Analysis Of Michael Walzer's View On Terrorism

1586 words - 6 pages

Michael Walzer is an esteemed retired professor from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. Walzer has written many books, essays, and articles. His essay, Excusing Terror, is one that best relates to the current events happening around the world. In this essay, Walzer talks about different reasons that people would want to resort to terrorism. In this essay I will argue Walzers view on Terrorism is correct in that terrorism is wrong because it is akin to murder, it is random in who it targets, and no one has immunity. I will also offer an objection to Walzer’s theory and explain why it is not a valid one.

First to determine if terrorism is in fact right or wrong we must understand what it is. Although there is not a universal definition to describe terrorism I relate closely to Walzers definition which is: “a random murder of innocent people, intended to frighten a population into demanding that their governments negotiate for their safety.” In Walzer’s article “Terrorism” (Cahn, 239) he lists the purpose and methods of terrorism as to “destroy the moral of a nation or a class, to undercut its solidarity; its method is the random murder of innocent people.” Innocent people or noncombatants, as people call them, are described as normal working civilians who do not play a role in the government or have any control of what is happening politically. These innocent people are the ones who are targeted with no regards to political affiliation, the only thing that makes them the target is simply belonging to a certain group. To offer an example in 911 innocent people were killed and were chosen only because they worked in the World Trade Center, they were not chosen for anything they had done politically. Walzer also mentions that terrorism is an indirect approach to war, and in my mind cowardly. Another important aspect of Walzer’s claim is that there is a line between political assassinations and terrorism as well, he goes on to mention that this line is a very thin line but that even political assassins have a distinct target and are carrying out a plan for a revolution for change not to expire a whole set of people. I believe Walzers argument is a valid and sound argument given the definition he uses for terrorism, we will take a closer look at another definition later.

Terrorism is akin to murder therefore it is wrong. Universally we agree that murder is the unjustifiable killing of a person, likely a terrorist cannot offer a reason justifiable for why they killed a specific person because the act of terrorism is random. The Terrorists do not know enough about their victims to offer a morally sound reason for killing them, they are simply focusing on one aspect of a person rather than who they actually are. Although politicians are also effected by terrorism indirectly simply because they must handle how it is dealt with and prosecution of those individuals, it is not the politicians or government officials who are...

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