My Definition of Terrorism
Length: 329 words (0.9 double-spaced pages)
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I agree with Moeller in that terrorism is distinguished from other forms of violence in that “The victims and the intended audience of a terrorist act are not the same,”1 and “the psychological impact of a terrorist act is intended to be greater than the physical damage caused. The goal of terrorism is to send a message, not defeat the enemy.”2 Additionally, in regards to Moeller’s questions of whether terrorism is a tactic or ideology, terrorism is purely a tactic among many others, not an ideology at all.
I do not believe that actions can be crimes or acts of war. Those are purely interpretations of those reacting to events. In some jurisdictions, terrorism is a crime. At least one nation has chosen to consider it an act of war. I consider these judgments to be separate from the definition of the action. Similarly, the usage of transnational pre-emptive force is irrelevant to a definition.
I disagree with Moeller in her assertion that terrorism is targeted at civilians. Terrorism can be targeted at military troops as well, as they are a population. Whenever the nature of an attack is to invoke fear over causing direct damage, it qualifies as terrorism.
My definition is broad, encompassing many actions not always considered terrorism, and seeks to avoid entangling terrorism with other topics.
Moeller, Susan. 2009. Packaging Terrorism; Co-opting the News for Politics and Profit. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.
(Note: Most material in explanation of definition draws from Moeller, but as it would be troublesome to cite every paragraph the same thing, only the direct quotations are cited, and this note is here to tell you that the rest is responding to Moeller as well.)
1Moeller, Susan. 2009. Packaging Terrorism; Co-opting the News for Politics and Profit. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell. Page 18.
2Ibid. Page 18.