Is Terrorism a Legitimate Form of Aggression?

Seems like terrorism, the general infliction of anxiety and terror on the populace, both civilian and military alike, has an historical precedence unmatched by other forms of warfare. There are multi-biblical references (Walls of Jerico etc) and even more in Greek and Roman legend (Trojan Horse etc). There is an almost honourable admiration of those who inflict terror on the whole of the population of a country/city-state, whatever - they are heroes.

I’m suspecting that terrorism is a legitimate genre of warfare. Taken with spying and the use of propaganda, it is ‘dirty-tricks’ stuff, but still legitimate.

So why is the US citing a ‘war on terrorism’ as something admirable? Why not just accept terrorism as a fact of life and go on about inflicting terror as your own form of aggression and accepting it, in turn, as your due? Instead, the self-proclaimed ‘war on terrorism’ implies that the US is not allowed to inflict terror in their own right without admitting to hypocrisy. Unless hypocrisy is your intent, which appears to be the case.

So you are arguing that America should be allowed to use terrorist tactics? We can count on your support?

So, Brutus you are saying the US is not using terrorist tactics? Bombing whole sectors instead of specific military targets, indiscriminate of civilian/military casualties is not terrorism?

All I ask is that the hypocrisy stop.

Sorry, but I fail to see in what way the walls of Jerico or the Trojan horse are related to terrorism. The first one is only using an efficient method to destroy the ennemy fortifications, the second a stratagem… :confused:

No, those are military atrocities, and possibly war crimes. They’re just as horrible, but they’re not terrorism.

I hate this modern tendancy to broaden the meaning of a popular term until it loses all meaning. Not every bad thing is terrorism! You can be a murderer nd an awful human being without being a terrorist!

OK, fine. Let’s play your silly game.

Assuming that today, at 12:00 Eastern, President Bush announces that hereforth, America shall employ terrorist tactics as seen fit. No more precision strikes, from now on it’ll be B-52s wingtip to wingtip, just leveling whole cities. Furthermore, America will no longer consider ‘terrorism’ ,as employed by various Islamist groups, to be a ‘special’ crime. America, under our new ‘Arafat Doctrine’, will begin the targeted bombings of Iranian and Saudi cafes in their own countries, and workers in this country.

So, like I said, we can count on your support then, right? After all, the ‘hypocrisy’ would have stopped, so you would turn your keen intellect to other problems, no?

Actually, under a true “Arafat Doctrine” the President would claim the B-52s acted independently and that he has no control over the Air Force.

The definitional problems are too many:

    • Terrorism
  • Legitimate

  • Aggression*.

You need fewer contentious terms before you can get a proper discussion going.

Heh, fair enough. Amend that to read:

(This is my first foray into GD. Please go easy on me)

I’d argue that a good example of the US using terrorisism was the ‘shock and awe tactics’ displayed at the start of the Iraq war. The goal was, well, to shock and awe the Iraqi population into compliance. This sounds a lot like terrorism to me.

The meaning of the word ‘terrorism’ seems to have changed over the years. Its original meaning was similar to Sisyphus’ Stone’s description - inflicting terror on a population. It now seems to mean something akin to guerilla warfare.

The ‘war on terrorism’ is just a name. Terrorism is not a country or ideology - it’s a tactic. Fighting a war against terrorism makes about as much sense as fighting a war against strafing. The ‘war on terrorism’ is, in fact, a war on certain groups who use have been known to use terrorism as a tactic.

No shot too cheap.

Looks like meats’ back on the menus, boys!

Err, nevermind…

‘Shock and Awe’ was targeted against Iraqi military targets and command infrastructure. If it were targeted at the civilian population, it would have been a day or two before Baghdad was just a pile of rubble; Rather, we took pains to avoid civilian casualties. (Witness the use of guided concrete bombs by the US and UK; Used to absolutely minimize the chances of collateral damage.)

