Political Science 1G06 2013 II Lecture 8a 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 are the consequences of the “War on Terror”?
o Was/Is the American War on Terror a reasonable policy response to 9/11?
o Said it was a military attack, so wanted to treat it as a military concern
- 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 violence?
- There are clear parallels between state violence and “terrorist” violence
- 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 overused cliché: “One person’s terrorist is another
person’s freedom fighter”
- What makes a terrorist a terrorist rather than a freedom fighter?
- Why is it that if they are successful in obtaining their goals, “terrorists” frequently
are retroactively labeled as revolutionary freedom fighters?
- Where the same act is considered illegitimate terrorism at one moment but a
legitimate struggle for freedom at another, any objective categorization becomes
- In other words defining a group or an action as terrorist is an unavoidably political
- 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
term ‘terrorism’ as an objective label, or to divide terrorism into a number of
- A) State terrorism
- This term is used to capture cases where a government will deliberately inflict
violence on its own citizens in an attempt to “suppress dissent and silence
- B) State-sponsored terrorism
- In this case the term refers to cases where a state government will offer material
“support to internation