The International Political Economy of Terrorism

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Topic: Understanding Terrorism

Table of content
1.Introduction: Page 3
2. How terrorism works: Page 4
2.1Terrorism and decision making: Page 4
2.2 The spring of terrorism: Page 4
3. Consequences of terrorism: Page 5
4. Political development in the 20th Century: Page11
5. How to end terrorism: Page 13

1. Introduction “In compliance with Allah’s order, we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims: The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies – civilians and military- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the alAqsa Mosque and the holy mosque from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam.1 The above quotation is Usama bin Laden’s declaration of Jihad to the United States of America and marks the beginning of an unprecedented form of global terrorism that has been ever since threatening the world-community. Even though acts of terrorism have been documented since the early 1970s, extremism was only able to reach its present terror through the advent of a global economy that increased the impact an incident in one country can have on many other countries. It has become indispensable to contain the risk of terrorism in any economic interaction, from the booking of an airplane ticket to the expansion of one’s business to another country. Also, any political decision made in our modern world may have consequences far beyond the borders of the country that it has been issued in and thus holds a potential risk for terrorism. Terrorist attacks have become a constant topic in modern media with reports about new incidents being issued almost daily. Being confronted with statements like the one by Usama bin Laden quoted above and images of terrorist attacks on civilians, the public opinion on terrorism has been formed by a lack of understanding the backgrounds of these statements and attacks that is due to a natural bias against violence. In the following, I will try to reach beyond anecdotes and case-studies to paint a more complete picture of global terrorism. It will be my duty to understand how a rational person – and as I will show, terrorists are not irrational – can turn to terrorism and destroy the lives of innocent people for the cause of his organization. Many scholars of political science have concentrated on this field of research and put forth analysis of various terrorist incidents. Whatsoever, I want to concentrate on the economic and political effects of terrorism and on political development to find systematic evidence for its causes. Finally a strategic summary of measures taken to contain terrorism will culminate in a diagnosis of their errors and hopefully in the finding of new tactics to efficiently eliminate terrorism.

1

Calvert 2008: P.227

2.

How terrorism works
In their book “The Political Economy of Terrorism” Walter Enders and Todd Sandler provide a sufficient definition of terrorism that will help us understand how it works. It is said that “terrorism is the premeditated use or threat to use violence by individuals or subnational groups in order to obtain a political or social objective through the intimidation of a large audience beyond that of the immediate victims.”2 This implies that terrorists aim to circumvent the normal, political channels and create political change through a sort of blackmailing that is only possible due to the pressure of a population that urges its government to act. The decisions political actors than take as a result of terrorist attacks may be understood from a game theoretic point of view as weighing against each other the costs of cooperating with terrorist groups (which might lead to further terrorist attacks by other groups that assume that the government might also cooperate with them) and the cost of risking future terrorist attacks. These governmental decisions are exceedingly difficult as they will have consequences...
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