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Thoughts on Terrorism
Posted: 26 January 2014 05:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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I don’t think that you would be wise to include one off school shootings as terrorism. There has to be some component of continuity to the act of terror. Just going ‘postal’ and killing your ex-teachers for failing you in high school does not fit the definition for me. It may be terrifying and/or terrible but it does not seem right to label it as terrorism.

According to the info that Mike provided, the FBI definition of domestic terrorism fits here. Killing your teacher for whatever reason does violate Federal and state law. your definition ,however fits as well. it is “terrifying and terrible” to say the least.


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Posted: 26 January 2014 11:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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From what I’ve seen of reports of shootings at schools, malls, etc. the survivors all said they were terrified.  It seems that terrorism is just one more word that newscasters love to use to make their narrative more dramatic.  If one were to list the basis for a number of them, it could probably be: revenge, a religious requirement, generalized anger, desire to demonstrate that one has power, psychosis, among others.

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Posted: 26 January 2014 01:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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From what I’ve seen of reports of shootings at schools, malls, etc. the survivors all said they were terrified.  It seems that terrorism is just one more word that newscasters love to use to make their narrative more dramatic.  If one were to list the basis for a number of them, it could probably be: revenge, a religious requirement, generalized anger, desire to demonstrate that one has power, psychosis, among others.

Occam

Out of that list I’d definitely put psychosis at the top coupled with rage and delusions of grandeur which IMO goes along with revenge for some supposed slight. Oh, and throw in drugs as well. Most of the murders in our area are now drug related.


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Posted: 31 January 2014 06:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Interesting thread this has become. - One thing I certainly agree on is that terrorists often have good ideas, but very narrow-minded, and then trying to impose these “liberating” ideas on others. (Especially in left-wing terrorism this pretty much amounts to fascism, the very thing trying to get eradicated.)

One thing that always bothered me, given today and 9/11, and something I never understood, is why in the world involve the military in terrorist action? (Bush power-hunger and finishing his daddy’s work.) This belongs to special ops, the CIA, and who knows whom. Using terrorism, which in itself is rather harmless, except for the element of fear and “accidents” like big things like 9/11, as a political tool of control, that’s rather shitty.

And don’t misunderstand me, I take these Nazi fucks, which is what terrorists are, very seriously, but on the larger scale they are hilariously useless. You have more people killed in homicides by plain gun ownership than these people can harm in decades. - Granted, there is that fear factor, and the idea that the government “keeps us safe”, which I don’t even dispute as I’m sure they did on many occasions, but terrorists are just that, deluded nuts who can’t even pull off their own army. Pretty pathetic if you ask me.

Wanna make a difference? Stick to philosophy. That’s my point all day long.

[ Edited: 01 February 2014 09:24 AM by Michelle D. ]
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Posted: 04 February 2014 10:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Remember, the FBI definition is designed to allow ease of prosecution, it is not a philosophical treatise.

I think there is general agreement on what terrorism is, I think the philosophical jury is still out on whether it is by definition always wrong, or if it can be used in a justifiable way. (Beyond simple “its in the eye of the beholder” relativism.) That is a more interesting question to me.

That being said, I think some of their definition is there for ease of prosecution… “violating of State and Federal Law,” some of it is more philosophical. FBI and mine has some similarities:

If I would offer a simple definition: “A strategy of violence where force is employed to shock or frighten a population into becoming complicit in a political outcome, often times employed in asymmetrical power relations when a side wishing to employ lawful violence (war) or other strategies are not likely to succeed, or in other relationships when one side does not wish to pay the expected price of using conventional/lawful force or measures.” It can be religiously motivated, doesn’t need to be, but does have to be employed with the intent of a strategic outcome. I agree that it does not include a chaos figure/psychotic actions.

examples:

Invade Japan during WWII with the Marines= lawful act of war

Bomb factories producing tanks=problematic expansion of the concept of collateral damage, to include targets significant to a military and not just the military. Its purpose was not to fight army versus army, but to disrupt the future supply of army material. It was also not to terrorize the factory workers into quitting- they were collateral, therefore not terrorism, despite targeting civilians.

London Blitz=terrorism campaign to elicit the political outcome of a British Separate Peace with Germany, failed.

Dresden=Revenge+Terror?, I am open to argument here, I am not convinced it was completely strategic, nor do I think they expected a particular political outcome. It was more likely eye for an eye punishment.

