Abstract: Since Sept. 11, 2001, the world in general and the American and British publics in particular have become acutely aware of international terrorism and its devastating effects on the bodies, minds, and hearts of its victims. But while great attention has been paid to the military and geopolitical dimensions of terrorism and counterterrorism, relatively little effort has been made to understand the historical, cultural, and ideological roots of terrorism. And almost no one appearing in mainstream Western mass media has proposed a nonviolent, or less violent—a sustainable and effective--alternative to the current "global war on terror(ism)," and to the "resource wars" that are becoming an increasing threat to global and regional peace and security.
In this presentation, I will sketch some historical antecedents of contemporary terrorism and global conflict, focusing on the millennial struggles in the Middle East between "terrorists from above" (state despots) and "terrorists from below" (non-state actors). I will also analyze the current "War on Terror" and "Clash of Civilizations."
The current “War on Terror” threatens to spiral out of control, possibly escalating to a “War of the World.” Is this to be the future of humanity? Of is the “End of War,” at least the end of the “War on Terror,” a feasible alternative?
A primary focus of my presentation will be an analysis of recent empirical work by the Rand Corporation regarding concrete, effective measures to counter terrorist violence with negotiations, diplomacy, and police work. I will assess the Rand report’s conclusions, and I will propose an alternative.
Sustainable peace and conflict resolution involves the development and implementation of effective strategies and policies that de-escalate the cycles of violence and institutionalize effective peace-building. I will conclude with an assessment of the viability of this important project.
Dr Charles Webel is currently a Professor of International Economic Relations and Psychology at the University of New York in Prague. He is also a Fulbright Senior Specialist in Peace and Conflict Resolution. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in Philosophy, Political and Social Thought, and he did postdoctoral work in Public Health and Social Medicine at Harvard University, where he also taught. He is a research graduate of the Psychoanalytic Institute of San Francisco. Dr. Webel has published four books, including Terror, Terrorism, and the Human Condition, and, with David Barash, Peace and Conflict Studies, widely considered the standard text in the field. He is also Director of the Program in Peace, Conflict, and Environmental Studies at the University of New York in Prague.