Reading Review : Why Terrorism Doesn 't Work

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POLS2207 Reading Review: Why Terrorism doesn’t work – Max Abrahms Leo Kwon I disagree with Abrahms’ article ‘Why Terrorism doesn’t work’, there are a number of fundamental flaws within his work that I feel undermines its credibility. I feel that if he offered the readers the chance to reach their own conclusions it would have been a persuasive piece. However, by using limited data samples as evidence for his arguments, I find it difficult to understand why this article is held in such high esteem. In his academic work “Why Terrorism doesn’t work”, Max Abrahms examines the list of twenty-eight terrorist groups since 2001 in order to demonstrate that terrorism doesn’t achieve its political objectives (Abrahms, 2006). He used statistical…show more content…
This is a very limited and narrow framework for terrorism as it doesn’t capture other motives behind an attack. A recent example is the 9/11 attack on the US, Abrahms definition doesn’t capture other motives such as distancing a government from its citizens or strengthening a terrorist group’s own position (Abrams, 2011). Even though it can be argued that he is identifying the most prominent type of terrorism, his definition is similar to military tactics that were used in both conventional and irregular wars (Said, 2011). The second weakness is his sample of twenty eight terrorist groups. Abrahms gathers all of the terrorist groups into one sample, even though there is a huge difference in method and ability between the groups that shouldn’t be ignored. Terrorist groups such as the RAF are consisted of a small amount of protestors who use terrorism exclusively, while other complex actors, such as Hizbullah engage in multiple levels of political action (Said, 2011). The time frame in which the sample was made also needs mentioning. The time period in which this sample was constructed (2001-2006) is not reliable enough to assess the success of terrorist groups. His arguments would have been much more persuasive if he had another sample in order to assess groups such as the IRA, who use terrorism as part of a ‘long strategy’ (Rose, 2007). According to Abrahms, ‘the states objectives of terrorist groups are a stable and reliable indicator of their actual intentions’
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