World View: Martin McGuinness and the real nature of terrorism

Terror is the weapon of those who believe they would lose, or are losing, a traditional military trial of strength – it’s the response of the weak

Former US president Bill Clinton has paid an emotional tribute to Martin McGuinness, the former Sinn Féin deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander at his funeral in a packed St Columba's Church in Derry. Video: Alan Betson

Objectively speaking, as the Marxists like to say, the attack on Westminster Palace was, in strictly military terms, of no significance, a pinprick. That is not to be callous about the deaths and real pain inflicted by Khalid Masood on innocents, or about a morally repugnant act, but simply to observe that, despite the understandable media hullaballoo, this strike on the mother of parliaments was of no strategic import. The hullaballoo was the purpose, and in that the attack succeeded.

In traditional warfare, in the wake of a military engagement we can measure a loss of ground, a shift in the balance of forces, or a weakening of one side or another through the defeat of its forces or commanders. We can see a step forwards or backwards in relation to the ultimate objective of toppling a regime.

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