The Right Coast

November 23, 2004
The True of Cycle of Violence
By Mike Rappaport

The killing of two Sunni clerics has raised the possibility of terrorism against the terrorists. One of clerics had called for a boycotting of the January elections in Iraq, and the other was a member of a group associated with that position.

One of the reasons why terrorism is a bad thing is that creates the possibility of a degeneration of civilized behavior. The laws of war, etc, which terrorists violate are designed in part to preserve innocent lives and avoid the worst horrors of war. Terrorists, of course, impose some of those horrors. But they also give the other side the incentive to ignore the laws of war and to engage in similar action. A cycle of terrorism may result.

Nations like the US are unlikely to engage in this behavior, since it would not really be in their interest. (That is true at present. Of course, if terrorists use WMDs in the US, then a response that is "terrorist-like" might be a distinct possibility.) But groups within Iraq have different incentives and it should not be surprising if some of them decide to fight fire with fire.