What do you think causes terrorism?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by rhsgolfer33, May 3, 2007.

  1. rhsgolfer33 macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    I've been doing some extensive reading and studying on this and was wondering what the opinion of the people over here at MR was. I've formed my own opinion on the issue but am in wonderment over what others think. So, what do you think causes terrorism? And this is not just limited to middle eastern terrorism as terrorism occurs everywhere.
     
  2. zimv20 macrumors 601

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    #2
    simple: disenfranchisement, then having no other means at one's disposal to bring about change.
     
  3. Lovesong macrumors 65816

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    In all honesty, from a historical perspective, it's really the need to have a voice. Perhaps the first "true" terrorists were the Nihilists in Russia, who managed to assasinate Alexander II. Their cause was not one for wanting of power, or voting rights, or land. Their act was a statement to those who are in power, or are at least perceived as being more powerful, that the cause for which their acts are done must be heard (I think I lost myself).

    Today, politicians have managed to put a single word to describe the reason behind terrorism- I think they refer to it as "fundamentalism." Be it Christian, Muslim, radical separatist, or whathave you, the fact is that people with strong beliefs in their cause, who happen to not have any power to excercise them, will resort to terrorism to make their point, and bring attention to their views.

    It's kind of like a reality show- the weird one that is always ready to do something to bring attention to themselves usually get the most camera time.
     
  4. OldCorpse macrumors 65816

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    Your number one problem is going to be definition. One man's terrorist is quite often liable to be another man's hero fighting the good fight. At one time or another, many liberation movements were called terrorist. The Nazis called f.ex. the French resistance "terrorists". But to the French, their fighters were heros. In WWII Germany, domestic German Anti-Nazi groups also were called that, but after the war, Germans changed their minds and these groups were called heros. The colonial British called the black liberation fighters Mau Mau in Kenya "terrorists", while black Kenyans called them anti-colonial liberators. The U.S. routinely labelled "terrorist" various liberation movements or movements fighting for social justice, all over the world from Central America, South America to Africa and Asia, while their local populations saw them as liberators or fighers for justice. The same can be seen today with regard to various Palestinian groups such as Hamas - Israel and the U.S. find it convenient to label them "terrorists" while to most in the Arab world, they are freedom fighters fighting against the occupation of their homeland. Exactly the same thing is happening in Iraq today. The U.S. routinely refers to "terrorists" in Iraq, while they are seen as heros fighting the invading crusaders. Even Al-Quada which in the West is seen universally as "terrorists", are not seen so by significant parts of the Muslim world, but instead is seen as protectors of Islam.

    That said, there are a few things in common. In 90+% (not 100%) of the cases, they arise as a result of desperate injustice (real or imagined). They are extremely weak militarily - which is why they resort to "terrorism" - so, lack of weapons and armies "causes" terrorism, when the need is overwhelming but the conventional military means are not available. If you are a Palestinian who is a penniless man in a refugee camp, and you see your mother beaten by an Israeli soldier, and your father humiliated in front of his entire family, and your sister raped, and your land stolen, and your people screaming in pain... well, there's nothing in the world that can stop your sense of injustice and you must, must, must fight, and you don't care one iota about your life, because such a life is not worth living. But you have no airplane to drop bombs on the occupiers. You have no tank to ride. You would be crushed in an instant if you confronted this powerful enemy - just as a lone Jew would be crushed trying to confront the Nazi army. Yet, not fighting is not an option. So, you'll strike the only way you can - by subterfuge, or a suicidal attack, using your very body as a way to equalize. That's it, in a nutshell.
     
  5. pknz macrumors 68020

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  6. EricNau Moderator emeritus

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    #6
    People's inability to accept/respect other cultures/religions.
     
  7. solvs macrumors 603

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    #7
    Frustration. Read my signature. Lays it out pretty well.
     
  8. miloblithe macrumors 68020

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    #8
    Political will. A belief in violence. A lack of power.
     
  9. Ugg macrumors 68000

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  10. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

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    And as we're seeing with al-Qaeda, young people with little education and no jobs and nothing positive to do are easily swayed by terrorist leaders. They have no purpose for being, nothing to believe in, and the terrorist leader gives them one.

    That's a big part of it, at least in the case of Muslim terrorists. The leader doesn't do much except plot and send others out to do his dirty work. Here in the U.S. it seems to work differently. Timothy McVeigh came up with his plan in his own feverish little head and carried it out with only one (known) accomplice.

    As far as what makes the leaders do it...pretty much what zim said. But I think mental instability is a factor. Plenty of people are disenfranchised without believing that violence against total strangers is the solution to their problem. (That train of "logic" alone shows you how insane they are.)
     
  11. skunk macrumors G4

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    #11
    Actually, that's not true. Many suicide bombers have good educations, as did many of the 9/11 guys.
     
  12. Swarmlord macrumors 6502a

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    They used all them up though. Their recruitment pool is now the young.
     
