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What is terrorism?

  1. Nov 20, 2003 #1
    Webster: terrorism: the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion

    But http://en2.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrorism gives a overview. Quite interesting. Some extracts:

    1. Although the exact meaning of the term is disputed, it is commonly held that the distinctive nature of terrorism lies in its deliberate and specific selection of civilians as targets, a choice designed to attract wide publicity and cause extreme levels of public shock, outrage and fear. Terrorists believe these conditions will help to bring about the political or religious changes that they seek.

    2. In the current post-9-11 context, many contend that the word terrorist is overly politicized; they argue that it is used not a reference to a behaviour, but rather as a label to demonize an enemy in terms that convey moral repulsion and outrage. This process of demonization of an enemy is normal in wartime and serves to solidify public opinion:George W. Bush of the USA, for example, routinely describes "the terrorists" as being "evil" and "without conscience".

    What's your idea?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 20, 2003 #2

    selfAdjoint

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    I think that terrorism - in the sense of political violence specifically directed against random civilians - is evil wherever it is found, and I think that politicians that condone terrorism are scum. That include Sinn Fein and the PLO. Any justice that their causes may have, pales in the filthy glare of their atrocities.
     
  4. Nov 20, 2003 #3
    I agree, of course. Killing a human is never justified. For a terrorist organization a random human life has no value, but a death body has value.

    The word 'evil' has although also a religious connotation, in the sense of devilish. It is often used by politicians in the double sense (ie. US -> Iran -> US) to include God into the debate/message, as if God is on their side.

    Maybe we can analyze this: Is hitting 'random civilians" the prime motive?
    Maybe in cases like a bus-blast - killing as much innocent lives as possible - the real political target is:
    1. Sending the message to be able to hit wherever and when they want
    2. Destabilize the local society and the economic process
    3. Create 'existential' fear in the population
    4. Create 'confidence' to the own group
    5. Destroy peaceful solutions
    6. Feed hate

    I think there are not too much.
    Looking for 'reasons' why terrorism started is different from condone.
    I think understanding logically the 'motives' why people become a terrorist is solving basically the problem, because then you can try to handle that structurally. When you can reduce or take away the motives - and you offer a solution for his problem - he wont destroy himself anymore.
    So that's also part of a war against terror.
     
  5. Nov 20, 2003 #4

    russ_watters

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    Its not an easy word to define, but the definitions you posted are pretty good. And I agree that its overused.
     
  6. Nov 21, 2003 #5

    drag

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    Greetings !

    A terrorist is a person who murders civilians on purpose,
    a person who is not part of a recognized military
    force of a country, and a person who hides among
    the civilian population and uses it as human shields.

    I do not see why is the term in any way overused.
    Terrorists world-wide are responsible for phousands
    of deaths since the last millenium even not considering
    the amount of casualties of 9/11.

    Muslim fundumentalists are responisble for a lot over 90%
    of the terrorist actions and casualties on the globe.

    The many people who support these actions in various ways
    and partcipate in cheerful rallies when they see many
    casualties in yet another attack are abviously pschologicly
    sick and should receive serious phsycological help and education.

    The world is grey, pelastration, but the edges are a clear
    black & white. War is bad, but justice is a necessaty.

    Peace and long life.
     
  7. Nov 21, 2003 #6
    I agree pretty much so far, but want to clarify something: when pelastration used the word 'killing' in the second sentence of his second post, he is technically not correct. Murdering a human is causing unjust death to a human. Killing is causing a just death to a human, like killing in self-defense. Many do not see this subtle difference, using them interchangably, and I bring it up whenever relevant. (Notice: the Bible actually says 'Thou shalt not Murder'.)

    http://www.m-w.com (Merriam-Webster) says:
    Kill:
    (intransitive)
    1. to deprive one of life

    Murder:
    (noun)
    1. the crime of unlawfully killing a person esp. with malice aforethought
    (verb)
    1. to kill (a human being) unlawfully and with premeditated malice
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2003
  8. Nov 21, 2003 #7

    drag

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    Greetings !

    BTW, the bible also says (I don't remember the exact words):
    "That who rizes to kill you, rize to kill him first."

    I'm an atheist though.

    Live long and prosper.
     
