The word terrorism was coined during the French Revolution in the late 1780’s, and it was used to identify the conduct portrayed by revolutionaries. Terrorism in its definition is the threatened use of violence for achieving the economic, political, ideological or religious aims (White, 2014). This phenomenon is considered illegal by both the laws of war and the anti-terrorism laws as it is targeted on non-combatants to cause fear and panic. Despite the rise in counteractive measures to fight terrorism, the world is still a step behind when it comes to the immediate response to the terrorist activities and their perpetrators. It is only the global collaboration that can bring terrorism to an end, as otherwise people risk being victims of terror attacks time and time again. The paper aims at critically reviewing the two chapters as well as criticizing the position of the author of the book Terrorism and Homeland Security.
American preparedness in the recent past has been focused on fighting independent major wars while, at the same time, maintaining continental defense. However, Barrack Obama’s policies have been aimed at achieving conflict resolution and have been carried out so as to concentrate more on matters of the fight against terrorism (White, 2014). Although terrorism is said to have many definitions, the depth and understanding of the real meaning of the term is yet to be established. The world, however, has shifted to acknowledge that all acts of terrorism are aimed at disruption of peace to achieve political mileage (White, 2014).
The definition of terrorism is well delineated by the social contexts of different practices of terror. Many governments and scholars have acknowledged the devastating effects that the phenomenon causes through acts of violence but cannot properly define what terrorism is. Terrorism has been observed to change with political tides as it began with government repression during the French Revolution but later transformed into guerrilla tactics during the Napoleonic Wars. The term was later used in the 19th century when communities of the Soviet Union used the tactics to conquer the population (White, 2014).
The meaning of the term ‘terrorism’ underwent the transformation after Napoleon’s invasion of Spain in 1807. Partisans gathered in small groups started to attack French troops in an unconventional manner. They never engaged in a real battle war but they could murder French soldiers, steal or destroy the supplies and participate in the hit and run battle tactics. The Spanish referred to the partisans as real patriots whereas the French called them terrorists. The acts shifted the conventional meaning of terrorism from being governments subjugation to resistance by a group of people to policies against the government (White, 2014).
Violent anarchism was conceived after a number or anarchists were associated with brutal actions famously known as “propaganda of the deed”. Most anarchists believed that society was the primary determinant of structural violence, and that violence as a means of self-defense would solve the problem. The invention of dynamite contributed significantly to the adoption of violent acts in the fight for equality between the supreme leaders and the middle class (White, 2014).
Modern terrorism emanated with a series of revolutionary actions that happened in the past as a result of peoples’ will and led to the Russian revolution. However, even after power seizure by the communists, they used acts of terrorism employed by the French revolutionaries to maintain the political power (White, 2014).
The Black and Tan War was the perfect description of modern day terrorism. According to White (2014), Michael Collins after being released from prison believed that selective terror would be the key to a successful uprising. He felt that organization, ruthlessness and being systematic was the main point. Collins reviewed the writings of previous anarchists and terrorists and later on developed a strategy ‘selective terrorism’ (White, 2014). The author believed that for terrorism to be effective, it has to target security forces and their symbols of authority. After the process of recruiting, organizing and planning, Collins learned the internal operations of police officers and using this, he conducted devastating attacks on the British. The terrorists could throw bombs and shoot police officers (White, 2014). The trained military army sent to control Collins’ attacks was known as the Black and Tans, and this led to the Black and Tan war.
Sociologists believe that the formation of terrorist groups may be a result of the rejection of western ideals. While the Westerns are concerned about modernity, the Islamic world is based on the rejection of western ideals of modernization (White, 2014). Social scientists believe that terrorist organizations are based on meanings that are subjective and the strategies that are used to destabilize these organizations should involve vigorous effort to introduce frameworks having an alternate definition
The theory of action asserts that there is an ideological desire for change in the mind of every terrorist. It further explains that all terrorists are unsatisfied with the state of the world and are willing to sacrifice their lives to change the current situation. The theory of action gave rise to anti-terrorism which is a movement to combat acts of terror to avoid the implications that terrorists threat the real world (White, 2014).
Structural framework is a social science traditional to all groups that are already organized because they belong to a social structure that functions in a certain way. The social geometry explains that certain groups react to the relationships they have with other groups. It reveals that terrorist groups are not violent unless provoked to do so. However, it is explained that the structures that hold up the societal groups may be violent (White, 2014).
Marxist theories explain that conventional wisdom of modern societies will significantly lead to the reduction of religious identity among people (White, 2014). However, a shift towards the opposite direction is the actual situation. An empirical study carried out revealed that the terrorist acts experienced are mainly a result of religious feelings and not resurge anything as many people claim (White, 2014).
Terrorism is seen as practical criminology due to its origins tracing back to Cesare Beccaria. Practical criminology focuses on the collective activities of offenders. Law enforcers are supposed to distinguish ordinary criminal activities and terrorist activities. Terrorists are believed to have belief systems, organization, and values that motivate them to carry out terrorist activities. These practices differentiate them from ordinary law offenses.
Terrorists are believed to be different from regular criminals as a result of their motivation and loyalty to a particular course. Ordinary criminals are, however, opportunistic and hopeful. Terrorists make use of violence to negotiate or pass messages concerning some political cause.
Radicalization is the process by which people or groups of people adopt extremism behavior concerning the social, political or religious beliefs and reject the normality of events in any given society. This phenomenon is based on the view that individuals or groups of individuals cannot be in a position to tolerate a given condition, state or political situation for any longer. The rebellious views often lead to violence and little or no success chances. The terrorist ideology is that terror will correct the political injustices and restore logical action (White, 2014).
Lone wolf attacks result from a person who commits violent attacks outside any command of any given terrorist group (White, 2014). Despite influence by an external group, lone wolf attackers always act on their consent and are motivated purely by their sole motives. The anti-terrorism finds it difficult to gather information about lone wolfs, as they are the only people with the attack information and the target plans.
Critics and Suggestions
The author in chapter one depicts terrorism as a positive event while, at the same time, justifying reasons why the terrorism can be deemed necessary in some situations. The writer regards the initial terrorist attacks not to be harmful, yet they all led to violence despite the sugar coating that is portrayed. The violent anarchism in chapter one is probably the reason for the transformation of the terrorist perception as later viewed in chapter two. This is due to the introduction of explosions which were used by Collins in his revolt against the Irish soldiers.
The author explains the change in terrorism with political shifts and ideologies which are important as they explain how the terrorist groups have existed from the French Revolution till our time. The political changes, therefore, explain that there is a probable chance that the terror activities experienced in the present day may focus on other issues and not religion as currently portrayed.
Terrorism is probably the biggest threat that the world is currently facing, especially in matters security. Fighting extremism and radicalization is not bearing fruits so quickly and, therefore, the terrorist leaders have a fortune from the increased recruitments. However, the alteration of perspective of terrorism is essential for any given country to determine the actual drive towards the violent acts. If the political mayhem that leads to terrorism uproars can be avoided, then hesitation is not a part of people’s options as otherwise they risk losing a generation.