Free «Terrorism Studies» Essay Sample

Discuss the Main Problems in Defining Terrorism

There is no academic or a global legal agreement concerning the definition of terrorism. A variety of government agencies and legal systems use diverse definitions of terrorism. Furthermore, the international society has been sluggish to devise a generally agreed upon, lawfully fastening definition of terrorism. These complexities occur from the fact that terrorism is emotionally and politically charged.

The complexity in assigning a really comprehensive description to terrorism lies in the fact that, not only is it difficult to be define when targets, motives and methods vary so widely from case-to-case, but the difficulty of unraveling the overlaps within each one of these types makes the job almost unfeasible. Certainly, trying to talk about all pieces incorporated in the definition of terrorism is too broad (White, 2002, p.151).

In evaluating the dissimilarities between definitions, it seems that major difference lies within the explanation of terrorist incentives. This discrepancy guarantees study and yet the significance of focusing on the complexity of defining the incentives of terrorists is more important in its insinuations (Martin, 2006, p.163). It is essential to be inclusive in the categorization of incentives because the targets and methods selected by terrorists are frequently reflected by their intention.

Even though, for the sake of succinctness, the diminution of the changeable incentives under the political umbrella-term could be beneficial, permitting such a broad outset serves to make sure that the definition is helpful not as a tool in counterterrorism but as a guideline strategy. In other words, the use of a definition based on political motivation is extremely limited.

When taking into account the obscurity of defining terrorism in relation to motivation, it is essential to scrutinize available definitions. Definitions appear to be dividable into two groups; those that present politically-motivated, as an explanation of terrorist inspirations, and those that try greater specificity.

Varieties of definitions have tried to recognize this dilemma by addressing the conflicting motivations of terrorists. The complicity of defining terrorism, lies mainly the incentives of terrorists, becomes obvious in the difference experienced among definitions.

Definitions discover their use in appliance. The description of terrorism is essential as a means of combating the terrorist menace, and serving as guidance in the trials of suspected terrorists. Comprehending and eventually solving the complexities encountered by those evaluating the motivations of diverse terrorist groups, permits for a more meticulous application of the explanation of terrorism (Fussey, 2007, p.46). Counteracting terrorism means envisaging the techniques used by the groups and the probable targets; a meticulous understanding and explanation of incentives would serve this purpose much better.

The complexity in dealing with a case comes in choosing which of the aspects reflects the right inspiration of the group, and whether asking the question is worthwhile in the first place. Can it be claimed that philosophy, as the factor that creates group cohesiveness, is the vital motivation? If this conclusion is accepted, then people present themselves once again with the predicament of using the umbrella-term. Every terrorist group may be believed to come jointly in the name of a philosophy, whether it is political, ethnic, religious or single-issue. One would be missing the point to entirely avoid ideology. The comprehending of the group’s ideology is central to comprehending their objectives and predicting their behavior (Hoffman, 2006, p.57).

The United States Army Command proposes that terror campaign may be aggravated by religious, political or ideological intents. These categories of inspiration are reciprocated with the United Kingdom Terrorism Act (2000), as well as the description provided by the US Division of Defense. The UN Resolution 1566 (2004) was varied in its definition, signifying that terrorism is justified on philosophical, political, ideological, ethnic, racial and religious grounds. Some studies concluded in one of the broadest definitions, often used by other academics, proposes that terrorist inspirations are criminal, idiosyncratic or political.

Are terrorists sane? Discuss with reference to relevant literature.

Terrorists are not insane or absurd actors. Signs of psychopathology are not widespread among terrorists. Suicide terrorists do not possess the typical danger factors of suicide. There are no universal personality profiles that characterize the majority of terrorists, who appear to be comparatively normal individuals. Terrorists might follow their individual rationalities based on radical ideologies or terrorist senses, but they are not illogical (Silke, 2003, p.21).

The idea of terrorism is practical to a great assortment of groups with diverse goals and origins. Terrorism takes place in poor countries as well as in wealthy countries, in authoritarian states as well as in democracies. Therefore, there exists no solitary root source of terrorism, or a universal set of causes. However, there are a number of precipitants and preconditions for the emergence of diverse forms of terrorism.

