Arguably the most successful act of revolutionary terror was the June 1914 assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand in Sarajevo.
Believing his mission to murder the heir to the Austrian throne had failed, Gavrilo Princip suddenly found himself standing a few feet away from the royal car. He fired twice, mortally wounding the archduke and his wife.
Tactically, that act of terror eliminated the reformist Ferdinand, who meant to address the grievances of his Slav subjects by granting them greater autonomy and equality with Austrians and Hungarians inside the empire.
Strategically, the assassination succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of its Black Hand plotters.
Hard-liners in Austria demanded an ultimatum to Serbia. When her demands were not met in full, Vienna declared war. Czar Nicholas mobilized in support of Russia's little Slav brothers. The Kaiser ordered mobilization. When the French refused to declare neutrality, Germany declared war. In hours, the British Cabinet had reversed itself to back war with Germany on behalf of Belgium and France.
Princip had lit the fuse that set off in six weeks the greatest war in history. While Serbia suffered per capita losses as great as any other nation, she ended the Great War as the lead nation in a Kingdom of the South Slavs embracing Slovenes, Croats, Bosnians, Albanians, Montenegrins, Macedonians and Hungarians. The Habsburg Empire at which Princip had struck had vanished.
Last week's Mumbai massacre seems a similar triumph of terror.
Tactically, by sending a platoon of suicide warriors into India's financial capital, terrorizing a train station, two five-star hotels and a Jewish center, and killing nearly 200 in over 60 hours, the plotters assured themselves of round-the-clock worldwide television coverage.
In so riveting the world's attention for four days, this terrorist atrocity was a success.
And by using Pakistanis to perpetrate the massacres and Karachi as port of embarkation, the plotters focused India's rage exactly where they want it, against Pakistan. By this slaughter in India's commercial capital, the Islamists have destroyed the detente Pakistan was seeking with India and pushed both toward war. Out to murder moderation and stoke militancy, the terrorists succeeded.
Years ago, this writer observed:
"Terrorism is a tactic, a technique, a weapon that fanatics, dictators and warriors have resorted to through history. If, as Clausewitz wrote, war is the continuation of politics by other means, terrorism is the continuation of war by other means."
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