Unit 4D Terrorism

TERRORISM

 

  • Definition of Terrorism: The War of the weak  – Crenshaw 1983

 

      • Deliberate act of violence against civilian populations
      • Often unpredictable and random

 

  • ‘Soft’ targets

 

    • Carried out for political purposes by a state or non state actor (this is to factor in ‘state terrorism’ and ‘state sponsored’ terrorism)
    • State terrorism: Assad using Chemical Weapons / Barrel Bombs against own population; Yemeni government bombing Houthi rebels http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-29319423;
    • State Sponsored Terrorism– the arming and funding of terrorist groups by a third party state; e.g.
      • The Reagan administration funding the Contras in Nicaragua in the 1980s; or
      • Gadaffi funding and arming the IRA;
      • providing a safe haven for terrorists groups; Taliban and the Al-Qaeda terrorist training camps.
    • Aim is to spread a climate of fear and apprehension. – Terror effect Phillips 2010 – the purpose of terrorist activity is to spread terror.

 

  • Terrorism is not a recent phenomenon
  • Political struggles for liberation have been branded as terrorist causes (Palestine, South Africa)
  • The ANC struggle against apartheid was designated a terrorist cause
  • The PLO have long campaigned, sometimes violently, for a Palestinian State
  • There have been many territorial based claims for self determination which have resulted in terrorism

 

    • Spread and significance of international/global terrorism nature of terrorism 9/11 as a turning point?
    • Types of terrorism Ignatieff (2004)
      • Insurrectionary terrorism; Arab Spring; FLN in Algeria (also nationalist anti-colonialist struggle; also Iraq and Afghanistan; ANC in South Africa)

 

  • Loner or issue terrorism (sometimes called lone wolf attacks – Aum Shinrikyo – Sarin Gas attack on Tokyo subway in 1995; Boston Marathon attacks 2013)
  • Nationalist terrorism – IRA in Northern Ireland and UK Mainland; ETA in Spain
  • Global or ‘new’ terrorism  – Catastrophic Terrorism – Carter 1998; Umbrella/Franchise terror – Wilkinson 2003;

 

  • Nature of Islamist terrorism
    • Ideological goals to ‘purify’ Muslim world and civilizational conflict with the West, especially the USA
    • Tactics and methods – suicide attacks, coordinated attacks, audacious strategies
    • Umbrella networks and loose organisational structure – franchise terrorism (Wilkinson 2003 again)
    • Significance of international/global terrorism – impossible to protect against, acquisition of WMD,
    • Exaggerated fears, limited public support
  • Countering terrorism
    • Use of military tactics to contain/destroy terrorism (successes, failures and implications of the ‘war on terror’  – war – mixed record of success
    • State security and domestic repression – Legislation – e.g. the Patriot Act, (2001) The Anti Terrorism Crime and Security Act, (2001) The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000)
    • Extra judicial methods – eg torture and extraordinary rendition & Drone attacks
    • Extent to which countering terrorism is compatible with protecting human rights  – proper balance between public order and civil liberty/human rights
    • Propaganda – hearts and minds
    • Technological surveillance and intelligence
  • Realist view – suspending human rights as the ‘lesser evil’
    • Emphasis on the state/ non-state dichotomy (point of distinction).
    • Terrorism is viewed as a violent challenge to the established order by a non-state group or movement. Peter Taylor BBC Age of Terror – terrorism threat is real
    • The State’s response to terrorism should  be uncompromising. Combating terrorist may not necessarily lead to civil liberties, AND IT MAYBE NECESSARY TO CURTAIL FREEDOMS TEMPORARILY OR PERMANENTLY. Designate terrorists as Unlawful Enemy Combatants to deny them Geneva Convention Rights; Indefinite detention; Waterboarding; Extraordinary rendition – all necessary measures.
    • Views terrorism as a realm of power-seeking, therefore, competition occurs. Sometimes refers to the problem of ‘dirty hands’ (Walzer, 2007)
    • Main feature is to attempt to subvert civil order and overthrow the political system.

 

  • Liberalism
  • Like realists, view terrorism being mainly conducted by non-state actors. Unlike realists, liberals tend to emphasize the role of Ideology rather than simply power seeking.
  • Liberal thinking tends to be dominated by the ethical dilemmas that are posed by the task of counter-terrorism.
  • Terrorism is unacceptable because it attacks liberal democracy.
  • Supports  attempts to counter terrorism as long as they are consistent with the same values (such as should not infringe human rights and civil liberties).
  • Importance of moral high ground and ‘soft’ power, etc
  • Political deals to end terror –
  • Good Friday Peace Agreement in Northern Ireland
  • Afghan government negotiations with the Taliban.

 

  • Critical – Radical Theorists: (such as Chomsky and Falk).
    • Terrorism amounts to the killing of civilians, engaged by both state and non-state actors.
    • State terrorism is more significant than non-state terrorism. Mainly because states have greater coercive capacity.
    • States use violence against civilians to maintain power or extend influence to other states.

