PHIL 237 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: 1998 United States Embassy Bombings, November 2015 Paris Attacks, Boston Marathon Bombing

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16 Aug 2016
PHIL 237
Lecture 9 — Feb 15
Terrorism as we understand today is not only politically oriented, but seems to be connected to
Islamic components
-Puts into question core western values — causing Westerners to believe all of Islam is evil
-Western perception on terrorism is different than it was 20 or 30 years ago
-Perhaps political violence is judged severely today compared to what it was 20 or 30 years
ago — years ago it wasn’t as rare for leftist or rightest political movements?
-Terrorism has a different meaning today, compared to when philosophers such as Walzer was
writing about it — they were writing at a time when there was a different meaning for
terrorism; a more cold non-passionate discussion
Can we say that, “terrorism is NEVER acceptable?”
Ariel MerariTerrorism as a Strategy of Insurgency
Two Parts:
-Definition of terrorism: conceptual clarifications
-Effectiveness of terrorism
Definition of Terrorism — how can we define terrorism?
1. The use of violence — both conventional war and guerrilla warfare constitute the use of
violence for political ends. Large-scale bombing of civilian populations in modern wars were
explicitly intended to spread fear among the targeted populations
2. The presence of political objectives — most mundane form of citizens’ violence against
other citizens is common crime. Usually motivated by reasons that have nothing to do with
political objectives, much of it is stimulated by personal gain
3. The intention of sowing fear in a target populations — terrorist strategy does not vie for
tangible control of territory, but rather impose their will on the general population by sowing
fear. Terrorism is a strategy that does not rely on liberated zones. As a strategy, terrorism
remains in the domain of psychological influence, and lacks the material elements of
guerrilla warfare.
First we must distinguish between different types of political violences, to adequately define
terrorism as 1, 2 and 3
Guerrilla Warfare: a war in which small groups of soldiers not belonging to regular or established
army units engage in fighting against typically larger regular forces
Attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Washington DC — 11 Sept 2001
Post 9/11 Era:
-November 2015 Paris Attacks (13 Nov 2015)
-Boston Marathon bombing (15 April 2013)
-London bombings (7 July 2005)
Contemporary Pre 9/11 Era:
-Tokyo subway sarian attacks (20 March 1995)
-Pan Am flight 103 or Lockerbie bombing (21 Dec 1998)
-Rome and Vienna airport attacks (Dec 1985)
-The 1998 United States embassy bombings (7 August 1998)
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Other/ older examples:
-FLQ bombings in Quebec in the 1970s
-The Munich Summer Olympics massacre (Summer 1972)
-Actions of the Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Terrorism is a strategy of insurrection and only applies to cases of citizens that target other
citizens. But there are many other types of insurgent violence by citizens
-The level of insurgency that terrorism involves is often very low
-Terrorist groups can be active for a long period of time
Michael WalzerTerrorism
Under which conditions terrorism may be considered acceptable?
Walzer’s Position:
-We must establish a distinction similar to the jus in bello distinction between combatant and
non-combatant populations
-Terrorism is much more of a problem if it makes non-political casualties and has non-
political targets
-Questions whether terrorism is permissible if there are no non-political targets — but
rather the target is the political system (no civilians are harmed)
-As soon as civilians are targets, that is when terrorism gets difficult
-Acceptable terrorists practices are usually similar to political assassinations
Reflexed within the code of honour of terrorism
Distinction between those that:
-Can be killed for political purposes
-Those that cannot be killed
3 Examples:
1. Assassination of Grand Duke Sergei — by Russian revolutionary groups deciding to kill the
Grand Duke who was personally involved with the repression of the radical activity. They
planned to blow him up in his carriage, and as the carriage drew near a young revolutionary
had a bomb hidden under his coat. He noticed that the victim was not along (hadd two small
children). The would-be assassin looked, hesitated, then walked away. The would-be
assassin decided to wait for another occasion, accepting this decision that: “even in
destruction, there’s a right way and a wrong way—and there are limits”
2. Irish Republican Army bombing in Coventry — 1938-1939. Republican militant was ordered
to carry a pre-set bomb to a Coventry power station, he traveled by bicycle but took a wrong
turn and got lost. As time for the explosion drew near, he panicked, dropped his bike and ran
off. When the bomb exploded, 5 passers-by were killed (none of them were in the IRA). This
was not intended to kill the innocent, although the IRA considered it a victory as none of
them were killed.
3. Assassination of Lord Moyne — British minister of state in the Middle East by members of
the Lehi terrorist group (Stern Gang) in Cairo, 1944. The two assassins were caught minutes
later by Egyptian police, one described that they were being followed, and he could have
killed the constable on his motorcycle behind him, but instead saw his comrade get shot and
then decided to not shoot the constable, thus he too was captured.
-Lehi: a Jewish terrist group in Egypt. They were chased by the policeman, but they were
not attacking a group of civilians, but rather were targeting political group (leftist movement)
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