SCMT319

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150 agree or disagree


There are several definitions of the term “terrorism.” For example, the Department of State define terrorism as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience” (Sinai, 2010). The National Research Center (NRC) stated there to be no single definition that could satisfy analytic purposes, but instead a multitude of overlapping definitions (Sinai, 2010). The NRC formed its own definition, which states terrorism is comprised of various components. According to Sinai (2010), these components include: illegally using or threatening the use of force or violence, the intent to coerce societies or governments by inducing fear in their populations, typically motivated/justified by/with political and /or ideological, and an ‘extra-societal’ element, either ‘outside’ society in the case of domestic terrorism or ‘foreign’ in the case of international terrorism.” Separately, when studying the psychology of terrorism, the definition is focused on violent acts against civilian non-combatants, not as much on the threatening with coercive intent (Borum, n.d.). 

            Regardless of definition, I think one of more important definitive components is instilling fear in a population. Combining a few existing definitions and expanding upon them, I think this instilling of fear can be carried out via violent acts or simply through their implied usage. I also agree with the Department of State’s characterization of non-combatants as both civilians and off-duty military. This is why I believe attacking non-combatants is another key component. This doesn’t mean I think the targets are limited to non-combatants. I believe targets could also include military personnel operating in combat zone, or on duty working infrastructure security. Attacks on these would be another means to an end for a terrorist in my opinion. I don’t think the actual characterization of the person(s) committing the acts(s) is important. What I mean by that is it could be an individual, group, state-sponsored, etc. Finally, my last component would be an ideological motivation, whether it be religious, political, or simply protective of a desired way of life.

            Based off of the components I’ve listed, I’d say the United States is not a terrorist organization. I was thinking initially perhaps colonists could be considered terroristic in nature. But they didn’t attack non-combatants, nor did they attack the British military prior to onset of the war. The United States of present wouldn’t fall into the category of terrorism either. Non-combatants aren’t being targeted, and the ideology behind the military presence overseas is more of ensuring protection of others and assets, and not attempting to protect/defend our ideals, rights, freedom, religion, etc. While we might not all agree with where everyone is deployed, referring to us as terrorist organization seems like a stretch. 

            Finally, based on my identified components, I would define terrorism as the act or threat of acts designed to instill fear, with the intent of demonstrating the resolve of the actor’(s) motivating ideology.

References

Borum, R. (n.d.). Psychology of Terrorism. Retrieved from https://scholarcommons.usf.edu/mhlp_facpub/571/

Sinai, J. (2010). How to define terrorism. Perspectives On Terrorism, 2(4). Retrieved from http://www.terrorismanalysts.com/pt/index.php/pot/article/view/33

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