How To Define Terrorism. Essay

1558 words - 6 pages

Following the dramatic events of September 11, 2001, the issue of terrorism has become a permanent actor in the daily amphitheater of international politics. Elevated from its formerly amateur status, this evolving phenomenon has not only captured the substantial absorption of the United States, but increasingly, the rest of the world. It seems ironic that such a captivating subject remains so elusive, as despite the attention given towards terrorism, there is much consternation as to what it actually is.Through discussion of the significance of forming such a definition, we can seek to further appreciate the incidence, and perhaps reach some conclusion as to the justification, if any, behind terrorism.The recent spate of terror attacks, both on the U.S and other parts of the world, has shone significant light on the question of what exactly constitutes 'terrorism' or even the mere application of the term. The difficulty in addressing this seemingly simple question can be found when trying to locate a collective definition for the phenomenon, in that there is none. Instead, what does abound is much academic debate on the subject , and the general conclusion is that a worldwide, internationally accepted definition may never be established . As the phrase goes "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter," and how increasingly true this seems, as the question of who or who is not a terrorist, depends entirely on the point of view of the individual. This problem of subjectivity is near insurmountable, as when every definition of terrorism is an inherently different one; there is a considerable problem with trying to find simply one definition, let alone one justification. Many proposals have been submitted towards finding a single definition but none have been ratified, as the word itself is fraught with negative connotation. Thus many institutions opt to independently define terrorism, often with ulterior motives. No country wishes to be accused of supporting terrorism by harboring terrorist group's, and likewise no country desires what it considers a 'legitimate use of force' to be deemed terrorism. Consequently definitions are cast into personalized molds to serve their makers own political ends.One could argue, why, if there is such difficulty attached to the act of defining it, should terrorism be defined at all? To answer, merit can be found in arguments against and for the formation of a single definition, but the more persuasive seems to be the latter. If one such definition was created, states that sponsor terrorism may attempt to persuade the international community to define terrorism in a way so that the terror groups they sponsor would be outside it. Conversely, by recognizing and excluding particular tactics, countries can more easily combine forces to limit the tools available to terrorists. In this, countries would at least be obligated to act against terrorists, even when they agree with the terrorists' goals.John V....

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