Psychiatric specialist Rasch (1979), who interrogated several West German terrorists, found that there in no definite evidence has been established for the supposition that a considerable number of them are abnormal or disturbed. According to Rasch, the belief that terror campaign is pathological conduct only serves to reduce the social or political issues that provoked the terrorists into actions.

Even though there might have been cases in which a psychologically ill person led terrorists, this has not been the case in terms of international terrorism. A number of experts point out that there is modest reliable proof to support the idea that terrorists generally are psychologically troubled individuals. The cautious, well-timed execution and detailed planning that have portrayed many terrorist actions are hardly distinctive of mentally disturbed persons.

Taylor (1988) determined that the idea of mental infirmity has modest utility with respect to the majority of terrorist’s actions. He indicates several dissimilarities that distinguish the political terrorist from psychopath, even though the two might not be equally exclusive. One distinction is the psychopath's incapability to benefit from experience. The other significant distinction is that, the purpose of a psychopath's deeds is personal. Furthermore, psychopaths are too untrustworthy and incompetent of being restricted to be of applied to terrorist groups. 

In outlining the terrorist, a number of generalizations may be made on the foundation of literature on the sociology and psychology of terrorism available over the last three decades. One discovery is that there does not emerge to be a lone terrorist character. This appears to be an agreement amid terrorism psychologists together with and sociologists and political scientists. The traits of terrorists can be as diverse as the traits of individuals in any legal profession. It does not appear to be some visibly noticeable personalities that would help the authorities to recognize a terrorist (Griset & Mahan, 2003, p.78).

Contrary to the notion that the terrorists are mentally or psychopath disturbed, the terrorists are actually sane, although duped by a religious or ideological way of perceiving the world. The only prominent exceptions stumbled upon in the studies were the German revolutionary terrorists, like the Baader-Meinh of Gang together with their affiliated groups. These German terrorists appear to be an exceptional case because of their incapability to come to terms emotionally and psychologically with the disgrace of having parents, who were either active or passive supporters of Hitler.

The extremely selective terrorist enrollment process clarifies why the majority of terrorist groups have a few pathological affiliates. Candidates who display signs of mental illness or psychopath are removed in the concern of group survival.  Almost all terrorist groups require members who will not provoke suspicion and whose conduct seems normal. A member who shows any perceptible degree of psychological illness or traits of psychopath would only be a problem to the group. That person could not be relied on to carry out the mission assigned. Such a person would be more probable to incapacitate the group, for example, by revealing the secrets of the group if captured, or by disrupting an operation.

Can suicide terrorism be defeated? Answer with reference to historical examples.

In today’s world, suicide terrorism started with an attack by Hezbollah against the U.S. marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983. Based on a study about more than 400 suicide terrorists since 1980 to 2003 by Robert Pape and his acquaintances from the University of Chicago, entitled Dying to Win, the Tactical Logic of Suicide Terrorism, is know now that all of the explanations are mistaken.

Firstly, the position of religion as an inspiration to suicide terrorism is overstated. 58 percent of suicide assaults around the globe during the time studied were carried out by seculars. For example, in Lebanon, thirty of the thirty-eight identified suicide terrorists were allied with groups contrasting to Islamic fundamentalism.  In addition, very few of the suicide assailants, who were religious, were enthused to fighting by their spiritual beliefs.

There are two kinds of suicide terrorist attacks: on- the-battlefield widely used by LTTE in Sri Lanka, and the off-the-battlefield. Protective arrests decrease suicide terrorist bombings, whereas targeted killings merely increase the activities of terrorists. Augmented protective procedures and the disclosure of the potential suicide terrorist before he has a chance to perform the attack at the intended target may lessen the quantity of damage caused by the suicide attacker and possibly prevent the attack.

Based on the findings in several studies, researchers issued recommendations on how the United States can overcome suicide terrorism. The principal one is that the United States needs to remove its troops from the majority Muslim countries and give up hope to transform them. The U.S. should work with Saudi Arabia, Iraq and other Persian Gulf nations to ensure that they uphold the vital infrastructure for a quick return of United States forces should that be necessary and it should develop the friendliest probable relations with Iran.

