Chapter 10 Reading
Key Issues in Contemporary IR 11/6/2012 4:12:00 PM
Terrorism is the unlawful use or threatened use of violence against civilians, often
to achieve political, religious or similar objectives
Most terrorism is national, not int'l
1960s, aircraft hijackings increased
1980s, increased incidence of radical Muslim groups attacking American targets
in Lebanon, Iran, Somalia,…
Int'l terrorism primarily concerned with radical Muslim groups
o Best known: al-Qaeda
How important is int'l terrorism?
o Controversial question
o Some say int'l terrorism is like crime and crime has been around forever,
therefore int'l terrorism is not that important
o Magnitude of Sept 11 changed this view.
o Organized crime and there is organized terrorism
o Before 9-11, very few terrorist attacks ever killed more than 100 people
o Int'l Terrorism not significant because:
Very few terrorist groups are int'l, most are national
This kind of int'l terrorism is specifically connected to radical,
fundamentalist version of Islam which is not representative of
Islam as such
Al-Qaeda is specifically connected to marginalized Muslim groups of
Mujahedin who joined together to fight against the Soviet
occupation of Afghanistan and were able to use that country as a
o Int'l terrorism is extremely significant because:
Complex societies are necessarily vulnerable
Limited possibilities for surveillance and control
Suicide terrorists carrying forceful, low tech bombs cannot
be easily stopped.
London Bomb attacks (2005) shows that citizens of the
country can be recruited
Some argue that US-led war in Iraq leads to “blowback
terrorism” meaning that terrorism recruitment increased There is danger of int'l terrorists gaining access to and using
weapons of mass destruction
Nature of Theoretical challenge: does the issue demand new approaches and
concepts or can it be covered by traditional approaches?
o Realist approach: security issues
o Liberals: terrorist groups are a set of non-state actors that influence the
o IPE theorists: political economy of int'l terror
Realism focuses on security between states, non-state actors are
often ignored by realists
Realists translate the terrorist threat into a threat from another
state (some state must be backing the t. group)
John Mearsheimer: use of military force in Middle East will and has
created resentment by the natives of the US and will cause natives
to support and join t. groups.
Appreciate non state actors
Emphasize the need for int'l cooperation in facing the t. threat.
Religion in IR: A Clash of Civilizations?
After Peace of Westphalia, religion became a private entity, one separate from
Modernization deeply integrated in secularization
o Controversial: Peter Berger claims the world is as religious as it ever was.
o Clash of Civilizations thesis
Dominating source of conflict is cultural
o Core of a civilization is religion
But is there a common religious cultural pattern across a wide
range of societies?
o Consistency of civilizations (religions persist)
In order for civilizations to be in opposition of each other, there
must be consistent qualities.
However, there is too much diversity and dynamic change within
civilizations Rise in the influence of religion on politics
o Religious orgs are growing in their power to shape public debate and the
policies of govs.
o Religious orgs exercise a transnational influence upon the politics of
o Religion shapes policies of states and their constitutions