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Debate Over Root Causes Of Terrorism

Jan 20, 2008
Bruce Hoffman, in his book Inside Terrorism, devoted an entire chapter just to the definition of the word TERRORISM. In an attempt to formulate a workable definition he consulted everything. Part of the difficulty in defining the word, Hoffman pointed out is its inconsistent application, and opposing views.

William Boykin, who led the hunt for Osama bin Laden said it was the fight against Satan, This sort of hubris hardly different from Osama bin Laden claiming a holy mission to rid the world of infidels. It is a tendency in politically oriented Western societies to assume that there is a rational pragmatic cause for acts of terrorism.

However, if the political grievances are addressed properly, the problem will fade. The terrorism roots are not always political and can not be separated from other factors (Bar, 2004).

Terrorists increasingly look at their acts of death and destruction as sacramental or transcendental on a spiritual level. The pragmatic reservations of secular terrorists do not hold back religious terrorists because secular terrorists may view indiscriminate violence as immoral. For Religious terrorists violence may not be only morally justified but constitutes a religious and necessary advancement of authoritarian in nature and personality.
Causes and contributing factor are apparently no such thing as a typical terrorist, there are some contextual factors that seem to contribute to the transition of a group of individuals into a terrorist group.

Beyond the psychological makeup of the persons involved, the most commonly discussed factors-not root causes- are politics, economics, religion, and culture.

The poverty connection is a popular misconception that terrorism springs from poverty. Therefore, bringing development to a region will provide a panacea. Within countries, the group that rise to terrorist movements usually are relatively disadvantaged because of class, ethnic, or religion.

At the individual level, the leaders of militant movements are better educated and of higher status than most of the population from which they come. Politics and Policies are political aims and motives are integral to the definition of what constitutes terrorism.

Therefor, naturally discontent regarding government policies, historical precedents and national identity often lay the foundation for terrorist activity. Such discontent is not all groups such discontent is not predictive, however, in the choose to act or react with terrorist activity.

To reiterate, the changing world of terrorism may occur anywhere. Terrorism in most common not in poor or rich nations-as in undeveloped or developed-but those in the middle of developing, and undergoing a rapid transformation.

This generally includes modernization, for as countries become part of a global economy they must adopt the tools of the modern business world to be competitive. This does not mean that globalization causes terrorism. Rather, it elicits and magnifies the human tendency to distrust an dislike that which is new and foreign.

Religion and Fanaticism is a supreme irony that religious extremism fuels so many of the conflicts that lead to terrorism. Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, and members of many other religions have all committed terrorists acts.

Yet, not one of these religions advocates murder. Terrorism is not the guiding principle of any formal religion. And yet ideologies have been used time and time again to legitimize heinous acts.
About the Author
Leon Newton is Professor of Political Science and author of the book Terrorism 101 A Library Reference And Selected Annotated Bibliograpy.
http://www.outskirtspress.com/terrorism101
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