Terrorism is a deliberate and intentional attempt to create a psychological effect on the target groups of people. This is done so as to achieve certain objectives, which may be revolutionary by influencing behavior and attitudes. It manifests itself in acts of violence, by extraordinary and intolerable individuals. It has a pattern of symbolism and representation in the selection of victims or objects, and it is used to seize political power from a state or government that is incumbent (Perdue, 1989). Terrorism victimizes innocent people and creates fear. In a utopian sense, terrorism is created by official institutions and permeates in the daily lives of the population. This could be the case especially when police, for example, use excessive force against the population; this is due to circumstances like dealing with drug dealers. In the dominant view, terrorism is the work of outsiders, who are enemies of civilization. Terrorism is, therefore, viewed as a weapon of confronting politics, and a challenge posed to the state (Perdue, 1989). It is public violence that is not controlled by the government.
Terrorism is an act that is done by an organized group; it is premeditated and is done for the achievement of political motives. Because it is not mainstream in its ideology, it is not rational as it targets the masses, alters the status quo, and aims at weakening the state through causing civilian deaths and loss of property. The rationale of terrorism is to maximize the benefits accrued. The tactics used by the military are the same; this is because of the element of premeditation, and the element of unpredictability. The only difference is that the military, other than protecting a country against enemies, does not have political motives. Those involved in crimes, for example, drug lords and pirates, apply the same tactics except that their ideology is not political. Their only motive is to get rich, with the use of extreme methods that sometimes hurt innocent people and even lead to death. Different branches of security define terrorism differently; the FBI defines terrorism as the use of force unlawfully against people or property in order to intimidate or coerce government, civilians or people for the purpose of political or social objectives, by groups that are sub-national. For terrorism, there must be an element of rousing fear and dehumanization; this is the element, which terrorists use to weaken the state and validate the magnitude of their actions.
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Terrorism may occur for various reasons and to certain powerful nations. This is because the groups that are powerless may result to using guerilla methods of war so that they can compensate for their disadvantage in military forces. The methods they employ in war are then described as uncivilized by the powerful nations. Terrorism occurs in powerful states due to differences in power on the international stage. The powerful nations are economically powerful in the international order; as a result, they may advance to protect the security order. The modern states do this through launching missile in the name of freedom, or starting war in the name of anti-terrorism; terrorism, in turn, hurts the populations that are poor in their masses. Parties that conflict and do not have equal standings may have a double standard of terrorism. Influences in the office ensure that modern states have sophisticated media internationally, which creates an idea of common values, stereotypes and symbols of what constitutes terrorism. Because of such an influence, terrorism may be attributed to the ideological, ethnical and religious forces; obscuring the reality that can be found in institutional terror (Perdue, 1989).
A state is a sovereign entity that is separated by geographical boundaries, and that is ruled by a king, queen or president, depending on the type of the state. There are several types of states such as monarchs and governments. Monarchs are ruled by either a king or queen as is the case in England and Swaziland, while governments are ruled by presidents, which is the case in most nations globally. The formation of the state began with European countries, and it is a process that keeps evolving as better forms of democracy are acquired. The state is influenced by various factors, which include: economic factors, internal and external relations, and geographical and political processes. A state, therefore, has to focus on issues that are within its boundaries and those that are out, if it is to run efficiently.
The state has evolved in the 1400s, when the leaders’ main concern was to create armies. The use of mercenaries was popular for coercion, and capitalists used to supply loans to the state through the taxes they collected. In around 1500, there was the discovery in the use of gunpowder, which translated into war being expensive. This saw the end of the investment on swords and shield and led to the need for new investments, which could defend against gunpowder. Mercenary armies that had been formed were well trained, although there was a problem when they were not paid, they were expensive, and they had no real royalty. This posed a problem for the rulers because they could not trust mercenaries to provide protection to their land and the subjects, as well. In the years 1700-1850, mercenaries became less common as states begun forming their own national armies. This led to the state building a tool for administration and collecting taxes to pay the army. This is because they were cheaper as compared to the mercenaries, and they fought harder.
