Paul recently sent me this fascinating article by Douglas Burgess arguing that terrorism should be understood as akin to, if not a form of, piracy. The parallels between the two are surprisingly strong:
The corollaries between the pirates’ “war against the world” and modern terrorism are profound and disturbing. With their vengeful practices, pirates were the first and perhaps only historical precedent for the terrorist cell: a group of men who bound themselves in extraterritorial enclaves, removed themselves from the protection and jurisdiction of the nation-state, and declared war against civilization. Both pirates and terrorists deliberately employ this extranationality as a means of pursuing their activities. The pirates hid in the myriad shoals and islands of the Atlantic. The terrorists hide in cells throughout the world. Both seek through their acts to bring notice to themselves and their causes. They share means as well–destruction of property, frustration of commerce, and homicide. Most important, both are properly considered enemies of the rest of the human race.
The article offers lots of interesting details, so I very much recommend reading it in its entirety. I was particularly pleased with his comments toward the end about the steps required to eliminate terrorism based upon the historical precedent of piracy. The general plan isn’t new, but it’s good to have the inductive data of a clear historical precedent.