• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Can terrorism ever be a legitimate and effective means of pursuing political goals?

Extracts from this document...


Word Count 3,100. Can terrorism ever be a legitimate and effective means of pursuing political goals? In politics there are many ways to implement change, in a democracy it is possible to change the existing system through elections, lobbying and petitioning. In a more authoritarian regime more extreme measures may be required to bring about change, such as a revolution or coup d'etat. However, when these methods are not possible or fail, many groups are left with terrorism as the only way to achieve their political goals. Most of these groups believe that their struggles are valid and their methods are necessary even though their attacks bring almost uniform condemnation from the international community. Before it is possible to examine how legitimate or justifiable terrorism is as a political tool it is vital to first find a working definition of it and to also see what the political aims are of those that use it often are. Smaller groups and organizations usually use terrorism when they believe there is no other way to achieve their aims. When a group are too small to effect change in a democracy or are not powerful enough to overthrow a totalitarian government either because they lack widespread support or because the regime is too strong then terrorism is often seen by the group as a justifiable means to pursue their goals. As well as a tool used by people against a state, terrorism is also a tool employed by certain governments to create a climate of fear and to therefore encourage obedience to their regime. Terrorism has been employed by a number of political regimes in this way, especially in the 20th century, which saw such brutal regimes as Hitler's Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin. ...read more.


There finances were extremely secured thanks to Bin Laden's wealth and their successful drug trade in Afghanistan and Al-Qaeda also had their own private militia, the oppressive fundamental Islam rulers of Afghanistan, the Taliban. It would no less despicable but perhaps more understandable if Al-Qaeda had remained active solely in the Middle East. However, it is their eagerness to attack countries thousands of miles away and their involvements in Islamic conflicts in countries like Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Algeria, Somalia and Sudan that make them seem even more detestable. As a group originally formed to fight an invading force they have evolved into a global organization intent on destroying the west and most of the Middle East. Their belief that they are legitimate soldiers (they declared war on the US in 1996) does nothing for the validity of their methods as their primary targets seem to be civilians, be they business people in New York or tourists in Bali. Therefore Al-Qaeda does seem to be a good case for the illegitimacy of terrorism. Their objectives seem impossible, such as waging war or 'jihad' against America (even an attack on the scale of 9/11 does nothing to damage a superpower of over 275 million people), and are carrying out painstakingly planned attacks on civilians. They could argue that their methods are the only way to achieve their aims but the mass murder of thousands of civilians does little to support the legitimacy of their claims. All terrorists believe that they are fighting for a just cause and that it is a lack of resources that force them to use terrorist methods. ...read more.


What all of them share is a willingness to sacrifice civilian lives for their causes. However, terrorism can never be a legitimate tool of political change even though sometimes it can be an effective one. The very nature of terrorism itself prevents it from being a legitimate tool. Without getting dragged down into semantics, the very word 'terrorism' denotes illegitimacy. Every writer on the subject who has tried to find his or her own definition of terrorism had labeled it illegitimate. Walter Laqueur labeled it the 'illegitimate use of force to achieve a political objective' and James M. Poland goes on to describe it as 'premeditated, deliberate, systematic murder'. Although in some cases you can appreciate what has driven a certain group to resort to terrorism, whether it is the Sandinistas fighting an authoritarian rule or the Tamil Tigers struggling for recognition in their own country, it is still clear that the tactics used by terrorism only prolong and increase the suffering. Even those groups like the NV are dangerous organizations as the political instability their actions can cause can have devastating effects, such as the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by the Black Hand that led to WWI. All terrorists have some ethnic, political, social, or religious justification for the acts they commit. To really assess whether or not something is justifiable and legitimate there must be some kind of basis for the justification. However, most terrorist acts seem just as illegitimate whether that judgment is based on international law, or simply most people's sense of morality. Therefore it is fair to say that if an act is considered legitimate, it is not usually considered as terrorism. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Middle east section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Middle east essays

  1. " One person's freedom fighter is another person's terrorist" is a common statement used ...

    Protection schemes, credit-card fraud, and diamond and drug smuggling are other possible sources of money (Bhatt, Sanjay). Donors sympathetic to al-Qaeda's mission-many from the Persian Gulf region and reportedly including disaffected members of the Saudi royal family-channel funds to the group.

  2. Beliefs - "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."

    What made her commit this "vicious act of terrorism" as described by George W. Bush. Hanadi Jaradat was a member of the Islamic Jihad, a small group of Muslims that fight to protect their religion. They fight for a number of things, but the emphasis is usually on change, whether it is political change, democratic change or even social change.

  1. Terrorism. What is terrorism? 2. Why do terrorists ...

    Their aims were to overthrow the government by using terror tactics. This was similar to terrorism being used against the government as the group was trying to overthrow the government by using urban terrorism. This all considered as terrorism because it was the killing of civilians to achieve a political

  2. Assess the relationship between the US and Iraq from 1970 to the present day.

    As the other conditions were not met, the UN extended the sanctions and by August 1995, his economy in state of collapse, Saddam's position was insecure. In December 1996, an impoverished Iraq was given permission to sell $2 million of oil every six months (extended to $5.3 million in 1998)

  1. Middle east conflict - There have been several attempts to bring peace to this ...

    We do not consider this so. We do not wish to tell them to leave." Including the refugees in finding a mechanism to implement their basic rights as part of the peace process is crucial yet has been avoided in the countless round tables on the Middle East.

  2. Poverty and Inequality causes terrorism - Discuss.

    America also built a military building on this area. This was just the reason that the Al Quida needed to take action against the west. But does the action America took in the war against Israel equal the devastation that the bombing caused?

  1. Can Terrorism Be Stopped?

    Mostly the popular belief of the tyranny of killing was especially developed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, assassination became both an ideological statement and a political weapon. The Bible says, "They that take the sword shall perish the sword."2 This quote from the Bible is trying to relate to

  2. Why was the World Trade Centre attacked by terrorists on 9/11?

    The .Muslim Brotherhood is one of the most influential political and religious forces in the Islamic world, and especially so in the Arab world.It often operates important networks of Islamic charities, guaranteeing it a support base among Muslim poor. Contrary to popular belief in the West, the Muslim Brotherhood normally

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work