Frank Smitha on London bombings (July 22, 2005)
Experts and others are describing the London bombers as having a message and a strategy with that message. But the extent of today's bomber strategy is not much different from anarchist bombers a century ago.
The anarchist bombers acted on animosity, perhaps revenge, and "hit your enemy however you can, the more sensational the better". Some anarchist bombers might have believed that continuing to kill people would force the enemy - the rich and powerful - to stop their aggravations and fade away. Some might have believed that by blowing people up their cause would gain the support needed to overwhelm their enemy, but the bombers of a century ago utterly failed except in some sort of self-indulgent immediate satisfaction at hitting what they hated.
The London bombers are described as wishing to deliver the message that they have power, but this is not a part of a well-reasoned strategy. The bombing movement of a century ago and the fascist movements of the 1920s and '30s arose within a historical context and were part fad. So too with the Islamic extremists today. Variation among Muslims will always be, but not a movement that believes that numerous people we see as innocent are an enemy deserving death.
Publicity helps keep the movement alive, but it makes too many enemies and not enough people join them. The movement is resisted, and whatever inspires its members fades, while good strategies - those of moderates - win support and prevail.