POLI SCI 244: WP chap. 10 - terrorism

  1. terrorism
    use or threatened use of premeditated politically motivated violence against noncombatant targets by subnational groups
  2. Are terrorists rational
    Although we might not agree with their purposes and think of terrorists as "irrational," rationality really refers to purposeful behavior or strategies used to achieve their goals.

    • They are rational about attacking - attack depending on how well they are defended, chances of success, and potential political impact
    • Ex: sites are harder to destroy, so upgrade to "smart" bombs (ppl)

    not really rational for the individual b/c the cost is much greater (life) but then why do ppl enlist in the military and sacrifice themselves --> cause

    • usually targets are missions of business/diplomacy - emblem of a states power
    • but also random selections incite a lot more fear - dont know where they will strike, increase effect - put pressure on gov't
  3. Why do terrorists attack civilians and official / gov't buildings instead of the military
    The attackers are weaker than the target (cant defeat the military outright - no resources, small, poorly armed)

    --> aim to inflict pain and suffering on target population so as to induce political change
  4. Why do extremists usually employ terrorism. What are extremists?
    extremists - their interests are not widely shared, so it is hard to convince others of their beliefs, probably will resist having beliefs imposed on them

    --> use violence to coerce concessions or somehow tip status quo in their favor
  5. Why is it difficult for a state to defeat terrorists

    - structure
    - location (EX)
    they form networks of small, loosely connected cells (dont share information so that if one branch is hit, others are not affected)

    • Hide in larger population, difficult to isolate - any attempt to eliminate will inflict collateral damage
    • live either in
    • - sympathetic populations (if not too extreme, can live in/be supported by pop that agrees (or cant oppose) beliefs)
    • - or corrupt, failed state EX: Al - Qaeda in Sudan
  6. Why do terrorists use violence? What is terrorism by nature

    Why do they continue to use violence today? EX:
    Terrorism is bargaining. Violence because of bargaining failures

    Use violence to gain concessions

    • --> They continue because they have learned that it works
    • A main goal of 9/11 attacks was to get the US out of the Arabian peninsula - worked.
  7. Terrorism from Incomplete information

    - what incentives to represent?
    - effectiveness of attacks depends on what?
    - why is credibility hard to achieve?
    It is hard to get information on terrorist groups, and threats are easy to make - sometimes produce concessions, so they have incentives to misrepresent / bluff

    Effectiveness of attacks depends on element of surprise - cant reveal true capabilites / strategies beforehand

    • - because they use bluffing, - (boy who cried wolf)
    • - also because they are secretive orgs, so hard to signal actual commitment to cause ex- US had info from Al Qaeda before attacks, didnt take seriuosly
  8. Terrorism from commitment problems

    how might they make credible threats ... but...
    • lack of credibility - targets have to judge how trustworthy the leadership is / if they can control their extremists
    • (concessions are only worth something if they prevent future attacks - if there is an attack, no point of granting anything

    could make credible threat by disarming, publicly renouncing terror, and giving outside access,

    but, how do they know targets will keep their side if they do/

    difficult to commit to peace
  9. 2 Main causes of terrorism
    incomplete info, lack of credible commitments
  10. 4 main strategies of terrorism, Examples
    coercion - target doesnt know groups capabilites - attack to make threat of future attacks credible EX: sunni / shiite attacks on US forces in Iraq

    provocation - provoke to strike counter attack (almost always has collateral damage)- ensure home pop. that target state is a threat to them -> increase support (Israels counterstrikes against Palestine turned all arabs in middle east against them, their response to second uprising (2000) led to the election of Hamas)

    Spoiling - spoil prospective peace between target and moderate leadership from home. (cant judge leadership, so targets wait for an attack to break it off, try to make target doubt whether home can keep future peace agreements.) Ex: Hamas attacks before 2001 Israeli elections

    Outbidding - attack target to outbid other competing network, aiming to get support at home. Ex: Fatah and Hamas attacks on Israel to demonstrate credentials to an uncertain pop.
  11. What are some methods of preventing terrorism, what are the downfalls of each
    Deterrence - threaten massive retaliation. BUT - hard to identify specific spot to attack (hide in big pops), retaliation builds them support, threat of retaliation is not very credible - would have to kill many civilians

    Defensive measures - increase homeland security (airport security, fortify embassies abroad ...) EX: israel constructed a wall btw them and palestine - increase the cost to attackers. BUT ... defensive measures are expensive - US budget is 47 bill. / and limited effectiveness - terrorists choose sites based on how hard they are to attack

    Criminalization - pursue specific individuals and groups - hope to disrupt groups and deter future attacks. BUT - reactive (afterwards), and requires international cooperation - not all countries have the same interests (some are sympathetic with goals -(Afghanistan w. Taliban), or too weak to fight off - (Somalia)

    Preemption - states attack beforehand to try to disrupt / destroy terrorists (US against states that may possess WMDs), also expand intelligence gathering - BUT surveillance (needs to be constant) is expensive, likely to impede liberties of civilians. Might threaten other states. EX: US expands war on terror to Iraq for thinking they have terrorists...other states think they will be attacked if suspected of harboring terrorists

    Negotiations and compromises over differences - BUT more prone to error - cant reduce problem, also states dont want to recognize sub-state groups (esp. advocating violence) as equals - few negotiations, but they do happen.
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POLI SCI 244: WP chap. 10 - terrorism