Major Findings in some of the researches indicate that, it might be impossible to stop suicide bombers. The solution to end the suicide terror campaigns is to stop the rise of a new cohort of suicide attackers, by addressing the main causes of terrorism. Nations which are favorable to the spread of suicide bombing are those described by infringement of human rights, national, ethnic and religious prejudice, socio-economic marginalization, political exclusion, and lack of good supremacy. The method to counteract suicide terrorism is defeat-clear- hold-build.

The strategies can be adopted to discover and fix the suicide terrorists before they could commence the attack and to extort the initiative of operation. This could help to defeat the suicide terrorist menace to some extent. As the preferred strategy by the majority of terrorist groups, it is significant to comprehend the logic behind the tactic to establish an effective scheme that can be employed by counter-terrorism representatives. This is meant to help in reducing and ultimately defeating suicide terrorism.

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It is a fundamental requirement to first understand that the key causes of suicide killings are entrenched in their accomplishment at spreading fear and nervousness among the population, and their aptitude to effectively pressurize political concession from states. Due to its achievement rate, it is essential to recognize that the tactic of suicide attacks is a logical conclusion, which results from a cost-benefit organization of the terrorist activity.

Does Military Retaliation Help or Hinder Efforts to Combat Terrorism?

The use of military force to fight terrorism is one of numerous tools.  It has both advantages and disadvantages.  In rescent years, it has come to be connected with several counterterrorism options.  The military counterterrorism has constantly had a defining attribute of the “gloves are off,” and to be certain, it is a hard line alternative designed to achieve nothing less than the eradication of terrorism predicament as possible. The capturing of terrorist leaders and attack of terrorist training sites are examples of military fight against terrorism, and the exercise of force almost signals the figurative strength of a country that uses force.  The counterterrorism of the military has the chief advantage of maintaining the terrorists off balance.  It typically succeeds at destabilizing or disrupting an enemy.  The main disadvantages are that, in current world, there is a shortage of good military aims, and such operations frequently require a long-term obligation.

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The motivations why a country combats against terrorism with military force are numerous, but a basic conception is the idea of taking the battle to the opponent, a forward defense tactic. To be certain, there is abundance of unrealistic motives to go at war.  A number of countries will engage since they would like to flex their power; some may think they have perfected culture and wish to share it with the world; while some may think they are merely doing what is right to fight the evil of terrorism; and others may think the only feasible alternative is to make life as hard as possible for the terrorist groups. (Silke, 2004, p.65).

Many countries are easily aroused by threats or dangers, sometimes financial threats, sometimes ideological intimidation, but mostly, military terrorization, and unless the attackers are merely engaging in low-level criminal offenses, they will give plenty of troubles which can be interpreted as military intimidation. The Military counterterrorism is actually a hazardous game.  It might involve serious tampering in the dealings of a foreign nation, and occasionally, such overseas involvement does amazing things; at some point, it goes terribly wrong.  Some military tactics work well for an instant; few work fine for long time. There is the trouble of domestic and international assistance for the military actions (Martin, 2006, p.164).  A widespread military counterterrorism attempt requires a knowledgeable public equally educated and interested on domestic and foreign affairs.  Public should be well-informed, however not misinformed.  Public edification must produce and provide specialists and experts on both domestic and foreign policy.  No state has any exceptional knowledge in tampering with the home affairs of another state, but well-educated and well-supported civilian-military machinery can go a long way (Whittaker, 2003, p.103). 

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Result measurement is complex for any strategy.  Success could only be computable in symbolic terms.  For instance, it might make a regime feel fine to drop bombs on the territory of an enemy or believe that funds are being drawn off away from the terrorist followers.  This is identified as the catharsis effect of counter-terrorism, and that there is a number of experts who dispute that, it is the best gauge of success.  It is also likely, as anti-hawk supports that more blameless people endure this way.  Bombs might go awry, resulting in collateral damage, and financial authorizes just as frequently miss their aim, causing a wicked regime to endure.  The appropriate and proper targeting of property and persons on the battleground is one of the most contentious areas of military actions in warfare on fright and the rules of war.  Some claim that all military alternatives only produce deterioration in regions.  And others argue that they achieve a lot, and at the least, some kind of repression in the short-term and avoidance in the long-run (Silke, 2004, p.43).


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