Not long ago, US President Joe Biden’s administration unveiled a Nationwide Tactic to Counter Domestic Terrorism (NSCDT). The Biden administration is of the view that “domestic terrorism” has developed into the most urgent terrorism menace confronted by the US.
The NSCDT has appear in the backdrop of the announcement of full US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, two a long time following the 9/11 assaults. This is a important advancement due to the fact since the 9/11 attacks, most of the American, and without a doubt worldwide, political landscape has appear to be dominated by the concern of combatting terrorism. In these types of a context, this reframing of the discourse of terror has major political and ideological implications which replicate the shifting contours of world politics.
The politics of terrorism
Terrorism is a political act due to the fact compared with other violent crimes, functions of terror, are brought on by ideological convictions primarily based on which the terrorists intend to re-shape modern society. As a result, determining what constitutes terrorism is a single of the most vital political selections that present day country-states make. Defining terrorism is the act of delimiting the political neighborhood. In other words, it is an act of delegitimising and excluding specified kinds of political claims from the polity.
Much more importantly, defining what constitutes terrorism is the sole prerogative of the condition as no particular person or organisation ever willingly accepts this label. States have applied this privilege as a software to frame the political discourse in terms of a option in between rights and protection, therefore, enhancing their personal electricity at the price of their citizens. Furthermore, states have employed the fear induced by functions of terror to stifle general public cause in purchase to manufacture consent to go after their objectives at household and overseas. Domestically these acts have incorporated suspending liberties, concentrating on dissidents, stigmatising minorities and entrenching authoritarianism, whilst in the arena of international coverage this has entailed imposing economic sanctions and waging wars.
Consequently, how the state chooses to frame the discourse of terrorism is as crucial as the act of terror which compels it to do so. For the past three a long time, the discourse of terror has been framed by means of the civilisational lens.
Terror and the clash of civilisations
In the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Huntington in his (in)well known thesis, expected that in this stage of heritage, ideological and financial conflicts would be replaced by a clash of civilisations. This period would be characterised by the conflict between the west and the rest, and the direction of worldwide politics would be outlined by the alliances and conflicts among a handful of major civilisations. In this framework, culture was the main determinant of politics as opposed to economic interests. The concern, “Which facet are you on?” was changed by, “What are you?” suggestions replaced by identification. This essentialised and cultural restatement of worldwide politics was in line with the neoliberal intellectual project which aimed to demonstrate the globe mostly via the lens of id instead than course.
The neoconservative Bush administration utilized this body as an ideological justification for its invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq following the 9/11 attacks. Bush described the “War on Terror” as the ‘battle for civilisation’. In his articulation, terror became the other of civilisation whereas, civilisation came to be described by way of American values or precepts of liberal democracy. The ‘war on terror’ founded “Islam” as an intolerant opponent of the concepts of liberty, democracy and decency in well known consciousness. This civilisational definition of terror was milked by majoritarian political projects across the planet to marginalise Muslims in their countries and vice-versa.
Clash in just civilisation?
Having said that, the entire world improved immediately after the world wide economical disaster. Trump inherited an intense China, a sluggish economic climate and an unequal society. His entire political system was dependent on ending the expansive neoconservative ambitions of the US in the entire world and concentrating at residence. However, he fed off and exacerbated the existing stigma close to Islam and indulged in open up Muslim-baiting to consolidate his predominantly white-conservative base.
Extra importantly, his presidency saw unparalleled racial polarisation, white nationalist mobilisation and mass shootings by avowed white supremacists. This sort of situations were not unparalleled even so, Trump bestowed them with legitimacy by his functions of omission and equivocation. These sporadic incidents all culminated in the assault on the Capitol Hill subsequent the speech by Trump encouraging his supporters to march in protest. The clash in just civilisation could no longer be hid.
In accordance to the Strategic Intelligence Assessment and Information on Domestic Terrorism information, given that 2015, there have been 85 functions of domestic terrorism of varying depth in the US. Since 9/11, 107 Us residents have dropped their life due to Islamist fundamentalist terror whilst domestic terrorism has accounted for 114 deaths in the similar period. It is in this context, that the Biden administration has turned the gaze back again inwards and declared domestic terrorism as the most pressing threat to US interior safety.
In a way, it is a continuation of the isolationism initiated by the Trump administration. On the other hand, locating the root of domestic terrorism inside of the ideology of racial supremacy and acknowledging the urgent will need to disrupt the dehumanisation of and violence towards ethnic and spiritual minorities – including Muslims – is a fundamental shift from the before the civilisational paradigm to determine terrorism. So, NSCDT can be seen as a pivot back to ideology from identity with regard to defining terrorism.
The elevation of domestic terrorism as the biggest internal safety threat by the US signals the beginning of the submit-‘war on terror’ section of international politics. The US has once again shifted the anchors of the discourse of terrorism from civilisational identification to political ideology. It is a tacit acceptance that the liberal order is under attack not only from spiritual fundamentalism outdoors but from ethnic majoritarianism within just the polity as effectively. This has critical implications for the relaxation of the environment, and specially, majoritarian jobs throughout the environment which have fed off this discourse, as now they can’t pin terrorism to only a single civilisation and may well be pressured to appear in just. Just like Biden’s America…
Anshul Trivedi completed his MPhil from the Centre for Political Scientific tests, JNU. He is an activist and a freelance journalist. He tweets @anshultrivedi47.