Thursday, February 10, 2005

Benchwarming Terrorists: The B-Team ETA

An interesting discussion on the ETA arose today in my political science class regarding the topic of regionalism in Spain. After we did a quick evaluation of the history of the ETA, surveyed a summary of some statistics relating to the geographical location of targets and the different periods in which acts of violence were most prevalent, a thought dawned on me. The ETA has existed for over thirty years, and according to the objective study of terrorism and the acceptance of their most prevalent objective, the granting of the Basque Autonomous Community the status of a “free associated state,” I sat back and realized, “The ETA seems to be for the most part, a failure.”

However, I did not arrive at this conclusion through mere whimsical deductions and charismatic contemplation. For the past three years, I have become increasingly passionate about the study of terrorism, enhanced by the fact that I have taken numerous classes at Penn State studying in detail this phenomenon. In order to quickly explain the rationale for my comment on the ETA, I took into consideration several key features of terrorism that often determine the successfulness of operation.

1.) Clear objectives – although the ETA appears to have one main objective, that of autonomous status, historically they have pursued this goal through less than precise means (indiscriminate bombings, alternating targets, etc.) leading to the belief that their motives may be mixed or fluctuating.
2.) Public factor – the goal of terrorists is to obviously influence an audience. In the ETA’s case, the state of Spain, and in particular the Spanish government. However, there is a crucial balance that they appear to have lost. For the most part, the Spanish people seem to have reacted adversely to the Basque separatist cause, therefore, the “sympathy call” has not been elicited. Further, nearly 50% of the people within the Basque country do not agree with the actions of the ETA; this cannot be a good start.
3.) Means – this is where I am stuck. The ETA has been for the most part, unsuccessful, and for this I may conclude that it is due to their tactics.

And so, the question that I asked my professor in class was, “Having observed the immediate appearance of al-Qaeda terrorism in Spain (i.e. 3/11) and the ability to instantly achieve its goal, why has the ETA perhaps not tried elevating the violence of their attacks?” Discussion ensued for several minutes, and what I was able to decipher was that the ETA has been largely dissolved due to police involvement and the initial ban on the Batasuna. Despite this response, I’m not sure I buy this argument considering the extensive cell network that exists throughout Spain and into France. Although this was simply an observation made out of the blue, I am sincerely interested in this new interplay created by the visible appearance of Islamic terrorism in Spain. Hopefully, this will be a subject that I continue to write about in the future, until then, I will continue to search.


Blogger Aleksu said...

Only one little detail, the rejection of ETA in the Basque Country is close to 99%, not 50%.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Thanks Blex for your continual readership. I didn't realize that the overwhelming majority is against the ETA. Considering it is difficult to find an exact number, I went off of what my professor in Politics and Regionalism had said.

9:38 AM  
Blogger ghytred said...

Consider parallels to the IRA in Ireland.

The IRA has been going far longer than ETA, and now appears - to me, a Brit - to be semi-institutionalised: a way of life for its members who may or may not be serious about Irish 'unification' any more but are certainly serious about the local power and influence it brings them.

I don't know whether ETA is at all similar but it wouldn't surprise me at all if they were.

5:21 AM  
Blogger Aleksu said...

Jonathan, that is a misconception that needs to be exposed as soon as possible.

The majority of the Basque public understands that violence only generates violence.

7:34 AM  

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