Osama bin Laden, the person, more likely serves the function of a stand-in. Compare the new terrorists with partisans or conventional terrorists in Israel. These people often fight in a decentralized manner in small, autonomous units, too.
Some of those drawn into the holy war had been secular nationalists only a few years before. If one looks at the biographies of these people, remarkable continuities are revealed.
I consider Bush's decision to call for a war against terrorism a serious mistake. He is elevating these criminals to the status of war enemies, and one cannot lead a war against a network if the term war is to retain any definite meaning.
Instead of the international police action we had hoped for during the war in Kosovo, there are wars again - conducted with state-of-the-art technology, but still in the old style.
The misery in war-torn Afghanistan is reminiscent of images from the Thirty Years' War.
Partisans fight on familiar territory with professed political objectives to conquer power. This is what distinguishes them from terrorists.
The clever, albeit fragile, coalition against terrorism brought together by the U.S. government might be able to advance the transition from classical international law to a cosmopolitan order.
The scenarios of biological or chemical warfare painted in detail by the American media during the months after September 11 only betray the inability of the government to determine the magnitude of the danger.
After September 11, the European governments have completely failed. They are incapable of seeing beyond their own national scope of interests.
The difference between political terror and ordinary crime becomes clear during the change of regimes, in which former terrorists become well-regarded representatives of their country.
If the September 11 terror attack is supposed to constitute a caesura in world history, it must be able to stand comparison to other events of world historical impact.
Perhaps September 11 could be called the first historic world event in the strictest sense: the impact, the explosion, the slow collapse - a gruesome reality literally took place in front of a global public.
Global terrorism is extreme both in its lack of realistic goals and in its cynical exploitation of the vulnerability of complex systems.
Disappointment over nationalistic authoritarian regimes may have contributed to the fact that today religion offers a new and subjectively more convincing language for old political orientations.
A threatened nation can react to uncertain dangers solely through administrative channels, to the truly embarrassing situation of perhaps overreacting.