After 1850, there were well established states with an economy, which collected taxes and was able to run the state. The military was separated from the government and there was a clear distinction given between the police and the military. States were then able to accumulate wealth, where some areas became wealthier than others; which saw wealth being centralized in specific areas like cities, according to Tilly’s argument. He further stated that when the force is accumulated the state becomes stronger; when it is concentrated in the state it increases its strength in relation to other states. Wealth accumulation also led to urbanization and concentration of wealth in cities, which further encouraged urbanization through accumulation and concentration of capital. Therefore, this accumulation of means of coercion, both wealth and force, is what led to the growth of states. The wealth accumulated and concentrated in the cities is what makes it easy to tax and to borrow and thus provide the capital that is necessary for the military campaigns.
Therefore, the states were built because they could fight and fight well. Those that could not fight well, especially after the invention of gunpowder, built tax and financial bases that were effective. The need for survival, thus, saw states build governments that could fight. However, basic liberties allowed the state to evolve over time, which may include rights of women in voting, discussion of radical ideas, which are translated into policies, as stated by Tilly. These are considered as democracy which allows for ideas, once thought of as radical, to become policies. Failed states are characterized by the crisis on their economies, natural disasters that are beyond what the state can handle, inequalities in social rights, restriction of basic freedoms, corruption by politicians, degradation of the environment, poverty, violence, lack of government control, civil wars, genocide and massacres. Civil wars lead to other problems as it affects the economy, prevents the investment by foreign countries or firms; besides they lead to internal displacement of people, poverty and destruction of infrastructure; all of which hinder growth. Failed states also have demographic pressures, have reduced or no human capital as they are characterized by movement of refugees and displacements. The economies are uneven, where you find that some people are extremely rich and others are extremely poor.
Relationship between Terrorism and the State
Terrorism poses a major threat to the development and sustainability of the modern state. This is because terrorists attack particular states so that they can instill fear in them. This is so that they can obtain some political gains. For the long time, there have been threats made against states and many of them lead to the death of innocent people. It creates insecurity in a state and makes it inevitable to reconsider security in a country. It is a form of coercion induced in a government through fear and acts of war (Perdue, 1989). Among the greatest acts of terror against governments were those that were committed against the USA. The attacks occurred in overseas countries, and their main target was military and diplomats. These included the bombings that were done to US troops in Saudi Arabia in 1995 and 1996, the Kenya and Tanzania bombings of the US embassies in 1998, Yemen bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 and the 9/11 bombing of the twin towers in the US. All these attacks have led to the death of many people in the particular target countries and in America.
There are numerous questions as to why terrorists target and attack particular countries like the US. However, it should be understood that terrorism is not the emergence of yesterday; it has been in existence from the 1980s. The difference is that, there were approximately 300 threats during the period of 1980-2003, 10% of which were targeted at America. Presently, there have been over 2100 terrorist attacks, 91% of which have been against America. September 11th attacks were, however, the largest attacks, and they were greater than anything that had been experienced prior because they targeted multiple states at the same time, and as the result they led to the death of more than 3000 people and became part of national consciousness (Pillar, 2004). There were the manifestations of patterns that had manifested themselves for more than a decade, however, the 9/11 attack was viewed as a new phenomenon to many, because of its impact and enormity. It was, however, known who took part in that act of terrorism and why they did it. The attack was believed to have been committed by Sunni Muslims, who are radicals, and as far as the US is concerned, it posed the greatest threat to its interest. They had emerged years earlier, as mentioned above and were motivated by religious terrorism. The group, referred to as al Qaida was led by Osama Bin Laden and was considered a top threat against security prior to the attack (Pillar, 2004).
