Term Paper: Terrorism Different Topics, 3 Pages Each)

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Terrorism (4 Different Topics, 3 Pages Each)

Describe the major trends in terrorism in recent years.

Fundamentalism in general has been on the rise in recent years, for example, between the mid-1960s and the mid-1990s, the number of fundamentalist movements of all religious affiliations tripled worldwide. At the same time, as observed by Bruce Hoffman, there has been a virtual explosion of identifiable religious terrorist groups from zero in 1968 to today's level, where almost 25% of all terrorist groups active throughout the world are predominantly motivated by religious concerns.

Although the ethno-nationalist/separatist and ideological fundamentalists continue to reflect the most basic understanding of the term in the United States, in recent years "terrorism" has been used to denote broader, less distinct phenomena. "In the early 1980s, for example, terrorism came to be regarded as a calculated means to destabilize the West as part of a vast global conspiracy." While the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 stand out as the most prominent example of terrorism in recent years, these attacks merely represent a continuation of a major trend that began in the last two decades of the 20th century. However, the resulting wars against terrorism, drug trafficking, and money laundering have opened the world's money conduits to increased scrutiny; these initiatives have also opened up the operations of nongovernmental organizations that operate primarily as charitable and social-service agencies, but are linked to terrorism as well.

The recent trends in terrorism show that the reach of such organizations are now global in two ways:

1) Individuals are able to travel widely ("The same easing of border controls -- especially notable in Europe -- that has been a convenience to businessmen and tourists has also made it easier for terrorists to reach tempting targets and willing collaborators"); and 2) Terrorists have extended their reach worldwide by establishing globe-circling infrastructures (for example, Lebanese Hizballah, whose presence now reaches six continents, has led the way).

Despite these trends, other terrorist organizations are also at work with their own diverse agendas such as the Palestinian group Hamas or the Sri Lankan Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which maintain cells far from the countries where their goals and grievances are actually focused. These terrorist infrastructures have extended the geographic options for attacks such as with Hizballah's bombings of Israeli-associated targets in Buenos Aires in the early 1990s; however, they more frequently advance recruitment, fund-raising, movement of materiel, and other support functions. The overseas cells grow up most frequently near sympathetic expatriate communities (such as the Shia Lebanese in the border region of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay (the focus of Hizballah's activity in South America); in addition, they also settle elsewhere in the Western world simply to take advantage of superior civil liberties, social services, transportation, and better communications.

It is these innovations in communications and information technology in particular that seem to have facilitated the spread of terrorist operations around the world just as they have normal commerce. In fact, satellite phones are now standard equipment for most leaders of terrorist organizations, who can remain otherwise inaccessible in a place such as Afghanistan while influencing events thousands of miles away. Terrorists also employ the Internet for long-distance operational direction, with some larger groups using it for propaganda and proselytization as well.

The use of the Internet by terrorist organizations has resulted in two primary concerns:

1) the Internet could provide information on biological, chemical, or other unconventional agents that could be put to terrorist use; and 2) Terrorists could use it to disable electronic infrastructures.

According to Pillar, both of these are legitimate concerns, although probably neither threat is as great as is commonly feared. "Terrorists no doubt have found useful information on weapons on the Internet, but little they could not have picked up elsewhere. And the few international cyber- terrorism attacks so far have been crude and of little consequence." Terrorists are just people too, and most of them, including the various leaders, continue to use information technology for mostly routine everyday tasks of organizing and communicating, rather than collaborating on their methods of attack. However, this is not to say that they cannot or will not use such telecommunications to coordinate global attacks, or use the Internet's vulnerabilities to damage Western business interests through computer viruses or otherwise. Likewise, threats of so-called dirty bombs that use radioactive materials but are not fissionable have sprung up in recent years, particularly in the wake of the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the almost nonexistent security that is provided such radioactive materials there today. Terrorists organizations have used these techniques and others that may not yet be identified (or at least divulged to the American public) in recent years to further their goals, much to the consternation of the powers who be who remain uncertain how to meet these threats.

2. Assess the issue surrounding the use of psychological vs. strategic or rational choice to analyzing terrorist movements.

The results of the recent presidential election clearly demonstrate that a strategic or rational choice may not be possible in the scary atmosphere that exists in America today. From a Western perspective, it may be impossible to accurately discern what motivates a 16-year-old suicide bomber to destroy him- (or her-) self, but the fact remains that terrorists are cutting peoples heads off and are threatening to do it even more in the future and beheadings scare the bejabbers out of Americans.

Contributing to the nervous setting is a Homeland Security Agency that has assumed an incredible amount of power, and that employs a color code scheme that no one except the terrorists themselves seems to understand. Further, prime time news reports continue to fill American living rooms with pictures of soldiers fighting for their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan against an invisible enemy that can fade into the civilian populace at will. Is there a strategic or rational choice to be had in this environment?

One distinct feature of an increasingly globalized society is that disaster can occur at the global level, so the world is now in this process where either the West grasps the moral and political implications of this increasingly shared fate with other people or "very bad things will happen." According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, terrorism is "the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives."

From this perspective, then, strictly defined, terrorism can be waged by a government on its own people, or from organizations outside the country. According to Annamarie Oliverio, during the period from the late 1960s to 1997, almost 4,000 acts of terrorism were cited as occurring in the United States alone. Although these rates declined somewhat as the 20th century drew to a close, there was also an increase in formal social control in the form of luggage searches, radar detection, baggage checks, immigration laws, surveillance experts, and "central intelligence" agencies. "Some writers concluded that the implementation of such repressive measures was effective at countering terrorism."

This point is also made by Peter Chalk, who points out that when dealing with terrorism as a threat to liberal democracy, it is a common assumption that it is the terrorists, who by definition have refused the roles of the liberal democratic "game," who represent the greatest threat to the underlying principles and freedoms that are enshrined in this form of political life. "However, in instances where the state fails to ensure that its response to terrorism is limited, well-defined and controlled, it is likely that institutionalised counter-terrorist policies will pose an even greater threat to the political and civil traditions that are central to the liberal democratic way of life."

Terrorism is the way that non-combatants wage war. There are a number of differences between terrorism and traditional wars, including the concept that traditional wars are sometimes "legal" and terrorism is illegal, and that the perpetrators and the intended victims of terrorism are frequently civilians, while in traditional war the intended victims are soldiers. "Why do people engage in terrorism? Terrorists are not stupid. They are purposeful. The violence of terrorism, like the violence of punishment, is expressive." In the vernacular of criminal law, terrorists may pontentially resort to citing retributive or instrumentalist motives for the innocent suffering they inflict. According to Kenneth Roth, "Retributive" terrorists believe that the victims (or their country) deserve punishment, for their own sake. More typically, though, the objective of terrorism is instrumentalist."

Terrorists want to force Western compliance with their will by inflicting fear; likewise, the American government appears to want to support its agenda by keeping the American public as frightened as possible a la Michael Moore. While the conspiracists may be off the mark in this regard, the fact remains that the U.S. government's primary and overriding goal since September 11, 2001, has been to defeat terrorism on a wide range of fronts. As inexorable (and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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