Terrorism What Was Once Seen on Television Term Paper

Pages: 7 (2297 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 15  ·  Level: College Sophomore  ·  Topic: Terrorism

Terrorism

What was once seen on television as part of temporary news broadcasts is now more and more present to even become a global threat. Terrorism is "the threat or use of violence, often against the civilian population, to achieve political or social ends, to intimidate opponents, or to publicize grievances" (the Columbia Encyclopedia, 2007). The most jeopardizing feature of terrorism for a community is given by the fact that it most often targets innocent civilians and it becomes a danger to all of us, everywhere we may be: the shopping mall, the street, the train or even our workplace. "Terrorism, like the plague in the Middle Ages, frightens both leaders and citizens. It is a disease that is spreading, its cure is unknown" (Deutch, 1997). But aside from the social aspect of terrorist attacks, there are also other major implications in the field of economics and politics. The major economic effects could revolve around the flourishing or decline of certain industrial sectors or the effects felt by the operations of international trade.

But in spite of these implications upon the economic well-being of countries, terrorism is rather difficult to stop due to its numerous characteristics. The international powers have often joined forces in trying to resolve the problem of terrorism, and they encountered both success and failure alike. The fight against terrorism has mostly been led on two simultaneous fields - through military combats and within political debates.

2. Terrorists' Incentives

It is rather difficult to look at terrorism from a positive standpoint and identify its benefits, more over since it most often targets innocent individuals and causes their death. Also, the benefits are difficult to be seen as there most always exists a non-violent alternative to achieving the desired results; however the alternatives have a less distinct impact (Halwani, 2006). The costs of terrorist acts on the other hand are more easily identified and they are tremendous, to include the death of innocent civilians and the trauma of the remaining ones. The international standpoint on terrorism is well established but to understand the incentives that drive terrorists, one should look at the marginal benefits and costs from the standpoint of the member to a terrorist organization.

Benefits of terrorism

There are two primary benefits of terrorist attacks. First of all, the individuals committing the acts are ensured that their message will be clearly heard and understood by the desired recipients, generally the members of the political parties, and more recently the officials of large corporations. Then, the second benefit is that of creating chaos and gaining more power, which would help the terrorist better achieve their goals. To explain, take the hypothetical example of a European country fighting alongside with the American troops to bring peace and political stability in Iraq and Afghanistan. Take the situation where the country was not initially a great supporter of sending its troops there and sacrificing its military men in a war that wasn't even theirs. Say then that the European country was attacked by the terrorist groups in Afghanistan and they demanded that the European troops be removed from the Afghan territory, otherwise other attacks would follow and other innocent civilians would be killed. The European country would then find itself in a state of mass hysteria and generalized fear and the inhabitants would most likely pressure the government to remove the troops from the foreign territory in order to best protect the country. Therefore, the desired terrorist goal could be achieved through a sentimental blackmail and an installment of fear.

In the particular case of the terrorist attacks originating in the Middle East and targeting the United States of America, another benefit could be identified. The evidence in this matter is rather circumstantial and has not been supported with any data, but it is worth mentioning at least to better understand the standpoint of the attacker. In this line of thoughts, the Afghanis often feel that the U.S. is not interested in their peace and security but in their oil reserves and the terrorist attacks make a statement that taking over these reserves would not be acceptable, and if it were to occur, it will not be easy nor without a fight. All in all, the primary justification of terrorist attacks is that they mostly occur from the desire to protect one's property, be it material or immaterial, and the benefit is that the statement made is so horrific that it has an international impact.

Costs of terrorism

Again from the standpoint of the member of a terrorist organization, the costs are not clearly established but these may take a more social turn. In other words, even if the inhabitants of a country feel the same way and have similar demands and expectation as the terrorists, they would prefer a more peaceful approach. Foremost, the other inhabitants often condone the acts of their fellow countrymen, resulting in the social outcast of the terrorists.

3. Anti-terrorist policies

The first anti-terrorist policy was adopted in Geneva in November 1937 and it was the result of the assassination of King Alexander or Yugoslavia and French Foreign Minister Loius Bathou by a revolutionary Macedonian belonging to a fanatic group of Croatians. The League of Nations Council for the Prevention and Punishment of Terrorism saw that "the contracting states undertook to treat as criminal offences acts of terrorism, including conspiracy, incitement and participation in such acts, and in some cases to grant extradition for such crimes" (Suter, 2005). However, it never came into full force as the countries did not ratify it and therefore its effects did little aside from increasing awareness of the existence and threat posed by terrorist groups.

Such an agreement on the international treatment of terrorism still fails to materialize and the need for it increases with every day. Countries generally take matter in their own hands when being attacked. The United States for instance, following the tragic events of September 11, installed policies that prohibited foreigners from entering the country. "Immediately after [the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States] the United States' national program to admit refugees fleeing persecution around the world was shut down completely for almost three months, stranding more than 22,000 refugees who had already been told they could come to the United States. At the same time, the U.S. government began an intensive effort to apprehend accomplices and prevent another attack. Thousands of people who had nothing to do with terrorism-mostly non-citizens-were trapped in a hastily-cast net. Nearly 1,200 people were detained, mostly Arab, South Asian and Muslim men" (Balkin, 2004). And most of these men had no implication in terrorist activities. The clear effect was an increasing fear and instability of the general population alongside with mistrust in the state authorities.

In regard to the terrorist groups, the anti-terrorist policies have had limited effects. It is true that the laws become stricter; terrorist found it harder to enter the better supervised territories and some of them were even captured, but this only led to the further development and adaptation of the terrorists to the new rules and techniques implemented by the authorities.

4. Policy Instruments and how they Affect Terrorism

There is a wide set of national and international policies that could be said to increase the opportunity cost of becoming part of a terrorist group. The examples are various and the outcome is almost always the same. In other words, most of the terrorist come from underdeveloped countries, with high unemployment rate, reduced resources and capabilities to sustain a decent standard of living. These individuals have to choose between possible starvation and committing terrorist attacks to retrieve some financial resources and also to make a political statement they believe to be in the best interest of their country.

Two major policies could be seen as increasing the opportunity cost of becoming a terrorist. First of all, there is the expanding globalization of all features of the political, economic, technological and even cultural domains. This then materializes in an increased opportunity to outsource work to countries with cheaper workforce. The most relevant example in this case is sports ware manufacturer Nike, which opened subsidies in various underdeveloped countries, which also host terrorist groups. In other words, the international organization could be said to indirectly finance terrorist attacks through the hiring and payment of locals, who would then use the earned money to buy weapons. In a nutshell, globalization and market liberalization can easily be perceived as a force increasing the opportunity cost of becoming a terrorist.

A second such policy could be given by the modifications occurring in the global context and can also be linked to the low income countries. In this order of ideas, John Deutch gives the example of the Russia, a country whose population still lives in poverty but has increased access to materials desired by the terrorists and for the right price, they could sell the materials. "The collapse of the Soviet Union and the opening of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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