State Terrorism Is Often a Neglected Phenomenon in Terrorism Studies. Discuss How Terrorism Has Been Used as a Weapon by States over the Past 50 Years

5237 Words Dec 9th, 2013 21 Pages
State terrorism is often a neglected phenomenon in terrorism studies. Discuss how terrorism has been used as a weapon by states over the past 50 years. Is state terrorism fundamentally different from non-state terrorism?


Within this essay I will discuss how states have used terrorism as a weapon over the past 50 to achieve strategic goals. I will then go on to discuss whether it is fundamentally different from non-state terrorism.

To start with we must understand what is meant by a weapon. Encyclopaedia Britannica defines a weapon as “An instrument used in combat for the purpose of killing, injuring, or defeating an enemy.” (Britannica 2013). The Oxford English dictionary defines weapon as “An instrument of any
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I will discount failed states within this essay when I examine cases of state terrorism.

Defining Terrorism has been an on-going mission for many academics. The topic is deadlocked. Laqueur states that “More than a hundred definitions have been offered (including a few of my own) for the phenomenon” (Laqueur 1999). It is valid to argue that a definition for state terrorism is also problematic. As the main thrust of this essay is to examine how states have used terrorism as a weapon over the past 50 years, I will further define state terrorism when I examine if it is fundamentally different from non-state terrorism towards the conclusion of this essay. Though for now we must settle upon a definition of state terrorism to apply to cases that I will examine. I have chosen the definition provided by David Claridge, because it provides a good base to explore state actions and aggressions under a broad definition of state terrorism.

Claridge (1996) defines terrorism as:

“Terrorism is the systematic threat or use of violence, whether for, or in opposition to, established authority, with the intention of communicating a political message to a group larger than the victim group by generating fear and so altering the behaviour of the larger group. Either the victim or the perpetrator, or both, will be operating outside a military context; both will never be operating within a military context”

Within Claridge’s definition he argues

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