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An attempted definition of Terrorism

Reader comment on item: The Limits of Terrorism
in response to reader comment: Dev could you

Submitted by Andy (United Kingdom), Oct 25, 2009 at 02:38

'Terrorism is the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion' However it is much more complicated. Terrorism is an act of war, that bit is easy.Terrorism, while an act of war, has no military objective. This is why the majority of terrorist attacks are aimed at civilians. In some cases an act of Terrorism can result in a military disaster. But why can the act of Kidnapping and killing a Solider to exchange for prisoners be seen as an act of Terrorism while the bombing of a wedding not. Ok, Hezbollah's armed strength is no match for the IDF's, so when it attacked a Israeli military base, killing and capturing Israeli soldiers it was not hoping to achieve any sort of military victory, in fact as the war went on it was Lebanon which came of worse, but this in turn proved a political victory for Hezbollah, the then main political objective came to light, the dead soldiers for alive prisoners swap (i guess Hezbollah must of though they hit the jackpot when they realised they didn't even have to keep their hostages alive).

So why is a US bomb falling on wedding party not an act of terrorism. Well it's down to military objective, the US military had one, to kill enemy combatants, and even though they probably failed to achieve it there objective (and there objective clearly wasn't to kill civilians), it turned out to be a political disaster. What many people fail to understand is that if military personal is using the civilian population to render himself (a military objective) immune to attack they are in violation of the Geneva Convention. Even 9/11 clearly fits this pattern, the attack had no military objective and turned into a military disaster as it brought the USA/UK into an alliance with the 'United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan' (commonly known as the Northern Alliance) which lead to the Taliban losing the war

Politically though it had some successful (although not on it original Politically objectives), it help unite many Islamic terrorist organisations into one and the western left which there 'America is evil so anyone that is against America is good' ideology became there willing supporters. Terrorists and there supporters often try to portray themselves as freedom fighters, and there actions are a legitimate for of resistance. I'm not sure where blowing up a girls schools or Samir Kuntar killing of 4 year old Einat Haran constitutes legitimate resistance. So.. Terrorists - Attacks have no military objective, therefore attacks often carried out on civilians. Primary reason for attack is political, through fear. Freedom Fighters - Attacks have a military objective and the political objective is achieved through this.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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