  9. Nov 21, 2003 #8

    Njorl

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    I think people are a bit quick to judge terrorism. I know it is not popular these days, but I believe there have been times when it was justified.

    First case, before the independence of The Republic of Ireland:
    The English defeated the Irish in war and siezed their land. They inflicted oppressive policies upon them. Open rebllion and civil war was crushed. Guerrilla war was crushed. English economic policies led to widespread starvation of hundreds of thousands. The only alternatives left to the Irish were to submit to near extinction, or terrorism. Terror directed against the occupiers was ineffective. Irish agents then struck various English targets around the world - diplomatic and business officials. The loss of these people was not deemed worth the continued occupation of Ireland. While the English made a show of giving into lobbying and legislative efforts, it was terrorism that freed Southern Ireland from repression.

    By 1970 the world had essentially decided to turn a blind eye to Israeli occupation of the west bank. There were UN resolutions, and symbolic protests, but settlement of Palestinian lands by Israelis was moving at an unimpeded rate. The world essentially wanted the Palestinians to accept their fate and disappear. The Palestinians were no match for the Israelis milatarily. Even with many allies, they failed at open war. Their efforts at guerilla war were dismal and hopeless. Even terrorism targetted upon the Israelis was ineffective. The Palestinians then turned to international terrorism - attacking the Vienna and Athens airports, hijacking planes and the attack on the 1972 Olympic games. The world paid attention, and pressured Israel. Settlements actually became an issue and slowed down. Without terrorism, it is inconceivable that Israel would bother negotiating with the Palestinians at all.

    I agree that terrorism is awful, but can you ask an oppressed people to refrain from using the only possible means of providing for their continued existance? The problem is, terrorism has been demonstrated to be very successful. Now, those who do not need to use it, use it anyway, because it is easier and more effective than other means. Al Qaeda does not need to use terrorism to gain its objectives. Even if they did, none of their objectives warrants the use of terror. The Palestinians no longer need to use terrorism to gain what they want. In fact, the use of terror makes their goals more difficult to attain.

    Njorl
     
  10. Nov 21, 2003 #9

    drag

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    I'm not sure what you mean. What do you think
    their objectives are then ?
    As far as I know it is to turn the whole world
    into one big Muslim nation. I do not see how
    they could gain this objective without the use
    of force.
    Am I missing something about them ?

    Live long and prosper.
     
  11. Nov 21, 2003 #10
    Drag, you've made plenty of anti-semitic comments on these boards before. It comes as no surprise that you claim all of the thousands of deaths due to terrorism come from muslims. You make no mention of who many thousands of muslim civilians who were murdered in Kosovo in the name of ethnic cleansing. Or of the thousands of civilans murdered in Iraq by US forces, people that were patently falsely accused of terrorism, because they were muslim, but hat absolutely nothing to do with terrorism. I am further not the least bit surprised by your ridiculous allegation that muslims want to take over the world.
     
  12. Nov 21, 2003 #11

    drag

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    Greetings !
    I would be happy to hear you quote me saying anything
    unjustified and racial so that I could correct myself.
    I believe in democracy and personal freedom as it is
    defined today, as the best currently known ways for human
    societies to exist. One thing these societies do not accept
    is people who want to kill other people, though they ussualy
    won't act against them unless they're activly persuing their
    goals. Thus if you've mistaken something I said for racism you
    should realize that it is not - it is a discription of the
    existing situation and it is relevant because these views are
    not acceptable and abnormal, even in a democratic society.

    I do not hate other people, I do not want to kill other people
    or for them to be killed. I do hate their ideas - because these
    ideas include murder and thus unacceptable - and that's why
    I support changes in this situation which will change
    these ideas to acceptable ones - no matter how contrary
    to my opinion they may be - but acceptable and thus relevant.
    And if someone actually tries to kill me(and they certainly
    had a few times), you can rest assured I'll defend myself.
    Muslim fundumentalists are the majority of the terrorists
    on the globe today. What's wrong about that ?
    These are acts of genocide by an army not a terrorist
    organization. Which is by the way even worse, in my opinion,
    and is a war crime that must be prevented.
    I think you should watch your posts too, just to be fair
    to yourself. :wink:
    I'd love my quote on that. Thanks ahead. :wink:

    Peace and long life.
     
