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Chapter

Cover Contemporary Terrorism Studies

14. Can States Be Terrorists?  

Kieran McConaghy

This chapter discusses how states use political violence and asks whether this sort of action could be considered terrorism or not. It lists the core points of study related to state acts of violence. These include instances of threatened acts of violence, state approval of violent acts, and the psychological impact of state and non-state acts of violence. State terrorism has become marginalized because the focus has been primarily on certain types of non-state political violence. States frequently sponsor or assist violent groups internationally when such acts serve their foreign policy objectives. The chapter examines examples of governments taking advantage of state terrorism. This tends to happen in totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, but also with colonial powers and liberal democracies too. The chapter clarifies how an accurate definition of terrorism is dependent on intent, which is difficult to determine for state and non-state actors.

Chapter

Cover Contemporary Terrorism Studies

11. Can Terrorism Be Rational?  

Max Abrahms

This chapter looks into the rationality of terrorism. It starts off by looking into the paradox of terrorism. Political scientists typically view terrorists as rational political actors. However, empirical research on terrorism suggests that terrorism is in fact an ineffective political tactic. Evidence indicates that in instances where there has been terrorist attacks on civilians, governments rarely grant concessions. This might explain why terrorism is often selected as a tactic only if alternative options are no longer viable. The chapter uses Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State as case studies to examine broader patterns of terrorism. Knowing the priority of terrorists is vital for governments when considering counterterrorism actions. Having an understanding of the grievances of terrorists helps political actors predict which targets the terrorists will attack.

Chapter

Cover Contemporary Terrorism Studies

9. What Are the Root Causes of Terrorism?  

Nick Brooke

This chapter explores the accuracy and validity of the root causes of terrorism. Following the wake of recent terrorist acts and campaigns, the public, media, and policymakers seek to understand the reason behind terrorism. The chapter mentions the difficulty of scholars trying to pin down root causes. It looks into controversies related to academic attempts to explain terrorism. Martha Crenshaw identifies preconditions and precipitants as the causes for terrorism. Tore Bjørgo categorizes structural, facilitator, motivational, and triggering causes. The chapter lists the political and structural roots of terrorism ranging around nationalism, religious extremism, education, and poverty. Another method when analysing the root causes of terrorism is to consider terrorism as a response to state behaviour.

Book

Cover Contemporary Security Studies

Edited by Alan Collins

Contemporary Security Studies provides an introduction to Security Studies. It features a wide breadth and depth of coverage of the different theoretical approaches to the study of security and the ever-evolving range of issues that dominate the security agenda in the twenty-first century. In addition to covering a large range of topical security issues, from terrorism and inter-state armed conflict to cyber-security, health, and transnational crime, the sixth edition features an examination of popular culture and its implications for security, as well as coverage of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout, readers are encouraged to question their own preconceptions and assumptions, and to use their own judgement to critically evaluate key approaches and ideas. To help them achieve this, each chapter is punctuated with helpful learning features including ‘key ideas’, ‘think points’ and case studies, demonstrating the real-world applications and implications of the theory.