  13. miloblithe macrumors 68020

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    #13
    I think that assuming that future terrorists fit a specific demographic profile is a mistake. They aren't all going to be x, y, and z. Assuming that they are gives would be terrorists who don't fit that profile an advantage.
     
  14. j26 macrumors 65832

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    #14
    Historically many "terrorist" organisations have been led or strongly swayed by intellectuals

    Cuba - J26M - Castro & Guevara
    Ireland - IRA - Patrick Pearse
    Mexico - EZLN - Subcomandante Marco
    Viietnam - Viet Minh - Ho Chi Minh
    I could go on, but you get the idea
     
  15. princealfie macrumors 68030

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    #15
    Economic oppression by superdominant powers (supposedly so) is the root cause. That's why they react as such.
     
  16. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #16
    pa, that holds for some movements, but certainly not for Al Qaida. OBL's family, Saudis, are/were billionaires; he's an engineer, I've read, and started with a personal fortune of some $250 million. He has said that the profanation of holy soil by the presence of infidels was a prime motivation.

    It seems to me that a key motivator is a contempt for other people. They are merely "things", to be manipulated by the use of fear. How else does one kill anybody who's not initiated some harm to the killer?

    'Rat
     
  17. OldCorpse macrumors 65816

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    Hmm. By that definition, every single war in history which had civilian casualties has been a terrorist exercise. After all, in every single war a soldier kills people he doesn't know who have not harmed him personally, nor intended to harm him. When you drop bombs on civilain areas, and accept ahead of time that there will be innocent civilian life lost (so called collateral damage), then you fall under that definition.

    Also, by that definition, I guess we should immediately cease to call many Iraqi insurgents "terrorists" - as long as they are killing U.S. soldiers. U.S. soldiers are in Iraq occupying that land, and they are armed soldiers, who bring death and destruction, they are NOT civilians. So, any attack against soldiers cannot be "terrorism" right? If you still say: "attacks against soldiers are terrorist attacks" then all wars, even those without a single civilian casualty, since they all involve soldiers must be called "terrorist".

    And by the way, terrorists always say that their targets intend them harm. AQ would claim that all Americans are responsible for America's decades long crimes against Muslims in the Middle East - and so, America intends to harm, and does harm Muslims and so they are deserving of being bombed - and so under your definition AQ is now NOT a terrorist organization? How funny, indeed, many muslims all over the world DO NOT believe AQ is a terrorist organization. And interestingly enough Americans think in exactly the same way. We held ALL Iraqis responsible for the (invented WMD and invented AQ links) crimes of a few, when we bombed Iraq resulting in tens of thousands of dead Iraqis (directly dead because of our actions). How is that "collective responsibility" justification different for when AQ claims it, since we claim the exact same thing? Of course, AQ killed some 3K Americans using that justification, while we killed - directly - tens of thousands of Iraqis using that exact same justification. By that definition we are the bigger terrorists - plus Iraq posed no danger to us, and the dead civilians intended no harm to us.

    Which is why I said in my first post: "the number one problem you're going to have, is that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter".
     
  18. TequilaBoobs macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    human nature - us vs. them - terrorist vs. freedom fighter
     
  19. xsedrinam macrumors 601

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    True. But I see the question as a seeking for any common denominators. Settling on a definition of terrorism might also be a challenge.

    If one goes with how The FBI defines terrorism as "the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives", then there would have to be a common ground of frustration, anger and arbitrary rejection of a perceived oppressor and any existing process (considered civil) on how to deal with such.

    When attempts at negociation or entering in to a recognized political process fail, the subversion or eradication of the existence of the perceived oppressor becomes an agenda.

    One cannot exclude the highly educated from their ranks and/or the influence of ideologies and their contribution in the formation of their rationale.

    In short, one common denominator would be that a terrorist has given up on the hope that any existing process, person or platform will respond to affect change. Their perceived enemy is guilty and must be brought to justice and all props which serve to sustain such injustice should be brought down.

    The short made shorter, perceived injustice, and perceived measures necessary to eradicate those perceived injustices would be one factor.
     
  20. zimv20 macrumors 601

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    #20
    seems we've arrived at the same definition:
     
  21. yojitani macrumors 68000

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    #21
    Not to knock an attempt to get conversation started, but if you've been reading extensively, how are we going to answer this question on a forum? There are books on the subject!

    I think that definitions cause terrorism - without someone defining it, how are we going to know what it is? Not being facetious here, but you know not even various department in the US govt can agree what terrorism is. In fact, I'd say that labeling a group as 'terrorists' - even a group as nefarious as al qaeda - is counter productive if you actually want to put an end to it.
     
  22. xsedrinam macrumors 601

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    No doubt, because I was born in Chicago. ;)
     
  23. NavyIntel007 macrumors 65816

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  24. xsedrinam macrumors 601

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  25. mactastic macrumors 68040

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    #25
    Ah yes, DC. The hotbed of terrorism...
     

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