“I Was Busy Catching the Terrorists”

Number of terrorist incidents for 2009 (Januar...

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Oh why didn’t I know how “exciting” going back to school was before now? I was there sitting in International Relations Theory class, lamenting over my tragic life that has brought me to this very room when a young lady approaching me (I’ve always known to be so approachable). She looked so concerned when she said nicely, “Excuse me, but I didn’t see you in International Political Economy‘s class yesterday.” I came back from reverie and answered her question nonchalantly, “I was busy catching the terrorists.” I can tell the air of her face changed, but in a blink of an eye she gained her composure. She  laughed and said, “I shouldn’t have asked.”

As part of International Relations Department, me and my classmates from Terrorism studies  share some classes with International Relations students and that day is one of those days we have to blend with them. But for the first five minutes I was sitting there, I was starting to question my own decision to take this program. Suddenly I thought that I had made a serious-serious mistake.  I was so naive when thinking that I wouldn’t have to dig the grave to awake some long lost ghosts from the past, those things that I have buried so deep for a very long time ago–the ghost by the name of  “Balance of Power”, “Tool of Analysis”, “national interests“, the classic debate between “Realism versus Liberalism”… I didn’t even know that Viotti and  Kauppi were still alive and happily updating their book for 4th edition, a book once I had to devour for my undergrad program.

So I was sitting there staring blankly at my professor, hoping that he would hypnotize me and I would wake up with good memory about Kenneth Waltz and his Neo-Realism, Thucydides with his long narrative in the Peloponnesian War and Keohane with his Liberalism. Suddenly I was afraid I would face a nightmare very soon.

But this is also something that is bitter-sweet. I feel like coming home, talking about something in our own language that we share only with International Relations students. When we are discussing about how globalization facilitating and also triggering terrorism, we take it far into academic and intellectual realms without judging so-called terrorists are right or wrong. Suddenly I feel safe to question and quench my curiosity without worrying some people might get upset and accusing me “supporting” their actions just because I say that their choice is very rational.

One of my new friend, an International Relations graduate, came to a funny conclusion. “I think my thesis would be three or four pages only. Terrorism turns out to be just answering the question of why. Why? I don’t think I can write that long for that question.” I even haven’t thought about my thesis would be. I know I should start to think about it soon or later, but I’m still having a recurrent stomach ache, worrying about the missing part of Viotti and Kauppi’s International Relations Theory for my review assignment on post-modernism theories.

So I guess this is what I have myself committed into for the next two years: taking a creature called terrorism and put it on surgeon’s table, dissect them carefully with tool and level analysis, then put it under the microscope and examine it with a correct paradigm. And I hope I would gain not only understanding, but also explanation why (again the question of why) this political activity with violence occur. May God bless me with the strength and determination.

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