Magoosh GRE

Is there such a thing as ‘terrorism’? [essay]

| March 30, 2012 | 0 Comments

Terrorism is a rising problem in today’s world. Though this term is used very freely, technically it has always been a question as to what terrorism exactly is and whether it truly exists or not. Experts describe terrorism as use of acts of coercion to inflict violent activities on masses of people. These activities are usually perpetrated for perpetrating religious, political or ideological goals among people and to show them that not following these set of norms may result in them losing their lives. There is not international definition for terrorism but it is considered a harmful act (Combs, 1997).

We usually come across condemned incidents like the World trade centre attack (11/09/2001), Mumbai train blasts,  Islamabad Mariott Hotel bombing as well asLondonblasts. These and many similar incidents are labelled by media as terrorist activities. Terrorism known to us is presented as a malicious act that arise from social evils such as secession of territories, dominance, imposition of ideologies, economic deprivation, opposition or religious fanaticism. However, it cannot be denied that terrorism is becoming a very political concept owing to the interference from media (Combs, 1997, Laqueur, 1987; Hoffman, 2006)).

Social scientists and social psychologists have delved into this field since the past decade and emerging research in this field has given a new angle of perception. It is said that terrorism begins in the mind (Hoffman, 2006). ‘Terrorism’ has not been termed as a mental health condition, but the rigid patterns in which the propagators and perpetrators of terrorism think, feel and behave has certainly been put under the banner of investigation from the viewpoint of ‘mental sickness’. It can be questioned whether an economically deprived person who becomes a pawn to a terrorist organization without himself possessing any ideologies can be termed as a terrorist. Is terrorist only a person who is spotted with weapons and held in camps working on plans pertaining to bombing? The answer to this is definitely difficult (Hoffman, 2006; Combs, 1997; Laqueur 1987).

Though the politically broad view and individualistically narrow view depict terrorism and terrorist activities differently, it consistently points out to the fact that ‘terrorism’ exists. The existence of terrorism is questioned also from the viewpoint of the funding bodies (Bajpai 2003; Hoffman, 2006). Does it mean that if the government perpetrates a particular ideology that is harmful to the nation itself or to its’ neighbours it cannot be termed as terrorism? However, if a religious or a political party works on similar grounds, their behaviour is considered punishable. Under the militantPakistan, terrorist activities inflicted on neighbouring countryIndiawere in fact justified in terms ofPakistangovernment (Bajpai 2003).

Countries of the world must set up a code to protect human life and any ideology threateningly imposed upon citizens by a particular group should be viewed as terrorism. However broad the inclusion expanse may be, terrorism activities will always find its’ way out and the question will once again rise, but rather than working on seeking answer to this theoretical and framework based question, governments must work on preventing activities that harm their people.



Bajpai, K.S (2003) Untangling Indian andPakistan, Foreign affairs 82(3), 112-119

Combc, C.C (1997) Terrorism in the 21st century, Prentice Hall Inc:United States

Hoffman, B (2006) Inside terrorism,ColumbiaUniversitypress:West Sussex

Laqueur, W (1987) The age of terrorism, Little Brown Publication:Boston

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Category: Essay & Dissertation Samples, Politics Essay Examples

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