POLI244 Lecture Notes Nov 12th
o Conferences next week are cancelled
o Put your TA’s name of the cover of your paper
Different ways of thinking about terrorism
Difficult to define
How do you study it?
General theoretical definition of Terrorism:
o A tactic of sorts (similar to other tactic offered by Shelling, threats and coercion) that
o What are the political goals? (broadly)
To try and bring (coercive) pressure on governments or states by applying force
on the civilians.
o It can be intelligible, not random killing, but for a purpose.
o Historically not confined to one area of the world (Europe, Russia)
o Not limited to any ideology
More specific definition of Terrorism:
o Politically motivated violence against non-combatants by non-state actors, to evoke
o The use of force to oppose the status quo
o This definition is contested because it can be argued that states use this type of force to
coerce their own population.
o Meant to push us to consider the ends and means of violence, especially non-
o Ends and means of war that is not necessarily between states (Guerilla warfare, implied
to be endorsed by military and political actors is not terrorism, although there is an overlap with the individuals who are involved, one man’s terrorist is another man’s
o Terrorists are sometimes transnational actors, but not always. This blurs the boundaries
and makes it difficult to address the issues.
What are the weapons/tactics?
o A weapon of the weak, an asymmetrical form of warfare.
What is the difference between this type of violence and state violence?
o States often coerce non-combatants
o Think about the different theories explain or deal with the idea of terror?
Constructivism: issues of legitimacy,
If seen as Intelligible Violence:
o A rational strategy.
o Has a particular objective (to change policy in government)
o When is it appropriate to use?
When the terror group faces an overwhelming opponent (asymmetrical
If the target government is responsive to its citizens
o The terror organization has a very small constituency (hence why it is asymmetrical
o Is almost a form of bargaining. (remember what we have already seen) A signal to
opponent what your goal is, then coercively force them to meet your needs (Fearon,