  13. Nov 21, 2003 #12
    "As far as I know it is to turn the whole world
    into one big Muslim nation."

    As for your other antisemitic comments, they're lttered about these boards. The one that comes to mind is, paraphrasing, how muslims around the world should be hunted down and exterminated.
     
  14. Nov 21, 2003 #13

    Njorl

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    Al Qaeda's nominal motive in attacking the US was to force US troops out of Saudi Arabia. I imagine that there are quite a few members of AQ that would not be satisfied with that, and others who hate America, and still others who are sadistic and would enjoy killing just about anybody. But without that central goal, they would not be nearly as unified.

    The broadest interpretation of Al Qaeda's goals that I have heard is the elimination of western influence from all Muslim nations. I have never heard anyone reputable claim they were trying to take over the world. I don't think even that more limited goal is mandated by those they claim to represent and I certainly don't think terrorism is a reasonable way to pursue that goal.

    Njorl
     
  15. Nov 21, 2003 #14
    Good analysis Njorl. Appreciate you look for 'motives' that explain why such violent re-actions can happen.
     
  16. Nov 21, 2003 #15

    drag

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    Whoah... Saying Al-Qaeda (of which I was talking, as
    is clearly mentioned in the quote to which I responded)
    means all Muslims - now that's racism man.

    Keep'em coming, my racist comments that is...

    Live long and prosper.
     
  17. Nov 21, 2003 #16
    Correct.
    The basic religious idea is that western culture is decadent (porn, alcohol, drugs, material values, imperialistic, ...). Mix that with the 'occupation' of the 'holy country and Mekka' extremist motives can inflate when put in a easy to understand marketing package. On AQ: these are 'educated' mid-classers.
     
  18. Nov 21, 2003 #17

    drag

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    Well, I can't say I carefully listened to that crap.
    But, I believe it was something about "striking the
    decadent west with the sword of Allah" and stuff.
    And the same crap during the other major attacks
    before and after 9/11.
     
  19. Nov 21, 2003 #18

    russ_watters

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    Have you read ANYTHING that Bin Laden has said? That is among other things, one of his stated goals. Its a little confusing though - it seems he can't decide whether he wants to convert everyone on earth to Islam or just kill everyone who isn't Muslim. He's said both.

    Further, it remains the stated goal of those in charge of the "Palestinians" to do the same on a smaller scale: they mostly just want to exterminate all the Jews in Israel.

    And if you want to argue that thats only a few extremists, feel free: but when the insane run the asylum, it gets hard to tell the difference. The terrorists are the ones in charge. And quite frankly, that means it doesn't matter what everyone else thinks. If they won't stand up and overthrow their leaders, they are complicit.
    Interesting you should bring that up. Who fixed that situation by the way? (Hint: starts with a "U" and ends with an "S"). So clearly the vision you espouse of a racist america doesn't fit. We fight on behalf of the oppressed - whoever they are.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2003
  20. Nov 22, 2003 #19
    Their stated goal, and I remember this quite explicitly because I have heard them say it themselves many times, is to eventually convert by force all the world, and those who don't submit are murdered. Keep in mind that we let them get away with a lot before they attacked us, because we are not the worlds watchdog. You see what that got us? If people like Zero would shut up, we could bypass the wishy-washy UN who won't enforce their own rules and could have captured and tried these terrorists long ago. The most efficient method to reduce causalties is a preemptive strike.
    There has been so much activity here that I'm a little lost..um..I think chemicaletc. said that American troops have murdered thousanda of innocent Iraqis. That is rediculus, I have not heard of a single causalty to a civilian on purpose. In fact it wasn't rare that they didn't even kill soldiers, so why would they kill civilians? BTW, they didn't kill some soldiers because those soldiers surrendered or were captured.
    So far I think that drag is guilty of sloppy use of language that is so easy to interpret many ways that most of this disscussion is irrevelant. It also has nothing to do with the topic.
     
  21. Nov 22, 2003 #20
    Do you understand what this means on street level? Kill all because we have all indications that they might do this or that ... !
    So when someone in your street would (just) 'think' that you are a comm or a lunatic, a dirty Neverlander or whatever ... he gives himself the right to 'eliminate' you! ... to prevent you to do 'bad' things!

    Is that the world to live in ...?
     
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