Why Is It Difficult To Study The Causes Of Terrorism

Why Is It Difficult To Analyze The Causes Of Terrorism?

Answering the inquiry of why it is so hard to analyze the causes of terrorist act leads us instantly into the kingdom of analyzing precisely what terrorist act is, how we define it and the deficiency of consensus that exists within the broader context of the international community with respects to international jurisprudence. Thus, before we can get down analyzing the complexnesss inherent in analyzing the causes of terrorist act we must try a definition of terrorist act and high spot precisely where the evidences for confusion exist in order to set up a conceptual model for the balance of the treatment.

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First and foremost we ought to observe that the construct of terrorist act is a entirely subjective phenomenon, connoting one significance to one set of people populating in one geopolitical context while connoting something else wholly to another set of people populating in a different geopolitical context. Although, as Webel right notes, “the term ‘terror’ denotes both a phenomenological experience of paralysing, overpowering and indefinable mental torment, every bit good as a behavioral response to a existent or perceived life?threatening danger” [ 1 ] , we should besides admit that there is no unvarying thought of what this means on a planetary footing. As a consequence, we ought to understand from the beginning how the construct of “one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter” [ 2 ] is an highly utile thought within the confines of this treatment with the ideological chasm that exists between the West and the underdeveloped universe functioning to render objectiveness in many ways obsolete.

It is for this ground that there has been such a discernable deficiency of consensus about how to specify terrorist act within the international community. Obtaining an nonsubjective position about terrorist act is, accordingly, something of a theoretical impossibleness because we can non handle human existences and human reactions as scientifically quantifiable informations to be meticulously examined and digested as fact. As John Horgan observes, “explanations of terrorist act in footings of personality traits are deficient entirely in seeking to understand why some people become terrorists and others do non, or more by and large why people join terrorist groups.” [ 3 ] Thus, we must understand that, because the head variable within any treatment relating to terrorist act is the human being and his or her reaction to a specific set of cultural, societal, economic, military and political phenomena, we can non trust to accomplish any sort of consensus with respects to making a lasting, testable hypothesis refering to why people descend into terrorist act because people are, in the concluding analysis, non “observable phenomena.” [ 4 ] This is an of import point to observe and one that ought to be borne in head throughout the balance of the treatment.

Furthermore, we ought to observe from the beginning that terrorist act is inherently linked to the construct of the province and the duality between province and non-state histrions on a planetary degree. When, for case, we think of the formation of the Irish Republic Army ( IRA ) in Eire or the formation of the Basque separationist group ETA in Spain, we can see how the development of terrorist administrations in these states were inexorably bound to the construct of nationhood, belonging and the province. Likewise when we look at the overplus of terrorist administrations that have formed in the aftermath of the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 we can see the extent to which organized terrorist act is inexorably linked to the construct of the province. Viewed from this position, so, we have to get down our treatment by understanding that terrorist act ( surely modern terrorist act as it has been historically understood in the past two hundred old ages ) is a residue of the birth of the nation-state and a reaction to a perceived set of unfairnesss taking topographic point within the boundary lines of any given nation-state. As a consequence, we should likewise understand that terrorist act has historically been underpinned by the competition between province and non-state histrions.

Consequently, believing entirely in footings of traditional impressions of international dealingss as it appears in many-sided administrations such as the United Nations ( characterised as dealingss between official province histrions ) will make little to assist our understanding foremost of what terrorist act is and secondly the causes behind it. As Richard Devetak notes, “a more comprehensive history of modern-day universe political relations must include an analysis of those cross histrions and motions that operate outside and across province boundaries.” [ 5 ] Terrorism, by definition, is a non-state action undertaken by transversal histrions that move beyond the traditional bounds of international dealingss. Therefore, one time once more, we can see the inherently muddling and confounding conceptual boundaries that have historically posed so many jobs for policy analysts looking at ways of battling such a complex issue.

In add-on, we need to understand that, by association, terrorist act should be understood in footings of an act of political force in response to this historical divide between official province and non-state histrions. Terrorism has ever historically been intertwined with political political orientation and without the being of this political jussive mood, terrorist act would non hold evolved in the manner it has done on a planetary footing. This has surely been true every bit far as radical political political orientation is concerned where the nexus between extremism and terrorist act has been exposed clip and once more throughout modern history. When, for case, we pause to see how the National Socialist Party ( NSDAP ) came to power in Germany in the early 1930s, we can see how political force against a weak, fledgling democracy provided fertile evidences for the rise to power of Hitler and the Nazis [ 6 ] . Furthermore, when we look at the terrorist act, political force and urban anarchy which blighted Italy in the station war old ages giving “more than 15 000 recorded incidents between 1970 and 1990” [ 7 ] , we can see how political and ideological extremism in the pretense of anarchism and socialism was responsible for the dislocation of democratic regulation in one of the most advanced, post-industrial provinces in Europe.

