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Fatal Future?

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Fatal Future?
Transnational Terrorism and the New Global Disorder. By Richard M. Pearlstein. (University of Texas Press, Austin: 2004. Pg. xiv, 198.) ISBN: 0-292-70265-5.

Reviewed by Sheldon Ztvordokov - June 7, 2004

The American War Against Terrorism, at the moment, appears to be directed solely against militant Islamic terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda. However, on the global stage, militant Islam is not the only breeding ground for terrorist. Ethnocentric terrorist groups can be found all over the globe. ETA, a Christian, Basque separatist organization has carried out terrorist attacks in France and Spain. Aum Shinrikyo has carried out a biological terrorist attack in Japan, and the Oklahoma City Bombing was carried out by 'homegrown' terrorists acting, apparently, independent of a larger organization.

In Fatal Future? Transnational Terrorism and the New Global Disorder, Richard M. Pearlstein takes a detailed look at the broad spectrum of terrorist groups that are currently active. He also looks at how terrorist groups have changed since the end of the Cold War. Throughout, he explores what motivates these groups, what their goals are, and the resources they have available to carry out their goals. As important, he also explores methods of combating terrorism - and what might happen if they are not stopped.

>From weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) to cyberterrorism, the arsenal available to these groups is staggering. Many terrorist groups, such as Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), are extremely well funded, which enables them to easily purchase weapons and to carry out attacks around the globe. In the course of this eye-opening text, Pearlstein touches upon both well known terrorist groups such as the IRA (Irish Republican Army) to lesser known ethnoterrorist groups, such as Puerto Rican Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN). He also details a variety of right-wing terrorist groups such as the Aryan Nations and left-wing terrorist groups like the Red Brigades in Italy and the Symbionese Liberation Army in the United States.

In Fatal Future?, Pearlstein defines what terrorism is, how today's privately funded international terrorist organizations differ from their predecessors. While the main focus of this text is ethnoterrorism and radical Islamic terrorism, he also briefly examines other forms and causes of terrorism. This is an eye-opening, thought-provoking book that offers a reader a general overview of the history of modern terrorism, the risks posed by these groups, and what might happen if these groups acquire and become proficient using chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons.

This text includes extensive endnotes and an outstanding and up-to-date bibliography on the subject of terrorism. This book is perfect for anyone wishing to gain an understanding of the fundamental underpinnings of global terrorism, how the terrorist might be stopped, and for those wishing to gain an understanding about the future risks posed by these groups. It is also well suited for use in college level courses on international political / world affairs, terrorism, political science, and modern history.


Related Reviews:

Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorism, by Benjamin Netanyahu.
A virtual course in Terrorism 101, Netanyahu provides an incredibly in-depth overview of the threat posed by various terrorist groups, their history and motivations, and the steps that can be taken to halt their activities.

The Rise of the Islamic Empire and the Threat to the West, By Anthony J. Dennis.
A provocative book about the rise of Islamic Fundamentalist and the threat that it poses for the West.

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