The Meaning of Terrorism

Essay by GIJaneUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, November 2004

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Terrorism has many different meanings for people around the world, but the key notion of inflicting panic on people is universal. Terrorism is never an accident; it is the deliberate creation and exploitation of fear for brining about political change. All terrorist acts involve violence or the threat of violence. It is the fear of this act that has power to appeal to change. By undermining confidence in the government and political leadership of their target, terrorist attempt to spread panic. It is premeditated to have mental effects that surpass the initial impact on the victims or objects of an attack.

Anthony Valls defines terrorism as "violence committed by non-state actors against person or property for political purposes." I agree that this definition can be used for must terrorist acts, but not all. Evidence shows that Iraq's way of fighting sometimes embodies terrorist acts. American bombs are deliberately programmed to miss non military targets; Iraq silkworm missiles are launched indiscriminately into Kuwait City. Valls definition is a representation of the double standard between states and non-states. I believe the actions of the military in Iraq are no accidents. By bombing indiscriminately, they instill a immense sense of fear in their opponents' minds because they show that they are ready and willing to do whatever it takes to be victorious.

It is true that terrorist violence always aims to send a message to someone, but people send threatening messages everyday. What is it about these messages that make them stand out from the rest? I believe it is more than just the message that makes it terrorism. Frightening and intimidating a wider audience is also an important key to their motivation. America sends out messages constantly to other countries that induce fear, but as Americans we don't label...