Terrorism and Morality by Haig Khatchadourian
In “Terrorism and Morality,” Haig Khatchadourian argues that terrorism is always wrong. Within this argument, Khatchadourian says that all forms of terrorism are wrong because the outcome deprives those terrorized of their basic humanity. To this end, Khatchadourian says that even forms of terrorism that are designed to bring about a moral good are wrong because of the methods used to achieve that good. Before Khatchadourian spells out why terrorism is wrong, he defines what terrorism is, what causes terrorism, and what people believe terrorism to mean. With a working definition in place, Khatchadourian examines terrorism’s role in a just war and shows that terrorism is never just, even during war. With the assertion that terrorism, even during wartime is unjust, Khatchadourian analyzes the variations of innocence and non-innocence surrounding the victims of a terrorist attack. The analysis of innocence and non-innocence is accomplished through review of the principal of discrimination and the principal of proportion and how each relates to terrorism. From these philosophical and ethical standpoints, Khatchadourian finds that terrorism is unjust and wrong because of the way it groups and punishes the innocent with the guilty, not allowing the victim to properly respond to the charges against them. Finally, Khatchadourian looks at how terrorism is always wrong because of the way it denies a person their basic human rights. In examination of person’s human rights, Khatchadourian finds that terrorism specifically “violates its targets’ right to be treated as moral persons,” as it inflicts pain, suffering and death to those who are not deserving (298).
Khatchadourian holds that “terrorism, in all its types and forms, is always wrong,” followed by an examination of the aspects of terrorism that make it wrong (291). In proving that terrorism is always wrong, Khatchadourian first eliminates the idea that ‘freedom fighting’ as a form of terrorism is morally ethical. Khatchadourian states that this form of terrorism, though it is for a suspected good cause, participates in the “maiming, killing or coercing of non-innocents,” as a non-innocent is a person who is directly related to the injustice in which the terrorist seeks to avenge (293). Therefore, if this type of terrorism is ethical then “considering political assassination as a species of ‘freedom fighting’” would be acceptable as politicians are commonly thought of as non-innocents (293). Upon making this argument Khatchadourian shows that the idea of ‘freedom fighting’ as a form of acceptable terrorism is unfounded, allowing the argument to collapse in on itself, as the assassination of a political leader is never justified.
Upon pointing out the most feasible of the arguments that terrorism is in some way justifiable, Khatchadourian defines the universal goals of terrorism. Khatchadourian says that the...