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Terrorism - Essay Example

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Summary
Over the years, the definition of the term still remains elusive with American agencies dealing with terrorism, academicians and experts holding varied meanings (Carr 47). The phenomenon of terrorism is…
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Terrorism Definition In the modern political vocabulary, terrorism has been an important word. Over the years, the definition of the term still remains elusive with American agencies dealing with terrorism, academicians and experts holding varied meanings (Carr 47). The phenomenon of terrorism is not new with the Sixth Framework Programme observing that “it is as old as the hills” (7). Indeed, terrorism seems to be an intensely contested political concept. To come up with a useful definition of terrorism, Shimko (298) gives various components that are basic to the phenomenon. The first component is use of violence or involvement of threat. Albeit the modern world has recorded the emergence of cyberterrorism where information and communication systems would be employed, physical violence remains a definitive feature of terrorism. Secondly, the violence should be quest for social or political objective. Finally, terrorism would not be aimed at any particular individual since the aim would be to cause psychological harm beyond the immediate objects or victims of the attack. This randomness aims at creating fear. Thus, a useful definition would outline terrorism as random use of violence or threats by an organized group in pursuance of political or social objectives. Examples of groupings that have met these features and thus considered as terrorists include Al-Qaeda, the Irish Republican Army, IRA and Aum Shinrikyo.
Major causes of terrorism
There are various reasons that would cause a group to launch a terrorist attack. Political motivations have been reported over years. The traditional Irish Republican Army gives an appropriate example of a terrorist group with modest political objectives which fought what it considered as outside domination. Theirs involved small scale bomb attacks resulting into dozens of casualties to attract the attention of the world but not to a large extent alienate members of their community. Internationally, the dominance of few nations having massive political, economic and military power encourages acts of terrorism. Giving an example of Al-Qaeda, Shimko (299) argues on social and political goals motivated by specific forms of religious fundamentalism as probable causes of terrorism. The surges in terrorists that are religiously motivated have been on the increase since 1991. By 1995, they comprised more than half the recognized active international terrorist groups.
Response to terrorist threats
The magnitude of the September 11 US terrorist attacks makes it unique. Considering it as war would limit action against perpetrators to military action thus the adoption of terrorism specific responses (Shimko 302). In case of an attack, an international tribunal operating under international law that would have the powers to seek out, arrest or extradite and try the culprits should be constituted. This could adopt the model of the tribunal constituted to deal with the former Yugoslavia war human rights violations. But to have a long term solution, the root causes of terrorism should be addressed. Because of the intertwining between economic and political forces in the modern world, it would be effective to handle both issues simultaneously. Governments should encourage democracy and respect for human rights. Carr (50) argues on the need for citizens to align their relationships and conduct businesses with security taking top priority before profits and credible hegemony.
Conclusion
Despite the elusive definition of terrorism, it has been largely appreciated as having distinctive features that identify it: use of violence or threat, pursuance of political or social objectives and randomness in attacks. It could be traced to political, economic and social motivators though religiously motivated factors have emerged in the recent past. These factors should be addressed so as to curb terrorism. In case of occurrence of such attacks, international tribunals guided by international laws should be constituted to try the culprits.
Works Cited
Carr, Caleb. ““Terrorism”: Why the Definition Must be Broad.” World Policy Journal. (2007). 47 – 50.
Shimko, K. L. International Relations: Perspectives and Controversies. 3rd ed. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010.
Sixth Framework Programme. Defining Terrorism. 2008, October 1. Web. 30 October, 2012. Read More
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