Understanding Terrorism

Topics: Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Iraq War Pages: 16 (5718 words) Published: July 3, 2011
Defination of Terrorism.

   [ter-uh-riz-uhm] Show IPA
1. the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce,especially for political purposes. 2. the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization. 3. a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government. 4.| systematic use of violence and intimidation to achieve some goal|

Root causes of terrorism

One debate that seems to occupy the center stage in the discourse on terrorism is the one on its ‘root causes’. This debate has for long been a part of the non traditional approach of looking at conflicts and terrorism. The traditional approach that strongly advocates a law and order or military solution to the problem of terrorism has also begun to acknowledge that unless the ‘root causes’ of terrorism are eliminated, the war against terrorism can never be won   What are root causes and does terrorism have root causes? Is it necessary to address the root causes? A better way to focus on this debate would be to try and understand whether terrorism can be justified at all.   The Permanent UN Representative of Finland , speaking at a debate in the General Assembly, in Oct.2001 said—“there is no just terrorism whatever the causes”. The problem with the discourse on terrorism is the ‘ism’ attached to terror, ‘ism’ meaning a state or theory of terror. Terrorism is not the same as other isms like communism, nazism, fascism, liberalism, communalism….secularism. It is a means to an end that could very well be any of these ideological political systems. Since violent and destructive strategies cannot be justified for any cause, terrorism has no justification, if defined in terms of the violent acts that are committed.   To put it simply…..terrorism might grow out of inequality, oppression etc. but such circumstances do not justify terrorist attacks on unarmed civilians, by any political, religious, philosophical or moral considerations. Terrorism can be defined in terms of the act that has been committed without actually losing the argument over intentions, motivations and ideology of the perpetrators.   Another important point that needs due consideration is that the post-9/11 discourse on terrorism is dominated by American perceptions and strategic concerns. This is very crucial to the understanding of root causes. Before 9/11, no matter what we said about cross-border terrorism, the US was not listening. Post 9/11 it is nothing less than a ‘global war on terror’.   The unprovoked indiscriminate killing of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan is collateral damage. It is part of the legal war waged by states. If a non state actor in a similar manner attacks the nation states and unarmed civilians, it is terrorism despite the fact that there may be legitimate grievances behind those attacks. If one defines terrorism strictly in terms of the act and not the perpetrators, there are guilty states and no one to wage a global war against state terrorism!! States that have a history of sponsoring terrorist activities against other states are frontal allies in the US led ‘global war on terror’. A close observation will reveal that the acts are not different, only perpetrators are. Can we on the basis of who committed those acts claim that one terrorism is legal and the other is not?   The ‘root causes’ debate especially in the current context seems more like an eyewash to thrust the blame on particular regimes, cultures and societies, instead of a genuine attempt to look closely at the deeper issues underlying the problem. It is quite convenient for the US and its allies to argue, in the light of their failures in Iraq and Afghanistan and to curb terrorism, that the roots of terror lie in the backward looking, fundamentalist, non democratic societies which continue to breed terrorists. Are the US and its allies willing to accept our root causes? We might argue and even rightfully so that it is America ’s policies, Western neo...
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