Is the War on Terrorism a War?

Topics: Terrorism, Al-Qaeda, Asymmetric warfare Pages: 5 (1936 words) Published: June 5, 2013
“Is The War On Terrorism A War?”

The Global War on Terrorism is a military campaign that began shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001. First used by George W. Bush, the phrase ‘war on terror’ has become to be conceptualized as a term used to signify ‘global military, political, lawful, and conceptual struggle targeting both organizations designated as terrorists and regimes accused of supporting them.” The war on terror main focus has been with Islamist militants and Al-Qaeda. The war in Afghanistan and Iraq are both considered to be part of the war on terrorism. There is much speculation on whether the war on terror is actually a war. This essay will argue that both points of view are valid. There are reasons which validate the war on terrorism as being considered an actual war such as the fact that an actual decelaration of war was waged by both the US and Al-Qaeda, it can be considered a new way of war, and that ultimately like war, terrorism is a mean to a political end. On the other side of the spectrum, it may not be considered a war because it does not have a clear end or possible victory, it does not have a confined battle space as regular wars, and it is a ‘war’ against an immaterial concept such as the wars on poverty, drugs, and crime.

There is an extensive amount of literature on the subject of terrorism and especially the war on terror. Mia Bloom in ‘Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror’ examines the use strategies, successes, and failures of suicide bombing in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. She claims that in many instances the effort of Israel, Russia, and the United States have failed to deter terrorism and suicide bombings. Bloom also contemplates how terrorist groups learn from one another, and thus how they react and retaliate to counterterror tactics the financing of terrorism, and the role of suicide attacks against the backdrop of larger ethnic and political conflicts. Another current scholar writing on terrorism is Mark Juergensmeyer. Juergensmeyer studies religious terrorism more specifically. Bruce Hoffman gives a brilliant insight to terrorism and all its aspects. Hoffman describes its historical evolution and the mindset of the terrorist. He examines this invisible enemy and his tactics and motivation in a globalized world. Hoffman argues that the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers radically altered the USA’s and the Wests view on terrorism.

When attempting to answer the above question it is important to clarify and define the terms. Terrorism has a vast number of definitions and varies greatly depending on who is trying to define it and from what perspective it is being defined and at which scope. For example one definition of terrorism is the FBI’s definition of it as ‘the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a Government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in further political or social objectives’. Another definition is from the Department of Defense which states it to be as ‘the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological objectives.’ A final example of one of the many definitions of terrorism is that of the Department of homeland Security which states it as ‘any activity that involves an act that is dangerous to human life or potentially destructive of critic infrastructure or key resources; and…must also appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.’ These definitions vary quite greatly from one to another. Any definition of terrorism suits a particular agency and how they look at the act of violence, whereas...
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