The events of September 11 changed the view of terrorism significantly. Terrorism is a form of political violence that aims to achieve its objectives through creating a climate of fear and apprehension (Goodin 2006)
What are some aims of terrorism?
Ignatieff 2004 distinguishes between four different types of terrorism:
- Insurrectionary- aimed at the revolutionary overthrow of a state (anarchist and revolutionary communist terrorism)
- Loner or issue terrorism- aimed at the promotion of a single cause (bombing of abortion clinics in the USA and 1995 sarin nerve gas attack on Tokyo subway)
- Nationalism terrorism- aims to overthrow colonial rule or occupation, often with the goal of gaining independence for an ethnic religious or national group. Examples include FLN in Algeria, the liberation tigers of Tamil eelam
- Global terrorism: aimed at inflicting damage and humiliation on a global power or at transforming global civilisation (al Qaeda and other form of Islamism terrorist groups)
However the concept of new terrorism suggesting that there has been a change on the nature of terrorism predates the 9/11 attacks, interest in it being stimulated by events such as the 95 attack on Tokyo subway and the 97 massacre in Luxor. But what is new terrorism and how new is it?
According to Hoffman 2006: by 1995, almost half of the 56 terrorist groups believed to be religious in character and motivation. Al Qaeda was a certain example of this trend, motivated by broad radical politico religious ideology in the form of Islamism.
How to counter terrorism:
1.)Negotiations/political deals: Basque/ South Africa/ Northern Ireland = successful. Afghanistan=unsuccessful
-definite end to terrorism if the terrorist groups aims are met
-seen as the peaceful option (wont make matters worse) e.g. Good Friday agreement. Prevents further conflict (NI)
-takes too long to negotiate
-encourage others (sets precedent)
-legitimises terrorist organisations.
2.)Military repression: Afghanistan/Chechnya/Peru:Shining Path, Columbia FARC
-can work seen in Checnya, liberal views of being moral
-kill more people and make it worse
-undermines state sovereignty
-human rights jeopardised
-can encourage more attacks e.g Vietnam
3.)Increasing state security: jeopardises human rights e.g through spying
-prevents terrorist attacks
-removal of human rights (civil liberties) USA patriot.
Terrorism tactics and methods
- suicide bombings
- political wing
- destroy infrastructure
Implications of using military tactics to contain terrorism:
- fastest method rather than diplomacy
- leads to a further loss of lives
- may encourage more violence
- leads to watered down resolutions
Does the need to counter terrorism justify restricting human rights and basic human freedoms?
- The weakness of the strong: liberal democratic societies are weak in the sense that such as freedom of movement and legal checks on government power can be exploited. In other words, toleration and legality can become their worst enemy providing advantages for groups that oppose all these things. Effective counter terrorism must deprive terrorists of these advantages
- The lesser evil: curtailing rights is justifiable when the rightness of an action is judged on the basis of whether it provides the good for the greatest number. Ignatieff 2004 argues that this is the lesser evil
- The necessity of dirty hands: the doctrine of dirty hands is based on the belief that public morality is separate from private. It may thus be right for political leaders to do wrong if this serves public morality.
- Counterproductive anti terrorism: in a sense all terrorism seeks to prove an overreaction on the part of government. Terrorism achieves its ends not through violent attacks but through a government’s response.
- Freedom as a fundamental value: for HR supporters: morality is not a question of trade offs and calculations about the greater good. It is about the intrinsic rightness or wrongness of actions. As human rights are absolute fundamental and universal, an actions such as restricting civil liberties is wrong, no matter how inconvenient.
- Moral authority and soft power: terrorism cannot be combated through state security alone: in important ways terrorism Is a hearts and minds issue: if a clear ethical line cannot be drawn, governments lose authority and undermines public support e.g controversial practices associated with GITMO and damaged the USA’s soft power and support behind it’s war on terror.
War on terror: name given to multiple wars and conflicts started by the USA and allies to combat terrorism.
- Cause: 9/11 attack. Failed smart power
- UN: approved
- Early results: Taliban removed from Kabul. Al Qaeda slanted away.
- Continuation: insurgency. Turned humanitarian continued (bin laden killed in 2011)
- Cause: alleged WMD’s. Pre emptive strike.
- UN: opposed/vetoed: coalition of the willing
- Early results: quickly removed from government. No WMD’s found
- Continuation: insurgency, humanitarian. RELATIVELY stable since.