High Technology Terrorism and Surrogate War

The Impact of New Technology on Low-Level Violence

by Brian Michael Jenkins

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Abstract

While official war between nations seems increasingly impractical and unpopular, terrorism — violence for dramatic effect — is flourishing. New small, cheap, accurate, highly destructive infantry weapons are ideal for terrorists and urban guerrillas. Some governments already support, train, and equip groups waging war against other governments; such surrogate warfare is likely to increase. Smaller and smaller groups of extremists and irreconcilables, without governments or the necessity of maintaining large, sympathetic constituencies, are acquiring more and more power to disrupt and destroy. Governments are hard pressed to counter them without oppressive restrictions on the citizenry in general. The world that emerges is an unstable collection of nations, ministates, autonomous ethnic substates, governments in exile, national liberation fronts, guerrillas, and ephemeral but destructive terrorist organizations, some linked in vague alliances, some proteges of foreign states. But even continuous terrorism has caused less destruction than real wars. Civilized nations can slaughter on a far grander scale than those we call terrorists.

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