Political Science 1AB3 2017 Lecture 9a International terrorism
- Three overarching questions about terrorism:
- 1. Can we define terrorism in an objective way?
- 2. Can we explain terrorism as a social scientific phenomenon?
- 3. What were/are the consequences of the “War on Terror”?
o Was the American War on Terror a reasonable policy response
- A necessary first step before analyzing terrorism is to define it
- What is terrorism?
- There is a politics associated with defining terrorism
- The term is notoriously loaded
- For example, what is the difference between terrorism and state
- There are clear parallels between state violence and “terrorist”
- 1. Both kill civilians
- 2. Both are directed at obtaining political ends
- 3. Both cause terror in their wake
- Or what to make of the cliché: “One person’s terrorist is another
person’s freedom fighter”
- What makes a terrorist a terrorist rather than a freedom fighter?
- Where the same act is considered illegitimate terrorism from one point
of view, but a legitimate struggle for freedom from another, any
objective categorization becomes questionable
- The point is, defining a group or an action as terrorist is an
unavoidably political act
- There is no obvious definition that would be accepted without vocal
opposition from one quarter or another
- The academic response to the definitional problem has been to either
reject the idea that the term ‘terrorism’ can be used objectively, or to
divide terrorism into a number of forms:
- A) State terrorism
1 - This term is used to capture cases where a government will
deliberately inflict violence on civilians in an attempt to obtain a