The Catalysts and Images of Terrorism: National Security Threat

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Historically, terrorism is as old as humans, willingness to use force to affect politics. It has its roots firmly planted, starting around 1st century B.C.E. when the Sicarii, a Jewish group who murdered enemies and collaborators in their campaign to oust their Roman rulers from Judea. The Hashhashin, whose name gave us the English word "assassins," were a secretive Islamic sect active in Iran and Syria from the 11th to the 13th century. Today modern terrorism has learned their lessons from the past and has adapted their techniques in order to achieve their political agenda. Dr. Robert Brathwaite, asserts, “The U.S. National Security establishment currently views terrorism as the single biggest challenge the U.S. faces” (pg. 2). Most policy makers debate over the true definition of terrorism, but many agree on a narrow set of reasons why terrorism poses such a threat. First image threats are charismatic individuals who induce radicalization, for example Osama Bin Laden. Second image threats are states in the international system who are hostile to Western interests and promote radicalization, such as, military dictatorships and non-democratic states. Finally, third image is the decline of the West or Clash of Civilizations responsible for radicalization.
Furthermore, the failure of Democratic Peace Theory (DPT) has been the catalyst driving modern day terrorism to become the unpredictable monstrosity it is today. The idea of a lasting, ideally global, peace has been present in the minds of people for centuries. The most notable formulation of this is Kant’s vision of perpetual peace. “He saw it as a condition that needed to be maintained by politics between states with governments which represented society and separation of power. From this basic framework stems the idea called “democratic peace theory” (pg. 82). Democratic Peace Theory (DPT) asserts that democracies do not generally fight other democracies because they share common norms and domestic institutions that constrain international, state actors from going to war. Sebastian Rosato states, “In practical terms democratic peace theory provides the intellectual justification for the belief that spreading democracy abroad will perform the dual task of enhancing American national security promoting world peace” (pg. 585).
DPT is not only a fallacy, but it does not even begin to understand and contain modern day terrorism. Democratic Peace Theory sounds brilliant on paper, but when closely inspected, its deceptive nature and apparent simplicity becomes evident. One issue that currently divides many experts is the question of defining democracy and liberalism. Furthermore, there is no concise understanding of liberalism and democracy. Democratic peace theory fails to account for human behavior and perception. This is especially crucial when understanding terrorism at its core. This essay proposes that second and third image threats are the main underlying reason why terrorism still exists...

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