Therefore, we must admit that the apparition of political extremism plays a extremely of import function in turning radical rhetoric the likes of which has appeared in every state and every civilization at some point in history into Acts of the Apostless of political and ideological force that can be characterised in footings of terrorist act. This is as true of the spiritual extremism that is the most outstanding characteristic of modern-day Islamic terrorist act where radical spiritual ardor can be seen to hold been manipulated by politically sharp extremists and militants to make ‘political Islam’ as a vehicle through which to show big graduated table, multinational Acts of the Apostless of utmost political force. For case, in carry oning his pre-9/11 research into the Lebanese terrorist administration Hizzballah, Martin Kramer acknowledged that while the ideal of a “pure calling” to fall in the panic group remained in being, the fact was that Hizzballah was “an progressively, structured, centralised, and accountable administration … governed by a choice advisory council ( the Lebanon Council ) and three regional councils ( for the Biqa Valley, Beirut and the South ) .” [ 8 ]

This, in kernel, is a description of a extremely sophisticated political administration and non a extremist, radical panic group. As a consequence, the much publicised moral and spiritual jussive mood that both spiritual and nationalist panic groups have historically cited as the finding factor that dictates the spiel of terrorist activity within their specific locality has in world been greatly overdone ; instead, it is the political and ideological jussive mood that has historically been the main motivational factor behind the modern-day terrorist’s ardor. Therefore, we can get down to organize a decision as to what terrorist act is, which, in bend, will assist us to analyze the jobs with respects to the causes of terrorist act in the modern-day epoch. Equally far as this is concerned, we ought to mention Bruce Hoffman who concludes that:

“We may therefore now attempt to specify terrorist act as the deliberate creative activity and development of fright through force or the menace of force in the chase of political change.” [ 9 ]

With these conceptual troubles in head we can get down to understand the extent to which understanding the causes behind the descent into terrorist act remains hard to quantify. Not merely do we hold the aforesaid troubles associating to human behavior and the complexnesss of single personality, we besides have the broader political job of trying to turn up a gloss of objectiveness within a cultural clime that defines terrorist act as the most unsafe job confronting universe peace at the morning of the century. By this we mean to state that it is bound to be hard to understand the causes behind terrorist act, surely the sort of multinational terrorist act which has come to prominence at the present clip, when political leaders in the West talk in footings of declaring ‘war’ on terrorist act, which, by definition, is an inherently self-contradictory proposition affecting official province histrions declaring war on non-state histrions that have no association to any remarkable state province setup. Indeed, so vexing a term is ‘war on terror’ that the universe renowned American political analyst Gore Vidal refers to the policy as kindred to declaring a “war on dandruff” [ 10 ] .

Therefore, it is non hard to conceive of why thecausesof terrorist act have for the most portion been brushed aside with political leaders concentrating alternatively on underlining the devastatingeffectsof terrorist act, peculiarly in the wake of the September 11Thursdaypanic atrociousnesss committed against the East Coast of the United States of America. Yet concentrating on the effects of terrorist act at the disbursal of the causes of terrorist act will, finally, make little to relieve the job. Possibly it is exactly because analyzing the causes of terrorist act at the morning of the 20 first century can non assist but take us into the societal, economic and cultural effects of the turning divide between the world’s rich and the world’s hapless that policy shapers in the western hemisphere prefer to concentrate entirely on the effects of terrorist act and the incumbent war against it which they intend to go on to contend. When, for illustration, we pause to analyze the strictly economic effects of the western-led policy of globalization, we can see how the physical spread of free market capitalist economy to every corner of the planet has created fertile evidences for the cultivation of extremism and hatred the likes of which panic organisations the universe over provender upon.

“A turning divide between the rich persons and the poor person has left increasing Numberss in the Third World in dire poorness, populating on less than a dollar a twenty-four hours. Despite perennial promises of poorness decrease made over the last decennary of the 20th century, the existent figure of people populating in poorness has really increased by about one hundred million. This occurred at the same clip that entire universe income really increased by an norm of 2.5 per cent annually.” [ 11 ]

Although the states of Western Europe and North America have historically dominated the flow of trade throughout the universe, states in the Third World have traditionally been able to maintain their societies contained from the rampant spread of western manner democratization and free market capitalist economy. However, with the coming and subsequent victory of new media engineerings that are able to transport the turning economic divide between the rich persons and the have-nots across the universe, in add-on to the realization that – surely every bit far as energy is concerned – the West has become rich on the dorsum of Middle Eastern and, progressively, African oil, the sense of discontent within the development universe has needfully increased, further fuelling the fires of extremism in some of these parts of the universe, representing the ideological starting point for modern-day ‘modern terrorism’ [ 12 ] . Although we should non understand poorness as comparing to extremism, we should in no manner underestimate the extent to which the Third World has been decimated by the victory of globalization. It is, in the concluding analysis, no happenstance that the focal point of the 9/11 panic onslaughts were the World Trade Centre: the symbolic hub of American and Western economic imperialism.

