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Political Science
POLI 244
Mahesh Shankar

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1, 2012: New Threats—Terrorism, Environment  In common understandings, terrorism is seen as a goal and people believe the sole aim of terrorism is causing harm and violence. Terrorism is a means to a goal, not a goal itself. It is a strategy, in most cases.  Terrorism involves the use of violence by an organization, individual, or any non- state actors, with the aim or terrorizing or intimidating a state’s government or its citizens, with the aim of coercing that government to change a policy.  It is usually driven by a fundamental grievances, such as the drive for self- determination, or nationalist goals—“freeing the homeland”. More moderate goals could be territorial—political autonomy, separation. Ethnic conflicts and civil wars were states are seen as guilty of discrimination against a particular group could inspire terrorism.  Ex) al Qaeda—originally the goal was to keep Americans out of Iraq, the birthplace of Islam, but progressively this involved getting the Americans out of the Muslim world in general, because they were seen to be spreading western thoughts and undermining Islam.  The LTTE sought a massive amount of autonomy for the Tamil region of Sri Lanka, and the goal was independence for a Tamil state based on a conviction that the Tamils would never be treated fairly under the Sinhalese majority. They wanted to intimidate the government and the Sinhalese majority.  Other examples are Hamas (Palestinians motivated by the desire to have Israel give up Palestinian lands), and the PKK (Kurdish separatist movement engage in terrorism to get the Turkish government to recognize Kurdish economy).  What are the forms of terrorism?  There are two ways in which they can pursue their strategy:  The first is “demonstrative” (hostage taking, airline hijacking, pre-announced explosions). They use violence, but try to minimize and limit the violence. This is aimed at getting sympathy of onlookers and audiences for their goals. The audience could be outsiders and they could seek to indicate to moderates and even those in the government that strong grievances do exist in the minority or oppressed population, and if these grievances are not dealt with the violence will escalate. The third audience is third parties and the international community— they hope low-moderate intensity acts will attract attention of third parties who might not have paid attention to the problems in the first place but can recognize that problems exist and push the state into being more moderate.  The second case, which occurs eventually in most instances, is “destructive” terrorism, or suicide terrorism. This is what we associate with terrorism. They are willing to give up sympathy and support and risk the possibility that they will use the support by resorting to more violence that will cause real harm to the target state or society. They want to maximize violence and destruction. There is a trade off when you increase in violence but lose sympathy. Over time, groups tend to go with the more destructive forms of violence. The decision to use this violence is often based on a strategic belief or experience in moderate policies that have not worked. They believe that the only way the adversary state will be forced to do something about the population is to make them aware that the actual costs of not doing so are extremely high. It is more of a coercive bargaining strategy—a form of compellance. Suicide terrorism pushes the logic of coercive bargaining to the extreme, but there is a reason why it is so effective. First, it is the tactic that causes the most damage and loss of life. Usually it involved suicide bombers blowing themselves up and it strongly conveys the message of the pain to come. It does not work against deterrence, because if a person is willing to kill him or herself there is nothing you can threaten them with. It also is difficult to stop because it does not require meticulous planning. It is likely to create fear and they will use a more dangerous or more extremist method of spreading fear. Democracies tend to be the primary target of both suicide bombers and all other types of destructive terrorism. The targets cold be military personnel of enemy states, but more often they are aimed at killing as many domestic civilians as possible. There is a trade off here too- violence will turn off moderates, and decrease the chance that international actors will intervene of the terrorist group’s behalf.  Terrorism seeks to overcome actual
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