Look at WW2. Then look at Iraq. If we launched an unrestricted bombing campaign on Iraq for 2 years before we sent troops in, well, I think things would be a bit different now. Less Iraqis, for one.

As sevastopol mentioned, we’re going to need a definition of ‘terrorism’. I’m using’s definition until someone comes up with something better:

(bolding mine)

So terrorism isn’t necessarily violence against a civilian population. It is possible to commit terrorist acts without killing a single person. They key point is the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, which was the whole point of ‘Shock and Awe’. The September 11 attacks weren’t terrorist attacks just because they involved killing civilians - they were terrorist attacks because they installed fear into the US people.

Ahh…a nostalgic return to the first balistic weapon - the rock.

The reason we have “rules” for fighting wars is not to make them more “fair”. It is to make it easier to transition to peace once the hostilities have ended.

On the other hand, all warfare does come down to a battle of wills between to opponents and demoralizing your enemy is a valid strategy. But, history has shown us that randomly bombing a populous only tends to strengthen their resolve so terrorism (as defined as random attacks against civilians) is not particularly effective.

A little reminder:

  1. The invasion by the USA of a sovereign nation - an thid covers ever act done by the invading army upto this day - is clearly an act of terrorism.
  2. The USA has it very own terrorist organisation, better known as the CIA.
    However, the USA is not alone in this. Several nations have similar organisations.
  3. The ridiculous “War on Terror” rethoric is based on the hypocrite arrogance that while the USA has its own terrorist organisation ( and other nations can have theirs) the USA claims that others -selected by the USA and not even funded by a nation like the CIA is - can not do the same because they are not Made In USA or in countries from which the USA accepts the state funded and state organized terrorist organisations as legitimate means for defending, endorsing and protecting a nation’s interests.

The difference between those who are seen as legitimate by the USA and those who are labelled “terrorists” is the fact that the latter are not recognisable as endorsed, funded, trained and financed by a nation.
They represent (a variety of) ideology/political goals that can not be linked to the interests of one single nation, but only to the various ideological/political goals they represent.

Every debate about this and how “legitimate” such tactics are, always comes back to the same: What is endorsed by the US (and its allies or those who can sell their state funded terrorism as legitimate) seems to be seen as legitimate, what goes against this is labelled “terrorism”.

If I blow up a building in the USA, killing dozens of people and claim that this is done because of some ideology, because of my own interests or even because of my countries interests, I am labelled a terrorist.
If I am US citizen and a member of the CIA and I blow up a similar building somewhere outside the USA, killing the same amount of people because that serves no matter which interest of the USA, I am not a terrorist. I am a hero serving my nation.

Salaam. A

I’ll let you in on a little secret, Aldeberan. If the United States ever really decides to engage in terrorist tactics rather than your deluded and, frankly, silly interpretation of same, you’ll know. Everyone will know.

As to the OP, the answer is “no.” Hope that helps.

Yea, when America decides to do terrorism, they don’t blow up buildings - they blow up cities. Much more effective.

I hold the belief that ‘terrorism’ is the modern-day equivalent of ‘communism’ - a largely meaningless label that the US can put on its enemies. Sure, those words did originally have precise meanings, but those meanings have very little to do with the current connotations.

Aldebaran, could you please come up with a cite of the CIA using terrorist tactics? I’d argue that the US armed forces are a more accurate example of terrorists. Unless, of course, you used ‘terrorism’ in the more contemporary sense of the word - sabotage, guerilla warfare, killing civilians, etc.

Um, Communism was and still is a system of government used by very specific groups with somewhat specific goals. “Terrorism” is a method of psychological warfare.

School. Of. The. Americas.


It’s hard to say both because fanatics tend to justify any means against the “aggressor”, and occupying powers tend to write the “rules” of warfare in their favor. Remember when guerrillas were referred to as “bandits” by the people they were fighting against?

There was a time when submarine warfare- torpedoing a ship without warning them and giving them time to man the lifeboats!! - was considered a barbarity.