How Is Terrorism Doomed To Fail?

1392 Words 6 Pages
In the essay, I will argue that as a strategy for political change, terrorism is indeed doomed to fail. I will give a number of justifications for this. The key areas of criticism will revolve around the issue terrorists have with communicating their message, and the potential backlash of terrorist activity (both by the target public and government). As we will see, tied into the very definition of terrorism is a suggestion of failure. Counter points will be offered for terrorism’s efficacy, particularly those given by Pape on suicide bombers, as well as Rose and Murphy’s case study of the Madrid Bombings.
Before I examine the main arguments against terrorism’s efficacy, I must first map out how I define the key phrases in the question. Defining
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As defined by Neuman and Smith, two key parts of the framework of terrorist strategy are target response, which involves making the government respond in a manner that is favourable to the terrorist cause, and gaining legitimacy through giving an alternate political message and rallying support. Both of these features require that the terrorist group communicates its goals in an understandable way to the public and government it is trying to influence. As Nicolas O’Berry states, the behaviour of the target population is paramount in determining the success of failure of terrorist activity. Abrhams also corroborates this thought with his focus on the importance of target selection. Freedman too makes a related point that the key tactics of coercion and deterrence used by terrorists require that the target understand the objective and act accordingly in a predictable …show more content…
If this is so, then it would undermine CIT. In the Madrid case, 49% of the public believed withdrawing their troops from Iraq would decrease terrorist attacks . Indeed, troops in Iraq were one of the terrorists’ major grievances. This seems to support the notion that CIT is not in fact true. Further, the Spanish government did in fact remove its troops after a public outcry and the voting in of a new government. Rose and Murphy argue this illustrates the efficacy of terrorism, and the terrorist attacks directly influenced the voting in favour of new leadership. I do not find this example persuasive. For one, there is no way of knowing how the vote would have gone if the terrorist attack had not happened. Secondly, as Abrhams points out, the Spanish public was well aware of the terrorists’ objectives prior to the attack, and so CIT does not apply here. In addition, it is an isolated case study, and so is not significantly damaging to the CIT

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