Yet even when we scratch beneath the frontage of western rhetoric to understand the impact of poorness upon extremism in the underdeveloped universe, we still meet jobs with respects to get marrieding this economic jussive mood to apparently independent phenomena such as spiritual, nationalist or political political orientation. It is, for case, really hard to accommodate economic motivations with the suicide terrorist act deployed to such annihilating consequence by Al Qaeda where the terrorists are willing to give up their lives in chase of the broader organizational end. The being of these “remote control martyrs” [ 13 ] airss serious conceptual and logistical jobs for analysts trying to understand the causes of terrorist act exactly because these single pes soldiers have no wish to see any political alteration come about. Therefore, the terrorist act itself becomes the exclusive agencies of their being – a disturbing development that defies account by traditional analytical agencies.

Much the same can be said of the crisp rise in the deployment of female terrorists, particularly in the Middle East where adult females have been used by panic administrations such as Al Qaeda in order to perpetuate the battle against America and its western Alliess. The rise of the female terrorist ( which has many case in points in history, particularly in the former Soviet Union where the Bolsheviks made a point of giving adult females combatants outstanding functions in covert military operations ) serves to oppugn the traditional impression of terrorist act being a extremist, radical patriarchal phenomenon and, as Margaret Gonzalez-Perez declares, “the debut of new struggles and histrions … is certain to play some portion in the causes and effects of terrorism.” [ 14 ]

Therefore, we should, finally, note that the major obstruction to achieving a balanced, nonsubjective position of what terrorist act is and what causes people to fall in terrorist administrations is located in the invariably switching building of universe political relations and, in peculiar, in the confusion originating from the station Cold War universe order. We should, in add-on, note that the effort by western authoritiess to declare a ‘war on terror’ has farther muddled the already complex boundary lines that divide province and non-state histrions to the extent that the term no longer retains any sense of significance when used within western, media-dominated political discourse. Until these disagreements have been addressed, we should anticipate western policy shapers to go on to concentrate on the effects of terrorist act over above its true societal, economic and political root causes.


Devetak, Richard, 2001,Postmodernism, quoted in, Burchill, Steve ( Ed. ) ,Theories of International Relations: Second Edition,London, Palgrave Macmillan

Gonzalez-Perez, Maria, 2008,Womans and Terrorism: Female Activity in Domestic and International Terror Groups, London and New York, Routledge

Hoffman, Bruce, 1998,Inside Terrorism, London, Weidenfeld & A ; Nicolson

Horgan, John, 2005,The Psychology of Terrorism, London and New York, Routledge

Kramer, Martin, 1998,The Moral Logic of Hizzballah, in, Reich, Walter ( Ed. ) ,Beginnings of Terrorism: Psychologies, Political orientations, Theologies, States of Mind,Washington, DC, Woodrow Wilson Centre

Lutz, James, M. and Lutz, Brenda, J. , 2004,Global Terrorism,London and New York, Routledge

Martin, Clarence, Augustus, 2006,Understanding Terrorism: Challenges, Positions and Issues: Second Edition, London, Sage

Merari, Ariel,The Readiness to Kill and Die: Self-destructive Terrorism in theMiddle East, Reich, Walter ( Ed. ) ,Beginnings of Terrorism: Psychologies, Political orientations, Theologies, States of Mind,Washington, DC, Woodrow Wilson Centre

Snipes, Jeffrey, B. , Bernard, Thomas, J. and Vold, George, B. , 2002,Theoretical Criminology, Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press

Stiglitz, Joseph, 2003,Globalization and its Discontentments, London, Penguin

Vidal, Gore, 2004,ImperialAmerica: Contemplations on theUnited Statesof Amnesia, Forest Row, Clairview

Webel, Charles, P. , 2004,Panic, Terrorism and the Human Condition,London, Palgrave Macmillan

Whittaker, David, 2002,Terrorism: Understanding the Global Threat,London, Longman

Wilkinson, Paul, 2006,Terrorism versus Democracy: TheBroadStateResponse, London and New York, Routledge


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