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After reading Martha Crenshaw’s essay on The Causes of Terrorism, thoughts were provoked that allowed me to look at the causes of terrorism from an entirely new perspective. It took my preconceived notions and feelings towards terrorism out of the picture and really let me look at the subject from a balanced point of view. I found this appealing because I have never been able to comprehend how there could be rational justifications to such a harsh reality. It really motivated me to try and understand more about such a complex subject.
This essay explained settings for terrorism, reasons for terrorism, and individual motivation and participation. All three of which made me think of the America before the constitution, before equal rights were assured to all individuals. These privileges did not come for free; we had to fight for them.
In settings for terrorism, the author talked about subgroups of larger populations that may be discriminated against, or suppressed and not given equal opportunity for political participation. These particular situations may be conducive to terrorist organization and activity. These were some of the same settings for the causes of wars in America’s history, from the American Revolution, to the Civil War. During the American Revolution fighters for their cause were not looked at as terrorist although they did participate in, what was considered at that time to be, unconventional warfare which most consider today to be a personality of terrorism.
Reasons for terrorism are more complex. One intention of a terrorist organization may be to provoke a counter reaction from the government, to increase publicity for the terrorists’ cause, and to demonstrate that criticism of the regime is well founded. The terrorists mean to force the state to show its true repressive face, thereby driving the people into the arms of the challengers. September 11, 2001 was an excellent example of this.
After the attacks, Americans were outraged and emotional. Action had to be taken to revenge the lives lost and to ensure our national security. Everyone seemed vulnerable now, more than ever. America’s fight against terrorism led to the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and at the same time America tried to spread democracy in, previously, undemocratic countries.
The intention of the Al Qaeda to strike fear in their target population was only the beginning of what they were able to accomplish. Al Qaeda showed the world that their criticism of America’s attempt to force democracy throughout the world was true.
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