University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
There is no internationally agreed definition of terrorism; however it can be defined as organized terror aimed at causing intimidation and coercion. Most common definitions of terrorism include those acts which are intended to create fear, achieve an ideological goal and deliberately target or disregard the safety of the dissidents. Terrorist activities may also include acts of violence, unconventional warfare as well as psychological warfare . The term terrorism is politically and emotionally charged and this greatly contributes to the difficulty of providing a concise definition.
A person who practices terrorism and who perpetrates terrorist activities is a terrorist. The concept of terrorism is in itself controversial since it is often used by states to de-legitimize political opponents and thus justify state’s own use of terror against those opponents. Terrorism has been used by a broad array of political organizations in furthering their objectives; both right and left wing political parties, nationalistic religious groups, revolutionaries and ruling governments.
In most cases, terrorism is associated with groups which are independent from a sovereign government. However, state authorities normally use some tactics to instill fear and terror to people so as to accomplish political objectives. Rulers and political leaders may also utilize terror to advance their political careers. This type of terrorism is referred to as state sponsored terrorism. State terrorism occurs in three different ways; the first one is state terror where a government or a state terrorizes its people to repress and control them.
The state or government uses its institutions such as the police force, military and other agencies which perpetrate torture, killings and destruction of properties to pursue the intended objective. An example of state terror is the Nazis policy to destroy state enemies and intimidate the rest of the population . Another example of government or state terror is the use of chemical weapons by Saddam Hussein, the former president of Iraq, on the Iraq Kurdish. The second type of state terrorism is state involvement in terror. In this case the government or the state carries out activities using terror tactics which are not acknowledged openly.
These tactics may be directed to the population or a group of individuals who are regarded as a threat to the state. An example of this kind of terrorism is the assassination campaign by the Soviet Union against nonconformists who had fled abroad. The third type of state terror is where a state sponsors or supports terrorism. This occurs when a government or a state provides training, supplies, finances and other forms of support to terrorist organizations. Some states also provide a safe haven for terrorists and terrorist organization.
The state may as well provide protection and immunity from extradition and also give diplomatic passports to terrorist groups . 2. 0 Causes of Terrorism It has not been conclusive on the factors and the goals that drive people to resort to carrying out terrorist acts. In most cases the factors and goals that lead to terrorist activities are intertwined and can be debatable. However, researched causes derived from terrorists’ manifestos imply that living conditions of terrorists are perceived as unjust and not decent and therefore its goals may be inferred.
This research paper looks at some causes of terrorism. Some of the causes seem to be more applicable than others while some causes tend to go hand in hand. Slater views terrorists as people who have lost hope of creating a peaceful and a better world. Although they may be middle class citizens who are educated, their despair is one of empathy for their society’s plight . It can therefore be argued that the main cause of terrorism is disaffected and disgruntled people who are in a crisis both morally and socially and who cannot mobilize masses.
These aggrieved groups turn into violence for several reasons. For instance, they can launch a resistance against external oppression resorting to violence on separatist or nationalist grounds. Foreign occupation and use of military force against Islamic fundamentalists has led to suicide terrorism. According to Pape, contrary to what many people think, Islamic fundamentalism cannot be associated with suicide terrorism. He further asserts that religion does not drive the overwhelming suicide attacks .
The main objective of these attacks is to compel the modern democracies to withdraw their forces from territories that terrorists feel they belong to them. For instance, the central objective of terrorist groups in Kashmir, Sri Lanka, Lebanon and Chechnya is to force a democratic nation to withdraw its military forces from what they regard as their territories . According to Keet, lack of democracy can facilitate or instigate terrorist activities. A democratic government should represent its people and provide political avenues to voice grievances thus providing a sphere where terrorism has no place.
However, in a state where citizens are denied basic rights and liberties by the government and its agencies, political violence may be justifiable. Political violence can also arise in a situation where a minority group is not adequately protected by the state and its security agencies when attacked by another minority group. An example of such a situation is in Israel where non-Jewish citizens are excluded from certain rights creating what is referred to as second class citizens . Pathological inequalities in wealth can be viewed as another source of terrorism.
While some people have acquired more wealth than they can possibly use, others are struggling to earn a living. Societies that enrich just a few at the expense of the majority of its population are societies which are heading for collapse . Distributing scarce resources to a few and leaving others absolutely deprived can lead to an economic inequality and it may cause a rebellion which in turn can lead to a political conflict. The poor and hopeless have found a refuge in radical ideologies and fundamentalist religions.
For instance, Islamic fundamentalism is the current opening for the desperate and poor. Islam extremists believe that you can take vengeance and at the same time go to heaven. In Christianity, the church has always encouraged the poor and desperate to accept misery of the world as a ticket of going to heaven. The cold war brought about a negative mindset which legitimized the acceptance of hatred among supporters of capitalism and communism. This hatred continues to nourish terrorist activities disregarding opponents as human beings by dehumanizing them.
Basically, this is an implication that violence is within us because of internalizing dehumanization. As a result, those who feel dehumanized have resorted to terrorism. Critics of globalization have associated the negative impact of economic, social and cultural globalization with terrorism. Intentional or unintentional effects of globalization in vulnerable regions such as the Middle East and Africa have proved to stimulate terrorist activities directed against democracies like the United States that promote globalization .
Terrorism can be viewed as a consequence of poverty and marginalization which are products of globalization. 3. 0 Conclusion The idea of foreign occupation and use of military force to transform Muslim communities will only increase suicide terrorism. The increasing number of military forces being stationed by America in the Arabian Peninsula has been a major motivation factor for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda to mobilize suicide terrorists. Iraq and Afghanistan occupations have stimulated suicide terrorists and have given them a justification for their suicide attacks.
As the American government formulates strategies and foreign occupation policies, it is fundamental to consider that suicide terrorism has no limited supply and that there are many religious fanatics willing to participate in it. It is also important for the government to note that terrorism is driven by foreign occupation where terrorists regard the territories occupied by the foreign forces as their homeland. The main objective of terrorism is to inflict the highest number of casualties on the targeted society. By so doing the society will pressure the authority to revise its policies.
If the government softens its policy, then the whole idea of terrorism decreases. For example, between 1982 and 1986, although suicide terrorism in Lebanon did not completely stop, it decreased drastically after United States and France withdrew their forces. And when Israel withdrew and put just a six mile buffer zone, the terrorists did not follow them . Having known the motivation for terrorist activities and particularly anti-American terrorist attacks in response to foreign occupation, the government should exclusively consider the duration the combat forces will remain in the Persian Gulf.
The longer the military forces stays in Arabian Peninsula, the higher the risk of more terrorists attacks whether suicide attacks or nuclear attack. References: Keet Marijke, (2005); Terrorism and Game Theory. Retrieved on 3rd October 2008 from: http://www. meteck. org/causesTerrorism. html Linda, Lim, (2002): Keynote Address: Terrorism and Globalization; an International Perspective. Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 35 Lutz M. James. & Lutz J. Brenda (2004); Global Terrorism.
ISBN 0415700507, 9780415700504, Routledge, Pape Robert. (2006): Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. ISBN 0812973380, 9780812973389, Random House Trade Paperbacks. Slater Philip, (2006): The Root Causes of Terrorism and Why No One Wants to End Them. Retrieved on 3rd October 2008 from: http://www. huffingtonpost. com/philip-slater/the-root-causes-of-terror_b_32466. html terrorism RESEARCH, (n. d); State Sponsored Terrorism. Retrieved on 3rd October 2008 from: http://www. terrorism-research. com/state/