Travel Broaden the Mind

6663 WordsApr 11, 201327 Pages
An Argument for Terrorism By Richard Jackson [1] It has become something of a cliché to note that there are over 200 definitions of terrorism in existence within broader terrorism studies literature; that many terrorism scholars have given up on the definitional debate and use the term unreflectively; and that such a state of affairs hampers theoretical progress and skews terrorism research in unhelpful ways. However, the significance and consequences of the definitional debate go far beyond such narrow academic confines, important as they are to the field. Rather, the issue of definition is central to the way in which the Global War on Terror is prosecuted by the authorities both domestically and overseas. It also affects the way in which…show more content…
Although this is in part the result of the definitional practices noted above, it is also the result of an understandable but avoidable ideological bias amongst many Western scholars who adopt the interests of their own governments. A more serious issue is that the field has been widely criticised for its failure to provide sustained analysis (and moral condemnation) of state terrorism. Indicative of the almost exclusive focus on ―terrorism from below‖ as opposed to ―terrorism from above‖ is the finding that only 12, or less than two percent, of articles from 1990 to 1999 in the core terrorism studies journals focused on state terrorism,[ 11] and that only 12 of the 768 pages in the Encyclopaedia of World Terrorism (1997) examined state terrorism in any form.[12] In part, this is due to the not infrequent practice noted above of defining terrorism exclusively as a form of non-state violence. However, there are also many prominent scholars who accept that, objectively, terrorism is a strategy of political violence that any actor can employ, including states, yet simply refuse to examine cases of state terrorism in their research. Walter Laqueur, arguably one of the founders of terrorism studies, is emblematic of this practice: he openly accepts that states have killed many more people and caused far more material and social destruction than
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