The process of contemporary globalization has widened the circle of common interests among states, communities, and individuals. At the same time, it has contributed to expanding the scope of risk and fear of the unknown, especially by global terrorism, which is –as Benjamin Barber describes- the rotten fruit of globalization.
The act of terror creates a panic that, if transformed into a permanent state of fear, becomes a confirmed/actual risk.
A world which is transforming into a “multi-order system” at the state, above-the-state and sub-state levels, we expect that all involved Actors – individuals, institutions, and governments will increasingly need to be insured against this threat.
Globalization is a highly ambiguous process that bears various dimensions, mechanisms, and indexes. It has even further interpretations and definitions, which makes it a fertile ground for conflicting and different approaches. However, its dimensions and (technological) mechanisms are the most influential and common factors and the driving force beyond the limits of national borders.
There is no specific definition of globalization even within the same or similar theories and approaches. Moreover, and to the best of my knowledge, there is no single agreed upon definition of globalization whether from analysts, experts, journalists or academics.
My definition of globalization, however, is as follows:
“The accelerated process of effective and decisive influence of the technological development through which political, social, economic, cultural and technological relations acquire features which are disentangled from natural and artificial distances and boundaries.
Human beings have become more aware, than ever before in human history, that they live in this world the direct impact of events and phenomena, regardless of their kinds and forms. Moreover, they have realised that our world remains one vast and profound place including in the scope of extremism and terrorism, infectious diseases or global warming, the drug, arms and White slavery and sport (particularly football, where how many countries participated in the World Cup in Brazil (2014), the number of spectators and their relationships, reaching to the financial crises or environmental pollution.
What is terrorism?
The procedural definition I have adopted for terrorism in all the studies I have conducted on the concept is:
An intentional political violence, or threat thereof, with the aim of creating a state of continuous transcending international borders fear, spreading terror, and targeting civilian targets, planned and implemented by non -state actors.
Terrorism, like other concepts such as civilization, globalization, culture, racism, nationalism, sex, and race have resulted from the modernity (European). Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, and the subsequent rapid developments have led to the emergence of the knowledge system in Europe and in the contemporary Western world.
Most of the literature on terrorism suggests that the first serious attempt to define the concept of terrorism dates back to 1934 when, in an article in the Social Science Encyclopaedia, J. B. S. Hardman defined terrorism as the methodology or theory underlying the approach by which a group or organisation seeks to reach its stated goals by systematically using violence.
The study of terrorism as an independent (discipline) field of study did not take place and did not receive the attention of researchers either in the Western or in the Islamic worlds until the attacks of 11 September 2001. Before that, there were sporadic attempts, especially in government security studies but it was not an independent field of epistemology, and this was a source of complaint to some researchers in this field. Most scholars confirm that terrorism is a form of political violence. This is due to the historical roots of the concept which dates back to the Reign of Terror that accompanied the French Revolution (1793-1795). It is also a technique of conflict and can be a special strategy to those who adopt it.
In a major study, contributed by 30 researchers and academics, sponsored by the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs in Oslo, published in June 2003, it has been concluded that there are four main reasons for terrorism:
Structural causes include:
- The process of globalization, its pressures, and widespread impacts
- Demographic imbalance
- Acceleration of modernity
- The increased sense of individuality
- Transnational communities
- Structure of social classes
1. Supporting or accelerating reasons, amongst most important are:
- The process of globalization, specifically the accelerated (technological) development by means of communication, interconnecting, transport, media and various weapons.
- Weakness and lax control of countries on their national borders.
2. Stimulating or motivating causes include:
- Feelings of personal frustration. In this regards, influential political leaders, commanders, and influential clerics play key and dangerous roles in the process of transferring terrorism to its maximum limits; from level 1 (structural causes) to level 3.
3. Triggering causes, the most important and primary causes of terrorism; they are amongst the most important. Of which are:
- Aggression, war, and occupation.
- Reactions to aggression or feelings of injustice and humiliation.
- Revenge in the broader sense.
Contemporary insurance as an active player in globalization and terrorism
The various mechanisms of globalization work on expanding the concept of security. Globalisation expands the interrelated and common interests of different countries, thereby, increasing the number of vulnerable targets for terrorist networks. The broadening of the world’s base of interest has created a larger target area for terrorist networks, thereby facilitated its work on the one hand, and helped the state to defend these areas on the other hand. Hence, the equation becomes as follows:
Increasing globalization—-> increasing the space of the conflict arena —-> Facilitating and increasing terrorist operations -> increasing the need for insurance against terrorism risks.
The year 2014 registered the worst trend in the history of terrorism where 93 countries or 57% countries of the world suffered terrorist attacks. This is considered the highest rate of terrorist operations in the past 16 years, with a total of 32,765 people killed.
This means that more than half of the world’s countries have been exposed to terrorism. It also points out that the extent and scope of terrorism have become transnational. Therefore, there is an urgent need for protection against terrorism and to insure against its accelerating perils.
Dr. Saud Al-Sharafat, is a former Brig. Gen in the Jordanian General Intelligence Director(GID) and founder and Chairman of Shorufat ِCenter for Globalization and Terrorism studies, Amman – Jordan. His writings mainly focus on issues pertinent to globalization and international terrorism.