Adam Curtis – terrorism threat is overstated, designed to justify more forms of government control over domestic populations e.g. Investigatory Powers Act 2016.

    • Edward Snowden – scale of surveillance and storage of bulk communications data is global TEMPORA AND PRISM PROGRAMS
    • Chomsky- U.S.A. viewed as the world’s leading terrorist state.

 

  • Pre 9/11
  • Nationalist based terror organisations, and therefore largely a domestic concern IRA/INLA, (Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and the UK Mainland and ETA (Spain)
  • Ideological – RAF – Baader-Meinhoff 1970s Brigate Rosse (Italy) Some Minor International Dimension – PLO Black September (9 Israeli athletes were killed during the Olympics in Munich in 1972)
  • Post 9/11
  • Terrorism became 1st order issue -Transformational Quality – ICONIC – Catastrophic terrorism (Carter, 1998)
  • Launched War on Terror – “Global” Effort – G.W. Bush 2001 –  “The war on terror begins in Afghanistan but it does not end there…”
  • Changed the means by which terror is combatted; Restrictive Domestic legislation (Patriot Act, ATCSA); Use of torture + Extraordinary Rendition
  • Foreign Policy based on doctrine of pre-emption (Iraq), Legitimises regime change (Iraq/Afghanistan/Libya)
  • Extension of extra judicial tactics through technology (Drone attacks Derian, 2001)
  • Enduring nature –  a war that probably cannot be “won”
  • Change in Terrorist tactics (kidnapping, car bombs, IEDs, infiltration)
  • Legitimises mass surveillance – Snowden revelations NSA/GCHQ

 

Past Paper Questions 15 Marks

In what ways did 9/11 redefine the nature of terrorism?

Explain why the term terrorism is contested and controversial.

Essay Questions (45 Marks)

To what extent is countering terrorism compatible with upholding human rights?

To what extent is global terrorism a major threat to order and security?

 

  • Terrorism refers to the use of terror for furthering political ends; it seeks to create a climate of fear, apprehension and uncertainty.
  • Global terrorism is terrorism that has a global reach, particularly as demonstrated by the 9/11 attacks on the USA.
  • The significance of global terrorism as a threat to order and security has been the subject of considerable debate.
  • Candidates identified a number of arguments to support the view that global terrorism is a major threat to order and security.
  • It was argued that the 9/11 attacks demonstrated how the world’s most powerful state, can be vulnerable to terror attack when it is, arguably, no longer vulnerable to conventional attacks by rival states.
  • There is the additional fear that terrorist networks may be able to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction, and perhaps even nuclear weapons.
  • Candidates argued that global terrorism requires few resources and that increased global flows of people, ideas and information also make global terrorism particularly difficult to contain or prevent.
  • The ‘war on terror’ provides a battle against a transnational ideology that has spread to various parts of the Middle East, North Africa and central Asia.
  • The counter argument was based on the fact that although 3,000 people died in the 9/11 attacks, this is very small by comparison with the scale of death that has occurred as a result of conventional warfare
  • Terrorism, by its nature, consists of a series of sporadic attacks on a variety of targets, and is very different from the concerted, sustained and systematic destruction that is wreaked by mass warfare conducted between states.
  • Terrorism, in itself, cannot overthrow a government, unlike revolution and inter-state war and that terrorism ‘works’ only when there is a military over-reaction to it. A range of arguments and counter arguments was expected from L3 candidates.

 

‘Terrorism is the major threat to global security.’ Discuss.

  • The significance of global terrorism as a threat to order and security has been the subject of considerable debate. Those who see it in this light advance a number of arguments, including the following:
  • The 9/11 attacks underline the threat of global terrorism because it demonstrates how the world’s most powerful state, in military as well as economic terms, can be vulnerable to external attack when it is no longer vulnerable to conventional attacks by rival states.
  • These threats are all the greater because of the possibility that terrorist networks may be able to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction, and perhaps even nuclear weapons.
  • The threat of global terrorism is so great because it requires few resources and can be carried out by small groups or even lone individuals.
  • Increased global flows of peoples, ideas and information also make global terrorism particularly difficult to contain or prevent.
  • The USA’s ‘war on terror’ was an appropriate response to the advent of global terrorism, since it recognised that such terrorism has its roots in a transnational ideology that has spread to various parts of the Middle East, North Africa and central Asia.
  • However, some argue that the threat of global terrorism has been much overstated. This has been for a variety of reasons, including the following:
  • Although 3,000 people died in the 9/11 attacks, this is very small by comparison with the scale of death that has occurred as a result of conventional warfare.
  • Terrorism, by its nature, consists of a series of sporadic attacks on a variety of targets, and is very different from the concerted, sustained and systematic destruction that is wreaked by mass warfare conducted between states.
  • Terrorism, in itself, cannot overthrow a government, unlike revolution and interstate war.
  • Terrorism ‘works’ only when there is a military overreaction to it that ends up being counterproductive in terms of strengthening support for militant or extremist groups.

 

 

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