Giddens on the New Terrorism

The sociologist Anthony Giddens has a provocative piece on Al Qaeda and the new terrorism in The New Statesman.  The upshot:

“The left has to adjust its attitudes towards terrorism, just as it had to adjust them towards crime. It won’t do to say that there are no serious threats. It won’t do to blame the troubles of the world on George W Bush or the Iraq war. It is no good pretending that there aren’t problems in reconciling civil liberties with adequate protection and security. It is not wrong to say that we have to deal with the social conditions that have helped to produce new-style terrorism – poverty and unemployment, schisms between the Islamic world and the west, the situation in Israel/Palestine. And it is certainly right to say that we need urgent measures to halt further nuclear proliferation.

But as with crime, we cannot think only of the underlying conditions. New-style terrorists are by no means always drawn from the ranks of the dispossessed; and their aims, as in the case of al-Qaeda, may be primarily religious and strategic. We have to respond to the dangers they pose in the here and now.”