Terrorism affects the modern state in that it creates the need for national security and need to re-organize security to cater for the new developments. While the military is used for protecting a country against other states, it becomes imperative that it plays a part in national security. This means that, instead of having it to defend a country from outsiders, it does both; it prevents a country within the country. This is because, police keep order and peace in a country or a community. The police, therefore, are legitimate and are considered to protect the interests of the citizens. The police, when it comes to terrorism, do not have the ability or apparatus to deal with them. This leads to the involvement of other bodies of security within a country, which are able to deal with big issues like the military or units like the FBI. Again, the reason why citizens listen to the police is because they are guided by certain rules, which legitimize police. The military, on the other hand, use force; they have the power of the gun which helps them bring order. If you do not listen to a military officer, you will most likely be killed. For the police to be able to deal with terrorism, it would mean that they focus more on the use of force and do away with legitimacy. Since the 9/11 attacks, it meant centralization of police which would cost them legitimacy. They operate under rules that keep the welfare of the residents at heart, and result to force, which is the work of the military. The existence of modern security because of terrorism had led to reshaping of the military so as to provide security to the country; this is according to Tilly.
States have to be in the constant process of managing issues of terrorism for ensuring their survival. The state is also put in a position where it evaluates, re-evaluates, interprets and re-interprets what constitutes terrorism because of the need for a continued discourse of fighting against terrorism. It therefore becomes an object for the state production. The state is therefore forced to use the ideology of discourse so as to entangle the meanings of terrorism both explicitly and implicitly in order to sustain domination and relationships (Campos, 2007). The dominant discourse, therefore, considers the state a holder of supreme power, which considers terrorism as a threat. It threatens the state, the citizens within the state, foundations of global capital in economics and threatens the morality and legitimacy of the state as an entity. It can be seen as threatening the development of a state because terrorism leads to the input of a lot of capital on the military for the purpose of protection. It also hinders economic growth because partner states will not want to invest in a country that is constantly threatened by terrorist acts. The moral aspect of articulating terrorism allows for it to be accepted by citizens as a threat to the state, its authenticity and ideals. However, it dents the reputation of a state externally; this is because when a country is fighting what it refers to as terrorists, other countries may view such as a fight against a particular country or group of people (Campos, 2007).
Role of Terrorism in Modern States
Terrorism is reshaping the modern states in the perception that is a creation in people’s minds. It creates doubt among people and enemies among countries. This is because, after the US 9/11 attack, the majority of Muslim people who lived in the US were considered anti-American. According to Pillar (2001), the attack made people believe that the Islamic fundamentalists’ motive was to kill Americans. This narrative, according to the author, is the reality in the mind of many Americans, although it is not true; the conclusion made by most people is that Americans are hated because of “who they are and what they do” as clearly put by George W. Bush is his first speech after the 9/11 attacks. His narrative talked about “them” against “us” and a belief that Muslim as a religion stood for violence, which is not true. To put it in other words, terrorism creates a mindset preceded by paranoia where a country would justify actions that are sometimes damaging to the state, just to overcome the threat of terrorism. It also puts the citizens not at ease or in peace because of the creation of enemies within and out the country. It leads to labeling of certain citizens, who may also be at risk of terrorism, because they might be considered part of the terrorist groups, as it was the case in America after the 9/11 attack. It also created a rhetorical advantage for the administration to sustain the war in Iraq as a war against terrorism (Pillar, 2004). While it is indeed a move to transform the Muslim countries into a western form of government (Pillar, 2001).
Different states, before they can combat terror, need to define what it is. Basically, they follow a relationship whereby acts of violence create fear, this fear is manipulated, and it creates notions of terror. A construction of terror is generated from the violence, and terror goes against the ideals of the state in question. A policy for national security was employed by the U.S after the 9/11 attack that left thousands dead. National security has been in use for over three decades, and it is legitimated by an environment that is suitable and that justifies the need for protection against terrorism. The use of national security as an instrument of war by a state considers terrorism as evil acts that are done by persons who have deteriorated morals and thus are unable to participate meaningfully or productively in global and civilized environments (Campos, 2007). This policy was focused more on the war on terror. This policy deployed the military in the countries that were believed to harbor terrorists; in this case, Iraq and Afghanistan. The counterterrorism was used to track down al-Qaida and Taliban forces, involved in the attacks against the U.S.
