THE FUTURE OF TERRORISM by Walter Laqueur

THE FUTURE OF TERRORISM

ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and the Alt-Right
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KIRKUS REVIEW

The dean of terrorism studies (Putinism: Russia and Its Future with the West, 2015, etc.) examines trends in Islamist and alt-right acts of political violence.

There is good news in Laqueur’s prognosis, including the absence of another tsunami event like 9/11. For one thing, he notes, most acts of political terrorism occur in just five countries, and the number of victims is some 40 times less than that of heart attack victims. Still, he writes, that’s 18,000 people per year—“17,958, to be precise,” in 2013. Laqueur looks at his subject through the lens of the overall decline in violence that has so cheered Steven Pinker of late before getting into the meat of the matter: Terrorism is successful where government is faltering. “Terrorism,” he writes, “is not an exogenous feature of the modern nation-state but rather a symptom of bad governance.” In that light, the growth of alt-right violence has not yet blossomed into full-fledged terrorism in the United States, but the ingredients are there, including dog whistles from the sitting president. As the author notes, the alt-right shares with Islamism the call for “a homogenous society that absolutely rejects outsiders,” a view that is wider spread in a time of rampant nationalism; it wouldn’t take much to tip a certain element of followers from race-hate rhetoric to armed action. As for Islamism, Laqueur argues that the Trump administration is feeding right into the narrative of the U.S. as a “crusader” power through such blunders as pushing to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel, maligning and discriminating against Muslims with a broad brush, and otherwise subscribing to the discredited “clash of civilizations” thesis. The bad news, then, is that while political violence may be lessening, it won’t disappear anytime soon.

Of considerable interest to the geopolitically inclined, as are all of Laqueur’s many books.

Pub Date: July 3rd, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-250-14251-1
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2018




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