Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



Terrorism, in its essence, consists of common crimes: murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, arson and whatever other act of violence is utilized for terrorist ends and as terrorist means. Admittedly the world's democracies have not only failed to develop an acceptable definition for the global arena, they have also been unable to fashion a proper meaning for their own domestic statutes. We should never forget the symbiotic relationship which exists between terrorism and democracy. As the French political analyst, Jean Francois Ravel, has cogently remarked: "The main target of international terrorism is the idea of freedom as embodied in the democratic state." Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes, whose politics I do not accept, has expressed this view in graphic and succinct words: "Terrorism is but the dark flower of a poisonous plant--disregard for the rule of law."

Our society is based on the rule of law. Terrorism challenges not only the United States but all free peoples everywhere. We must devise diplomatic measures, political actions and legislative initiatives which will counter the terrorist war and which will subject the terrorist to penalty and punishment either by the American legal system or by the other free societies and their governments and also, if necessary, impose economic sanctions, symbolic or otherwise.

This leads to certain questions that the Symposium touched on this morning that I hope we have attempted to answer in all our presentations.