Rape of Nanking etc- Japanese occupation clearly meant to pacify through terror as a cheap alternative to traditional occupation.= Terrorism

Atomic Bombs / target “dual targets” of military and civilian populations with atomic bombs in order to shock the Japanese civilian population into applying pressure on the government to withdraw its armed forces. The use employed the strategy to avoid the casualties of conventional fighting=Terrorism.

Osama Bin Laden and 9/11- attack on population that was designed to accomplish two goals: 1) to gain local political capital as the most significant jihadi leader by accomplishing such an audacious attack, 2) and to goad the US into costly retaliation that would make it too expensive to maintain its hegemony in the Middle East in the face of growing opposition that would likely result if it was the case that the US went into a protracted war in the region. He had met with success after the Herat Uprising drew the USSR into a costly campaign that contributed heavily to its disintegration and loss of influence in the region. He calculated terrorism as the best strategy to employ on the other asymmetrical power relationship in the area that he wished to alter- the US. Since then, several western backed regimes have fallen to popular uprisings, of which Wahhabi inspired groups have largely benefited. = Clearly “Terror” and not merely “revenge.”


Unlike a few others… I think you could create an argument for justifiable terrorism in the case of the Atomic bombs. Given historical realities and calculations, that “act of terror” can be reasonably argued to have saved lives compared to the “lawful exercise of conventional forces” alternatives available. It is not the only valid interpretation, but is well worth considering when being realistic about possible alternatives.

Osama’s actions I would argue as not justifiable, because there were other political strategies left open that may have helped achieve the same goal without the loss of so many lives- UN, civil disobedience, peaceful political evolution in key Arab states… etc…

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Posted: 04 February 2014 11:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Terrorism is any act designed to intimidate people. It can be organized and include many peope, such as the terrorism of the World Trade Center bombings , or it can be one lone gunman in a school or shopping mall. A shot doesn’t have to be fired and no one has to die or be physically injured for the act to qualify as terrorism. The defining aspect is intimidation, it can be the intimidation of millions of people or one, sometimes its poitical, sometimes it’s personal—such as the kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard and similar acts.

Terrorists are all around us. It can be your neighbor who threatens to cause you harm if you set foot on his property.  It can be a schoolteacher or parent who disciplines with threats. It can be a domestic partner who intimidates by physical or emotional abuse. We do ourselves a disservice when we assume terrorism can be carried out only by large, powerful groups.

Lois

[ Edited: 06 April 2014 10:33 AM by Lois ]
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Posted: 04 February 2014 12:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Unlike a few others… I think you could create an argument for justifiable terrorism in the case of the Atomic bombs. Given historical realities and calculations, that “act of terror” can be reasonably argued to have saved lives compared to the “lawful exercise of conventional forces” alternatives available. It is not the only valid interpretation, but is well worth considering when being realistic about possible alternatives.

I see your point FP but disagree that your historical references would fall under terrorists acts. These were blanketed by formal declarations of war, in each case excepting the Rape of Nanking for which the perpetrator was hanged as a war criminal, the acts fell under the purview of military planners who adopted the concept of total war, i.e. destroying the enemy’s ability and will to fight. This meant that collateral damage was necessary to subdue the enemy state and more quickly end the war. I do agree however that the Dresden Bombing was unnecessary and overkill. Blame Curtis LeMay. I also agree that dropping the Atomic bombs were a way to minimize allied casualties and not as a terrorist act. Leaflets were dropped forty eight hours before the attack warning the civilians to get out of the city.

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Posted: 04 February 2014 02:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 04 February 2014 12:44 PM

Unlike a few others… I think you could create an argument for justifiable terrorism in the case of the Atomic bombs. Given historical realities and calculations, that “act of terror” can be reasonably argued to have saved lives compared to the “lawful exercise of conventional forces” alternatives available. It is not the only valid interpretation, but is well worth considering when being realistic about possible alternatives.

I see your point FP but disagree that your historical references would fall under terrorists acts. These were blanketed by formal declarations of war, in each case excepting the Rape of Nanking for which the perpetrator was hanged as a war criminal, the acts fell under the purview of military planners who adopted the concept of total war, i.e. destroying the enemy’s ability and will to fight. This meant that collateral damage was necessary to subdue the enemy state and more quickly end the war. I do agree however that the Dresden Bombing was unnecessary and overkill. Blame Curtis LeMay. I also agree that dropping the Atomic bombs were a way to minimize allied casualties and not as a terrorist act. Leaflets were dropped forty eight hours before the attack warning the civilians to get out of the city.