The main goal of this war policy was to transform the Arab countries into Western democracies. For this reason, constitutions were put in place, elections were held, economies were restructured and armies built. There was an urgent need for domestic security, which would involve maintenance of estimated 150,000 U.S troops as well as troops in the coalition in Iraq for a long time. It meant that this number of troops would be increased from 2003 onwards. This would have profound economic implications of the war as huge funds would go into maintaining the troops in Afghanistan. It also created a situation where Afghanistan and Iraq would be occupied by U.S troops for a long time . This was in the hope that, counter attacking the terrorist groups in particular countries, terrorism could finally be defeated (Pillar, 2001).
The policy of counterterrorism, however, was not effective, as it was expected, because of the military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. According to research, conducted at the University of Chicago, 95% of suicide attacks are in response to occupation of foreigners. 2200 suicide attacks, examined across the world from 1980 to present, suggest that they are on the rise. This is evident in the fact that there were around 300 suicide attacks in 1980-2003 and 1800 - in 2004-2009. Out of all these attacks, over 90% were targeted at the USA. The research also suggests that 90% of attackers in Afghanistan are from there (Pillar, 2001). This case of U.S military occupation can be related to that one of Israel in Lebanon and Gaza. When the troops were withdrawn from Lebanon in 2000, there have not been any suicide attacks by Lebanese. The case is the same in the Gaza Strip where suicide attacks by Palestinians have gone down by over 90% (Pillar, 2001).
The available research on why there are still attacks, despite military occupation, claims that it is due to the social distance that exists between the occupation of foreigners and terrorists. This is due to differences in the religion that is dominant and that of the foreigners. It is a form of resistance to the occupation by foreigners in a country. The attacks are usually based on religion in that they can justify the actions of terrorist leaders who may claim that occupiers threaten secular and religious beliefs of the local community. This was seen in the remarks made by Bin Laden on claims that the U.S occupiers were crusaders, motivated by an agenda to convert Muslims to Christians, changing the local people’s lives and stealing their resources. Another reason, according to Pillar’s (2001) article, is that since there was rebellion prior to the occupation, suicide remains a last resort. This is the tactic used by actors who are weak when all the other methods to resist occupation have failed (Perdue, 1989).
According to Campos (2007), governments opted to use a method of punishment that employed mechanisms and grievance procedures for the nongovernmental group, who were against violations of their human rights. The states were trying to understand the environmental causes which push humanity to employ violence and terror. He adds that raising arms against terrorist groups does not put an end to terror; it only provides people with the temporary relief. Terrorism is used by groups for political expression against the absence of law and order. The changes, which reflect the absence of law in the society, tend to terrorize and marginalize the developing nations who are in pursuit of a political, international and global economy.
It is important for governments to empower local communities rather than to occupy their lands because this reduces the number of suicide attacks. It is also vital for the state to try to understand it.
The reasons behind why there are terror attacks explain how to deal with terrorism. Understanding the root causes of terrorism is what will stop terrorism. As seen in the paper, it is a reaction, and the final step that is taken by groups after all their efforts have failed. It is also an instrument that is employed by the powerless so that they can express themselves politically due to lack of other means to do so. This is because they do not have sufficient power in their military to go against the powerful states. From the research collected, counterterrorism is doing more harm than good. Despite the fact that many leaders of the al-Qaida and other terrorist groups were killed, it does not essentially imply that it is the end of terrorism. It means that the group is regrouping itself, or it is looking for other means to express itself. It is therefore imperative that instead of fighting it, the governments try to understand it. This is the key factor in determining whether the policy will fail or succeed in the war against terrorism.
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