Since ancient times terrorist attacks have been a dirty political technology used for achieving some political goals. But terrorism became a social issue with the development of mass information media and the usual targets of terrorism changed – they are no longer only politicians, but also ordinary civilians.
Panic – the real weapon
The result of a terrorist attack is the media reaction that leads to panic. Terrorists attack ordinary people so it is clear that everyone is exposed to the threat. The number of the casualties does no matter if you make the whole population of a country live in fear. Undoubtedly, car crashes in our everyday life kill much more people than terrorism, but terrorism is one more threat and the population feels that an attack may happen any time. This leads to indignation against the institutions that cannot provide security for the people.
It is not a secret that USA fostered mujahideen terrorism in the war between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan (1979-1989). For the West, the Chechen terrorists in Russia in the 1990s were merely ”fighting for freedom”. USA changed their minds about Afghan terrorists after they began taking hits from Al-Quaeda. They will probably change their minds on the Chechen extremists after the Boston attacks. So the West should make a clear statement that no terrorist action should receive approval. But this will hardly happen.
Instead of a conclusion
Something to think about: fighting against terrorism lead to an almost totalitarian control over the life of all civilians – we have cameras everywhere and stronger police control. No matter who ordered terrorism, it definitely helped the ruling class have a strong grip on the population.