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International Terrorism


International Terrorism What is it and how do we fight it? What exactly is TERRORISM? There aren t many terms that are more emotionally laden in our current ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: International Terrorism

International Terrorism
  • What is it and how do we fight it?

What exactly is TERRORISM?
  • There arent many terms that are more emotionally
    laden in our current political environment than
  • Nations and groups want to define terrorism so
    they can exclude their own actions, but include
    those of their opponents
  • Gray areas exist, but so do some clear black and
    white areas that few, if any, would question

  • Involves the threat or use of violence
  • involves violence that must be carried out in the
    furtherance of some broader political or social
    objective (ex mugger, not terrorist)
  • Is specifically designed to have far-reaching
    psychological effects beyond the immediate
    victims. The randomness creates more fear.

Possible definitions
  • The launching of reckless or indiscriminate
    attacks on civilians in order to communicate a
    message to a third party, who will invariably be
    the real enemy.
  • Usually this is conducted by a subnational group
    or non-state entity(but this is controversial).

Terrorism or Terrorisms?
  • We cant generalize about terrorism
  • There are differences in terrorist groups and
    understanding these is essential for developing
    appropriate policy responses.
  • Ex Irish Republican Army (IRA), AL-Qaeda,
    Hezbollah, Aum Shinrikyo all are terrorist
    groups, but very different

IRA (Irish Republican Army)
  • Traditional terrorist group
  • Movement with fairly modest political objectives
    fighting against outside domination (get Brits
    out of Northern Ireland)
  • Tactics were traditional, small-scale bombings
  • nationalist/separatist group

Al Qaeda The Base
  • More expansive political social goals deeply
    infused with Islamic fundamentalism.
  • Tactics and scale are on a totally different
    levelthe scale of the 911 attack is what made it
  • More groups will likely use greater levels of
    violence and unconventional methods
  • Now there are more religious terrorist groups,
    1980 most were ethnic or nationalist, by 1995
    over half were religious in nature

Different approaches to terrorism
  • These different frameworks for understanding
    terrorism imply different strategies of reaction
    as well.
  • Cosmopolitan response views 9/11 as crimes
    against humanity
  • Realist/Statist Response views 9/11 as an
    attack on the United States as a state and its

Different frameworks
  • Statist/Realist Response Terrorist attacks are
    acts of war and the most effective strategy for
    combating terrorism requires putting pressure on
    those states that actively support or passively
    tolerate terrorist organizations.
  • Cosmopolitan/Liberal response Terrorist attack
    are criminal acts requiring an international,
    multilateral response within the context of
    international law and organizations. Long term
    strategy involves addressing root causes of
    terrorismpoverty, inequality, and discontent.

If we view 9/11 as acts of war
  • Then we respond with the War on Terror
  • But this is not a traditional war, not an armed
    conflict fought by military means between states,
    with a definite ending, etc. There will never be
    a signing of unconditional surrender in the war
    on terror.
  • The War on Terror is also not purely metaphorical
    , Al Qaeda and other groups are capable of
    inflicting damage like states in war

Law enforcement, not military model
  • 911 are crimes, not acts of warSee example of
    Oklahoma City bombing
  • Terrorists are international criminal

International Legal Response
  • The US should have sought the establishment of an
    international tribunal with the authority to seek
    extradition or arrest and prosecution of
  • Refrain from unilateral or precipitous military
    action, US should hav created a unified
    international coalition with strong Islamic
  • Tribunal would be similar to the one dealing with
    former Yugoslavia.
  • Intl legal and law enforcement institutions
    arent as strong or well-developed as some
    domestic ones, but threat of terrorism justifies
    strengthening them and it is necessary because
    transnational terrorism demands more intl
  • International legal responsesbandaid after the

The root of the problem
  • Try to understand root causes of terrorism so you
    can ameliorate or eliminate these issues
  • Islamic fundamentalism..long history of Western,
    especially US support for repressive and
    authoritarian regimes in the Arab world within
    the context of a long history of Western
    hostility to Islam that dates back to crusades
  • US support for Israel, Israeli treatment of the
    Palestinians, stationing of US troops in Saudi
    Arabia and now occupying Iraq.

