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Under different names and guises, terrorism has been around for centuries. Like a mutating virus, it constantly evolves and adapts to reflect the state that it aims to destroy. So said Philip Chase Bobbitt of the University of Texas during his Oct. 31 Brendan Brown Lecture. One of America’s leading theorists in international security, Bobbitt explained that the rise to prominence of nation-states in the 20th century was mirrored by terror organizations that posed as nationalist movements: the IRA, the PLO, etc. Today, said Bobbitt, we see “market-states,” countries defined more by trade patterns than national boundaries. In response, terrorist movements have become more rootless, less ideological and more lethal than their predecessors. A perfect example: Al Qaeda.

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