Terrorism is defined by the US State Department as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience”. The atrocities in Paris at the weekend conform to every one of those characteristics.
All terrorist acts also have the same purpose – to trigger a response and to spread fear. The first of these reactions is already well under way, not just in France – which is scrapping compliance with the European Union’s fiscal compact so as to step up spending on security and defence – but across Europe, Russia and even the US. More concerted international and military action to eradicate Isil now seems highly likely. Politically and fiscally, security has overnight become the number one priority.