T Nation

What is Terrorism?


Are terrorists just terrorists?

When should a state negotiate with terrorists?

How far can a state legitimately go to attack terrorists?

Can a democratically elected government be written off as just terrorists? Under what circumstances?




Until they are exterminated

If they are a terrorist organization, what has changed if they are "elected" by a sympathizing local population? Terrorists are terrorists...

What are terrorists? A terrorist group is one that plans a generally "low tech" surprise attacks on civilian populations at markets, on buses or as people go about their daily lives, often employing suicide bombers. These attacks are designed to inflict maximum civilian casualties and invoke fear and "terror" in the population they've decided to "jihad".

They are not legitimate, nor do they deserved to be given the benefit of the doubt. The only proper way to deal with terrorists is to kill all of them before they indiscriminately kill us. ("us" being defined as rational human beings who don't blow up people because they have a different religion than "us")


My thoughts exactly.


So, the only people that can be terrorists are poor Islamic people from what I gather of your definition.

As far as action, had the original American Revolutionaries been Islamic, they would have been terrorists as well.

And it seems the thing differentiating Israels actions from Terrorists is that they use high tech and are Jewish.

Interesting way to define the word. I always thought it had to do with violence and very real threats for the sake of political gain.


Were the IRA not terrorists? How after the ETA in Spain? Both of them carried out bombings?


Is it a terrorist act to attack people shopping at a market?


That would depend who the terrorists are. Are the terrorists the ones targeting the market or are the terrorists in the market being targeted?


There may be one of your enemies at the market. In order to kill them you kill 5 children. Is this a terrorist act?


Well, I guess terrorists can be brothers, uncles, fathers, sons, etc.

Terrorists are terrorists because they are too weak to become a state, so I guess there's no reason for a state to negotiate.

In my eyes, an attack is never legitimate; defense and response are legitimate.

Yes, if a more powerful state wants to do so.


(1)Terrorism is a relative term . A terrorist is one that creates terror :slight_smile:

(2)Yes the state should and does negotiate with terrorist all the time . The state defers negotiating when politically expedient

(3)They can as far as the political climate allows

(4) yes democracy has nothing to do with it

another point is human rights , some humans have more right than others , some lives have more worth than others and it all concerns political expedience


I ran across this last week and see some relevance , Clinton did not kill Bin Laden when he had the chance because he wanted to be morally superior to him .

Israel should do the same


So over 3000 people were killed because of that decision but at least he feels morally superior. Sounds about right.


The moral high-road is the "main" reason the U.S. fights.

For democracy and whatnot, remember?

Btw, I would definitely define the Sons of Liberty as a terrorist group.


Na, that's the main reason given by politicians catering to a weak willed public. The main reason our military exists is to protect our citizens and our borders.


Hence the quotation marks. I meant it to be ironic.


Sorry, with some of the people populating this thread your sarcastic opinion was not very much of a leap for me to believe.


No problem. I don't know why I keep using sarcasm myself online when I suck at reading them.

That being said... I was totally serious with the Sons of Liberty comment. I find many of the shit they did outright horrifying.


Depends. Have I explored every option to kill the terrorist without harming bystanders? Is there a danger that if I don't kill the terrorist now he may kill dozens of people?


1) Incorrect. Terrorism is the threat or intentional use of violence against civilians to bring about a desired political outcome.

2) Yes, contrary to those who believe that the U.S. "does not negotiate with terrorists", it, along with other democracies, has done so since in founding when it was advantageous.

3) Yes, and the securitization that followed the 11 September attacks provided a broad and vague mandate of force against civilian-centric terrorist groups.

4) If a democratically elected government utilizes the tactic of terrorism to achieve strategic objectives, than yes, it is a terrorist organization.


. . . Along with American foreign policy and economic interests, not that there is anything wrong with that. The American phenomenon of treating every uniformed service member as a "hero" and champion of democracy is naive to say the least.