Root causes
  • Response to poverty and global economic
  • When people cant solve their own problems, they
    strike out irrationally, seeking foreign
    scapegoats, or collapsing into civil war over
    limited resources. This can in turn lead to a
    failed state, where terrorism might flourish.
  • Feed the hands that bite us
  • No justice, no peace. If justice, then peace.

Addressing root causes
  • US should work on...providing basic health care,
    support family planning, deal with environmental
    issues like deforestation b/c overpopulation,
    poverty and political dislocation are common
    backdrops to development of terrorism, especially
    as globalization widens disparities in wealth and

Addressing root causes
  • More to justice than alleviation of poverty
  • More than poverty fuels terrorism... that
    profound sense of exclusion and domination at the
    domestic and international levels
  • Domestically Absence of democracy and lack of
    respect for human rights foster resentment
    without possibility of nonviolent dissent...need
    some level of democratization in the Middle East
  • Internationally dominance of a small handful of
    nations (esp the US) with tremendous economic,
    political and military power who wield it
    assymetrically with only a passing glance at
  • Reform the international and domestic
    institutions that perpetuate inequities and

Statist / Realist Rsponse
  • Obviously terrorism is a crime, but it is not
    ONLY a crime, it is an act of war
  • It may be a new concept of war, but it is one
    that build on and extends the classic concept,
    require a aggressive diplomatic posture.
  • Krauthammerhalf-measures are for wars of
    choice, like Vietnam, where losing is an option.
    You lose and you still surviv as a nation. The
    war on terrorism is different, losing is not an
    option, it is fatal. This is no time for
    restraint, but rather righteous might.

Realist Strategy
  • Deemphasize legal and intl organizational
    elements of antiterrorism policy, ocassionally
    useful (tracking flow of financial resources to
    terrorist organizations)
  • Argue that with domestic terrorism, domestic
    agencies can combat terrorism legally and through
    law enforcement
  • But international level, the parallel agencies
    and institutions arent advanced enough to fight
    terrorism. Not effective.

Ineffectiveness of Intl Legal Response
  • After 1972 massacre by PLO of Israeli athletes at
    the olympics in Munich, UN tried to coordinate a
    set of policies to deal with international
  • UN couldnt even agree of a definition of
    terrorism....especally since the actions of
    national liberation movements were often seen in
    the developing world as legitimate responses to
    oppression and domination (only option for the
    weak in the face of power).

International Response is problematic.
  • Convention Against the Taking of Hostages (1979),
    but only 97 signatories and of couse, states are
    free to withdraw.
  • Interpol works to an extent, but most national
    law enforcement bodies have more intelligence and
    often wont share
  • Hard to create effective international response
    in a world of sovereign states

Realist response to root causes argument
  • Dont really know what root causes are...idea
    that poverty or inequality cause terrorism is a
    faith statement not based on compelling evidence,
    look at the terrorrist themselves...not about
    poverty, about politics of radical islam. Ex 911
    hijackers, Osama, Hezbollah, etc.

Realist response to root causes argument
  • Even if cause is poverty and inequality, these
    arent going away any time soon, regardless of
    what we do. Threat of terrorism is NOW, in the
    present, requires a response.
  • Terrorism is a manifestation of fundamental
    conflicts of interests and values (Ex
    Huntingtons Clash of Civilizations).
  • Root causes people are using this arg as a
    utopian evasion of the hard task at hand

Realist Response
  • Intractable conflict
  • Not very optimistic
  • Responses to terrorism must be crafted within the
    limitations of the existing state system.
  • Terrorists may not be states, but terrorists,
    terrorist training facilities, and terrorist
    financial resources are all located within the
    borders of states...war against states that
    support terrorism (but what about failing
  • Last choice is regime change, replace the states
    that do support terrorism with those who dont

Realist Response
  • admit we will never eliminate all terrorism
  • Deal with terrorist orgs as threats to the
    national interest, must be defeated or deterred
  • States are still critical players on the global
    level, even when it comes to controlling the
    actions of nonstate actors (ex. Terrorist orgs).

Intl terrorism is complicated
  • The menu for policy options in fighting terrorism
    is loaded with short-term/long-term tradeoffs
  • Ex Democracy in the middle East as longterm
    strategy, in short term need support of
    nondemocratic regimes
  • All good things do not always come together.
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