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In counterterrorism circles, the standard response to questions about the possibility of future attacks is the terse one-liner: “Not if, but when.” This mantra supposedly conveys a realistic approach to the problem, but, as Joseba Zulaika argues in Terrorism, it functions as a self-fulfilling prophecy. By distorting reality to fit their own worldview, the architects of the War on Terror prompt the behavior they seek to prevent—a twisted logic that has already played out horrifically in Iraq. In short, Zulaika contends, counterterrorism has become pivotal in promoting terrorism.
Exploring the blind spots of counterterrorist doctrine, Zulaika takes readers on a remarkable intellectual journey. He contrasts the psychological insight of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood with The 9/11 Commission Report, plumbs the mindset of terrorists in works by Orianna Fallaci and Jean Genet, maps the continuities between the cold war and the fight against terrorism, and analyzes the case of a Basque terrorist who tried to return to civilian life. Zulaika’s argument is powerful, inventive, and rich with insights and ideas that provide a new and sophisticated perspective on the War on Terror.
Introduction: Rethinking the War on Terror
PART I. The Rhetorics of Terrorism
Chapter 1. Writing Counterterrorism: The Betrayal of the Public Intellectual
Chapter 2. Who’s Afraid of Truman Capote: Writers versus Counterterrorists
PART II. Terrorist Subjectivities
Chapter 3. The Terrorist as Lover: Read My Terrorist Desire
Chapter 4. Eros, Terror, and Suicide: Life against Death
Chapter 5. Antigone, the Terrorist: The Passage à l'Acte That Traverses the Subject’s Fantasy
PART III. Self-Fulfilling Politics
Chapter 6. The Cold War Is Dead, Long Live Terrorism
Chapter 7. Dr. Strangelove Meets the Terrorist
Chapter 8. 9/11 and the Iraq War as Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
Epilogue: The Passion for Ignorance and Its Catch-22