Cap’t Jack

Like most arguments, our differences probably all come down to definitions. If you take the Henry Stimson Harper’s Weekly at face value, there is no question that Atomic bombs were by the FBI definition, and most others definition “terrorism.” Total war is not codified to include targeting civilians for political gain, though it might be a logical outgrowth of it. Nor do I think it ultimately matters, perhaps what you imply is that there isnt just justifiable terrorism, but also lawful terrorism? Nor does the fact that it is within or not within the purview of military planners seem to be relevant to me, or my definition. My definition revolves around target and intent, whether or not the act is planned or executed under the blanket of declarations of war or not is beside the point. Who was the target, what was the intent? According to Secy. Stimson, the bomb sites were chosen specifically for the purpose of shocking and scaring the civilian population into producing political pressure on the government, which in turn could pull the Army out of the field.

How was the bombs supposed to minimize casualties? What was the intent? That is the key. The intent to bomb a factory is to cripple the war effort by crippling supply of the military apparatus, certainly that means targeting civilians (you know they are in there in the same way the Germans knew there were civilians on the Lusitania) but it does not fit my definition of terrorism because the intent is not to target those civilians in order to use fear for a political outcome. Clearly when Stimson and his team targeted “virgin” targets that were “dual targets” in order to shock the Japanese civilian population into withdrawing support for the imperial government, it was not conventional military strategy, not mere collateral damage, it was something else- terrorism.

Total War does present some interesting challenges to the military and civilian distinction in conventional war theory- it is also why we are seen as hypocrites when our presidents state categorically that “it is always and everywhere wrong to target innocent civilians,” when clearly our war planners (and myself) would concede, that it is indeed justifiable in some cases to target innocent civilians. Hiroshima being one example in my mind. Justifiable targeting of civilians to shock and cower the population into uprising against its own government- it was terrorism, but I do believe in that case it saved lives over the supposed “lawful form of war.” Not to open another can of worms- as a humanist/feminist I also fail to recognize that any number of 18 year old males drafted into a conscript army should be required to die before a single civilian man woman or child does in a war situation. That just seems like one area where the patriarchy gave the dirty end of the stick to young men and devalued their lives relative to others. That however is a different argument for another day. I will stick to my definition- justifiable terrorism.

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Posted: 04 February 2014 08:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Total War does present some interesting challenges to the military and civilian distinction in conventional war theory- it is also why we are seen as hypocrites when our presidents state categorically that “it is always and everywhere wrong to target innocent civilians,” when clearly our war planners (and myself) would concede, that it is indeed justifiable in some cases to target innocent civilians. Hiroshima being one example in my mind. Justifiable targeting of civilians to shock and cower the population into uprising against its own government- it was terrorism, but I do believe in that case it saved lives over the supposed “lawful form of war.” Not to open another can of worms- as a humanist/feminist I also fail to recognize that any number of 18 year old males drafted into a conscript army should be required to die before a single civilian man woman or child does in a war situation. That just seems like one area where the patriarchy gave the dirty end of the stick to young men and devalued their lives relative to others. That however is a different argument for another day. I will stick to my definition- justifiable terrorism.

But the concept of total war in a modern sense, as first used as a campaign to end the American Civil War and planned by Grant and Sherman had a military purpose. The concept was two fold, one to destroy the Southern ability to resupply it’s armies in the field by destroying the supplies, foodstuffs and forage, and the other to destroy the enemy’s will to resist. This is essentially the same for the subsequent wars. I still don’t see this concept as being labeled a terrorist act however. on this issue we may have to agree to disagree. Also remember that the bombs did litte to cower the Japanese population into surrendering as they were well prepared to defend the mainland to the death. It took the Emperor to declare a surrender and he almost didn’t have the opportunity. Thankfully he saved the lives of millions of loyal subjects and allies. I want to give him a personal shout out because if there had been an invasion I probably wouldn’t be answering your post. BTW, I’m a Humanist married to a feminist. And all wars are fought by the young men, and now women.  The average age of any soldier in antiquity and modern is 19.


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Posted: 04 February 2014 09:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Lois - 04 February 2014 11:14 AM

Terrorism is any act designed to intimidate people. It can be organized and include many peope, such as the terrorism of the World Trade Center bombings , or it can be one lone gunman in a school or shopping mall. A shot doesn’t have to be fired and no one has to die or be physically injured for the act to qualify as terrorism. The defining aspect is intimidation, it can be the intimidation of millions of people or one, sometimes its poitical, sometimes it’s personal—such as the kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard and similar acts.

