with witnesses coerced into testifying against her. She was convicted of treason and sentenced to a 10 year prison sentence. She served a little over 6 years of the sentence before being paroled. In 1977, after an investigation into the irregularities of her trial, Jerry Ford issued her a full and unconditional pardon.
Keeping Terrorism in Perspective
By Scott Stewart, March 22, 2012
As we conclude our series on the fundamentals of terrorism, it is only fitting that we do so with a discussion of the importance of keeping terrorism in perspective.
By design, terrorist attacks are intended to have a psychological impact far outweighing the physical damage the attack causes. As their name suggests, they are meant to cause terror that amplifies the actual attack. A target population responding to a terrorist attack with panic and hysteria allows the perpetrators to obtain a maximum return on their physical effort. Certainly, al Qaeda reaped such a maximum return from the Sept. 11 attacks, which totally altered the foreign policy and domestic security policies of the world's only superpower and resulted in the invasion of Afghanistan and military operations across the globe. Al Qaeda also maximized its return from the March 11, 2004, Madrid train bombings, which occurred three days before the 2004 Spanish general elections that ousted the ruling party from power.
One way to mitigate the psychological impact of terrorism is to remove the mystique and hype associated with it. The first step in this demystification is recognizing that terrorism is a tactic used by a variety of actors and that it will not go away, something we discussed at length in our first analysis in this series. Terrorism and, more broadly, violence are and will remain part of the human condition. The Chinese, for example, did not build the Great Wall to attract tourists, but to keep out marauding hordes. Fortunately, today's terrorists are far less dangerous to society than the Mongols were to Ming China.
Another way to mitigate the impact of terrorism is recognizing that those who conduct terrorist attacks are not some kind of Hollywood superninja commandos who can conjure attacks out of thin air. Terrorist attacks follow a discernable, predictable planning process that can be detected if it is looked for. Indeed, by practicing relaxed, sustainable situational awareness, people can help protect themselves from terrorist attacks. When people practice situational awareness collectively, they also can help protect their communities from such attacks.
A third important component in the demystification process is recognizing and resisting the terror magnifiers terrorist planners use in their efforts to maximize the impact of their attacks. Terrorist attacks will cause tragedy and suffering, but the targeted population can separate terror from terrorism, and minimize the impact of such attacks if they maintain the proper perspective.
Propaganda of the Deed
As we begin our examination of perspective and terror magnifiers, let's first examine the objective of terrorist planners.
Nineteenth-century anarchists promoted what they called the "propaganda of the deed," or using violence as a symbolic action to make a larger point, such as inspiring the masses to undertake revolutionary action. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, modern terrorist organizations began to conduct operations designed to serve as terrorist theater, an undertaking greatly aided by the advent and spread of broadcast media. Some examples of early attacks specifically intended as made-for-television events include the September 1972 kidnapping and murder of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics and the December 1975 raid on OPEC headquarters in Vienna. Aircraft hijackings quickly followed suit, and were transformed from relatively brief endeavors to long, drawn-out and dramatic media events often spanning multiple continents. The image of TWA Flight 847 captain John Testrake in the window of his cockpit with a Hezbollah gunman behind him became an iconic image of the 1980s, embodying this trend.
Today, the proliferation of 24-hour television news networks and Internet news sites magnifies such media exposure. This increased exposure not only allows people to be informed minute-by-minute about unfolding events, it also permits them to become secondary, vicarious victims of the unfolding violence. The increased exposure ensures that the audience impacted by the propaganda of the deed becomes far larger than just those in the immediate vicinity of a terrorist attack. On Sept. 11, 2001, millions of people in the United States and around the world watched live as the second aircraft struck the south tower of the World Trade Center, people leapt to their deaths to escape the raging fires and the towers collapsed. Watching this sequence of events in real time profoundly impacted many people. Its effect was far greater than if people have merely read about the attacks in newspapers.
In the wake of 9/11, a wave of terror swept the globe as people worldwide became certain that more such spectacular attacks were inevitable. The November 2008 Mumbai attacks had a similar, albeit smaller, impact. People across India were fearful of being attacked by teams of Lashkar-e-Taiba gunmen, and concern spread around the world about Mumbai-style terrorism.
Such theatrical attacks exert a strange hold over the human imagination. The sense of terror they create can dwarf the reaction to natural disasters many times greater in magnitude. For example, more than 227,000 people died in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami compared to fewer than 3,000 people on 9/11. Yet the 9/11 attacks spawned a global sense of terror and a geopolitical reaction that had a profound and unparalleled impact upon world events over the past decade.
As noted, the media magnifies this anxiety and terror. Television news, whether broadcast on the airwaves or over the Internet, allows people to experience a terrorist event remotely and vicariously, and the print media reinforces this. While part of this magnification results merely from the nature of television as a medium and the 24-hour news cycle, bad reporting and misunderstanding can build hype and terror.
Read more: Keeping Terrorism in Perspective | Stratfor