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Terrorism - My best essay on the topic

Uploaded by nemesis_irf on Jun 07, 2002

1. What is terrorism?


Terrorism is hard to define. In its broadest sense terrorism can be thought of as the use or threatened use of force against civilians designed to bring about political or social change. Moreover, while we think of terrorism as being both a political and irrational act (especially suicide terrorism), terrorism can also be thought of as a rational act conducted specifically because of the impact -- fear, confusion, submission -- it will have.

Given the U.S. government's pledge to wage a war against terrorism, it is important to look at its definitions. According to both the Department of Defense (DOD) and the FBI, terrorism is "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 furtherance of political or social objectives." The DOD definition adds that a goal of terrorism can be "inculcating fear" (thus the psychological dimension), while the State Department is more elaborate, specifying that terrorism may include the use of biological, chemical or nuclear devices as well as the act of "assassination."

The latter would suggest that assassinating bin Laden would be a terrorist act by our definition of the word; the former that allied forces in the fire bombings of cities in Dresden, and specifically the U.S., through its use of nuclear weapons to end World War II and of chemical weapons in Vietnam, has already engaged in terrorist activities, although the moral calculus and justification for these actions varies widely and in comparison with the terrorism of the enemies, such as Nazi Germany.

This is the grand conundrum of defining terrorism; it is very difficult to separate it from acts of war, just or unjust. We all have heard the saying, "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." And indeed, Osama bin Laden and his comrades were hailed as freedom fighters in the 1980s by the American government at a time when politicians like Dick Cheney considered Nelson Mandela a terrorist.

Further, the UN definition of terrorism states that "all war crimes will be considered acts of terrorism," in which case most every government in the world (especially the major military powers, Pakistan, Israel, the major Muslim states, most Latin American governments) has committed terrorism, though few have ever faced justice or even opprobrium for doing so.

2. What is the history of terrorism?


The first recorded...

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Uploaded by:   nemesis_irf

Date:   06/07/2002

Category:   Social Issues

Length:   19 pages (4,225 words)

Views:   11952

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