Terrorists are all around us. It can be your neighbor who threatens to cause you harm if you set foot on his property.  It can be a schoolteacer or parent who disciplines with threats. It can be a domestic partner who intimidates by physical or emotional abuse. We do ourselves a disservice when we assume terrorism can be carried out only by large, powerful groups.

Lois

Damn, this is a loose description of terrorism. Practically everybody in the world is a terrorist then.

[ Edited: 04 February 2014 11:24 PM by mid atlantic ]
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Posted: 07 February 2014 05:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Terrorism, I guess, is the idea that you can subdue a giant by violence.

If you can’t gather enough following to start a revolution and yet want to win you pick your best shot, violence and the play on fear.

In this sense terrorism is the expression of a fringe group trying to gain ground, eventually undermining itself by its own methods.

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Posted: 07 February 2014 09:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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mid atlantic - 04 February 2014 09:13 PM
Lois - 04 February 2014 11:14 AM

Terrorism is any act designed to intimidate people. It can be organized and include many peope, such as the terrorism of the World Trade Center bombings , or it can be one lone gunman in a school or shopping mall. A shot doesn’t have to be fired and no one has to die or be physically injured for the act to qualify as terrorism. The defining aspect is intimidation, it can be the intimidation of millions of people or one, sometimes its poitical, sometimes it’s personal—such as the kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard and similar acts.

Terrorists are all around us. It can be your neighbor who threatens to cause you harm if you set foot on his property.  It can be a schoolteacer or parent who disciplines with threats. It can be a domestic partner who intimidates by physical or emotional abuse. We do ourselves a disservice when we assume terrorism can be carried out only by large, powerful groups.

Lois

Damn, this is a loose description of terrorism. Practically everybody in the world is a terrorist then.

Have you tried to intimidate someone with violence or threats of violence, then? I never have. Do you really think practically everyone in the world does this?

Lois

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Posted: 08 February 2014 01:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Lois - 07 February 2014 09:42 PM
mid atlantic - 04 February 2014 09:13 PM
Lois - 04 February 2014 11:14 AM

Terrorism is any act designed to intimidate people. It can be organized and include many peope, such as the terrorism of the World Trade Center bombings , or it can be one lone gunman in a school or shopping mall. A shot doesn’t have to be fired and no one has to die or be physically injured for the act to qualify as terrorism. The defining aspect is intimidation, it can be the intimidation of millions of people or one, sometimes its poitical, sometimes it’s personal—such as the kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard and similar acts.

Terrorists are all around us. It can be your neighbor who threatens to cause you harm if you set foot on his property.  It can be a schoolteacer or parent who disciplines with threats. It can be a domestic partner who intimidates by physical or emotional abuse. We do ourselves a disservice when we assume terrorism can be carried out only by large, powerful groups.

Lois

Damn, this is a loose description of terrorism. Practically everybody in the world is a terrorist then.

Have you tried to intimidate someone with violence or threats of violence, then? I never have. Do you really think practically everyone in the world does this?

Lois

Yes to both.

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Posted: 06 April 2014 09:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Sort of an oversimplification. First, how do we define terrorism? Basically, small time bombers are terrorists, but if you drop 2,000 pound bombs out of a B52, then you’re a patriot. This is of course a matter of perspective, where you’re sitting relative to the incoming bomb. It’s also judgment clouded by emotion triggered by tribalism.

Some violent revolutions have worked (the United States is a product of one, the Bolsheviks, etc.), so I think this point needs to be qualified. Violence is ineffective in our current society. First and foremost, conditions are not bad enough to morally justify violence. Secondly, the probability of success is absurdly low. So I agree that (in the context of our current society) violence is a bad idea. But if conditions were to change, if it became more viable and justifiable, then it may not be unwise.

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Posted: 06 April 2014 10:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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francismjenkins - 06 April 2014 09:13 AM

Sort of an oversimplification. First, how do we define terrorism? Basically, small time bombers are terrorists, but if you drop 2,000 pound bombs out of a B52, then you’re a patriot. This is of course a matter of perspective, where you’re sitting relative to the incoming bomb. It’s also judgment clouded by emotion triggered by tribalism.

Some violent revolutions have worked (the United States is a product of one, the Bolsheviks, etc.), so I think this point needs to be qualified. Violence is ineffective in our current society. First and foremost, conditions are not bad enough to morally justify violence. Secondly, the probability of success is absurdly low. So I agree that (in the context of our current society) violence is a bad idea. But if conditions were to change, if it became more viable and justifiable, then it may not be unwise.

As with so many other things, any definition of terrorism depends on whose ox is being gored.

Lois

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