I think what the world needs, is an agreement on asymmetric warfare. The past has shown that the world cannot agree on a definition of “terrorism”, and I think that makes sense. Usually the others are terrorists, if they are:
Personally, I’d like to see terrorists treated like either common criminals, to be put on trial, with evidence being sought against them, a defense being arranged for them, and so on. That’s what all prisoners in the American concentration camps deserve, if you ask me (Guantánamo, and others, should there be more, as some people suspect).
Why not treat terrorists like soldiers in a war? The first problem with calling the fight against various organisations a single “war” is that it will never end. Like the “war on drugs” or a “war on crime” – the concept is silly. A war between two nations involves a command structure and a government. Once it surrenders, the troops surrender, a peace treaty is negotiated, and the prisoners of war are released.
If the various organisations don’t recognize a single “government”, then you can never knock out the “government” – you can never win unless you imprison every single one of them.
Actually, that’s just how crime fighting works: You imprison every single one of them. And you also give them a fair trial. Sounds good to me.
And even if you did win a war against terrorrism, you wouldn’t want to release the prisoners. You’d want to put them to try them for war crimes and crimes against humanity (if they didn’t commit any, how can they be terrorists?) So you want to put them to (a fair!) trial anyway.
The current situation, were the existence of an organisation can serve as the pretext to bombing ports, airports, bridges, and buildings is just not acceptable. Similarly, detention for indefinite lengths of time, cruel and inhuman treatment of prisoners, neither providing them the protection of the Geneva Conventions nor civil rights – that too, is not acceptable.