Essay on Is State Terrorism A Valid Concept?

Essay on Is State Terrorism A Valid Concept?

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Is “State terrorism” a valid concept?
The threat of global terrorism continues to rise with the total number of deaths reaching 32,685 in 2015, which is an 80 percent increase from 2014 (Global Index). With this said, terrorism remains a growing, and violent phenomenon that has dominated global debates. However, ‘terrorism’ remains a highly contested term; there is no global agreement on exactly what constitutes a terror act. An even more contested concept is whether to broaden the scope of terrorism to include non-state and state actors.
The concept of state terrorism is highly debated. The main opposition to state-terrorism declares that states have legitimate monopoly over violence, therefore, state-violence cannot be considered terrorism (Lacquer). Furthermore, conceptualizing particular properties of state-terrorism has furthered complicated the debate. For instance, should state-terrorism constitute external conflict or internal conflict; also is the normative strength of non-state violence as compelling as state use of force; or even, what types of state actions would be considered terrorism? The other side of the debate claims that state-terrorism is a valid concept. If terrorism is defined by the act instead of the actor, terrorism and state-terrorism are essentially the same thing. That is, both use indiscriminate forms of violence to create fear for the purpose of challenging or reinforcing the status quo (Berkeley).
As seen above, the debate regarding state-terrorism is politically controversial. With this consider and for clarity, this paper will only focus on the debate regarding the political normative and moral standards that restricts state actors and non-state actors from targeting non-combatants. For the sake ...


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...laws, set limits to state led violence against political opponents. Therefore, state violence could have elements of coercion to threaten and induce fear among their populations, which at times could be viewed as acceptable. Nevertheless, there is a lurking political umbrella of norms and morality that pressure states into adhering to international and domestics law. If not, the perpetrating state could face claims of illegitimate rule, international sanctions, foreign intervention and prosecution from the ICC. On the other hand, … Thus is why terrorism should be limited to non-state actors. As stated by Andrew Silke, “I cannot help but feel that state terrorism is actually a rhinoceros which has strayed close to our terrorism elephant. So while there are similarities between the two, they are ultimately two different creatures” (cited in Jarvis & Lester, 2014: 45).

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