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Posted on September 9th, 2012, by

Terrorism is a serious problem of contemporary society. Many counties live under constant threat of actions of terror. Detailed study of terrorism may be useful for better understanding of its mechanism. It is important to defined terrorism in order to investigate its causes.

There are a lot of definitions of terrorism and each definition illustrates separate aspects of this phenomenon. Political violence is one of the distinguishing features of terrorism. At the same time there are a lot of cases when the actions of the entire countries can be regarded as political violence. It is also important to note that not only actions but also threats can be regarded as terrorism. The most general definition of terrorism, to my mind, will be violent actions or threats which have political goals. These two main distinguishing features of terrorism are presented in almost all definitions. These features are violence and political motivation of terrorists.

Ā Gus Martin defines terrorism as “enduringly conducted struggle for political goals, which are intended to be achieved by means of assaults on the life and property of other persons, especially by means of severe crimes”¯ and “”¦the use of the threatened use, of cohesive group of persons of violence (short of warfare) to effect political aims”¯ (Martin, 2006, p. 46). All these definitions are suitable for terrorist groups.

Till recent time the definition of terrorist state was not implemented in common use. So, terrorism was contrasted to any state regime and implied non-state actions. Gus Martin insists that at the present moment there are terrorist states which are even more dangerous than terrorist groups as they take lives of many people and justify their actions by states policy. This question needs a detailed investigation and study because the scale of terrorist threat grows with every day. If to compare with the last century the number of terror and acts and victims of terror have significantly grown. There are several types of terrorism. It can be divided to state, criminal, religious and dissident terrorism. State terrorism, which can be internal or external, is defined as aggressive actions of the state. Internal terrorism is directed to the citizens of the country. External one is directed to other countries. Religions beliefs and ideas make the basis of religious terrorism. This kind of terrorism may be especially dangerous because it deals with religious fanatics who are very determined and narrow-minded in their actions. Dissident terrorism is a form of resistance of different organizations, which occupy the position opposed to ruling regime. This kind of terrorism can mainly be found inside one country. In some cases this kind of terrorism becomes a weapon against totalitarian regimes.

It is evident that terrorism is a serious problem of the contemporary society and only united efforts of world organizations and necessary attention to the subject of terrorism may help to deal with this global problem.

It is very important to find the roots of terrorism because in may cases we try to fight consequences but no the causes of the problem. Such an approach is less effective than finding causes and dealing with them. That is the reason understanding the roots of terrorism is so important. It is evident that different situations and different types of terrorism may have different causes but there still must be common reasons for all attacks of terror and these reason may give keys to dealing with this problem. Specialists usually name discrimination, deprivation, impoverishment and social isolation as the main reasons of terrorism. Stunning contrast in social position and economical position often becomes the reason of terrorism. Poor countries uses extreme actions in order to gain “justice”¯. Globalization contributed to the development of terrorism because nowadays people from poor countries got more information about the life of rich countries and stunning contrast became a source of envy. Thanks to globalization interactions between different parts of the world became easier and finally people from all over the world got an opportunity to compare their income and level of life with those in other countries.

Discrimination and limiting freedoms also may cause terrorist attacks. People who feel that their needs are neglected and find no other means to express their position turn to terrorist attacks as a mean to get what they want.

It is evident that the actions of terrorists can not be justified by any means but at the same time only aggressive action in response to terrorism can become only additional stimuli for people, who use violence and horror as their main weapons. When social, political or religious minorities do not get rights and freedoms they feel oppressed and may turn to terrorism and extremism as a way to improve their position.Ā  The sense of deprivation and alienation often becomes the reasons of terrorist attacks. Despite the methods chosen by terrorists are inappropriate and can not be justified by any means their reasons can be understood. In some cases the authorities of the courtiers do not pay attention to the problem of social, religious ethnical minorities till they turn to violent actions. Some acts of terror are easier to prevent than to fight. If such an approach is applied those people who turn to terrorism nowadays may be able to see alternative to their illegal violent actions and this may result in the reduce of terrorist attacks.

It is necessary to understand the way of thinking peculiar to terrorist and extremists. Most of them are grown up in the intolerant societies where force and violence are recognized as a mean of persuasion. Intolerance and use of force are usual things in those societies. That is the reason many terrorists believe terror and threats to be the most effective ways to express their opinion. So, the policy dealing with terrorism should take into account this factor as well. When the state responses on terror with violence in return, terrorist only get the proofs of their life position. That is the reasons we need to reconsider methods of dealing with terrorism and the study of its roots and origins may become extremely useful in this case. In many cases terrorists who are lead by ideological reasons do not consider other means of getting what they want. Society and government are partially responsible for this because terrorism and extremism often appear in the cases when people do not have an opportunity to express their opinions freely or simply do not even know that such an opportunity exists. Creating an opportunity for dialog and peaceful exchange of free thoughts is difficult task but I believe that the great scale of terrorism threat requires different approaches and all possibilities should be used.

Counterterrorism is defined as a set of measure used in order to fight terrorism. In its response to terrorism the U.S. has chosen the policy of extraordinary renditions. This policy consists of precocious measures aiming to find suspended terrorist and thus prevent terrorist attacks. Enhanced security became an addition to military actions against terrorism. Enhanced security is a set of measure used in order to prevent terrorist attacks. These measures include additional checkpoints, security barriers and surveillance.

Security and freedom balance is one of the main strategies of the US government. Being a democratic state, the US supports democratic initiatives. It puts effort in creating a state, which would correspond to the demands of its citizens. Latest events connected to the growth of threat of terrorism made government to turn to enforced measures of security. The efforts to defeat global terrorism and to prevent terrorist attacks can have negative consequences for the rights and freedoms of the citizens. Democratic regimes should “limit the reach of government protecting the institutions of civil society, including the family, religious communities, voluntary associations, private property, independent business, and a market economy.”¯ (National Security Strategy)

In democratic state human liberty should be protected by democratic institutions. When speaking about the national security it’s especially important to remember about national minorities, civil liberties, and equality of all citizens to be sure all the rights of the citizens are observed. There had been developed governmental acts, such as the Patriot Act, for example, which strengthen the measures against the terrorism and protect human liberties at the same time.

After the tragedy of 9/11 US Federal government has immediately implemented additional security regulations.Ā  New legislation was enacted by the government to increase the security of passengers. Such preventive measures as additional check ups at the airports, additional security measures in all transport means and control and intensive screening of immigrants who enter the country had been implemented in order to stop terrorism and provide a better security. Right after the terrorist attack of 2001 president Bush signed into law the Aviation and Transportation Security Act. “TSA has taken on 50,000 screeners screening 100 percent of passengers and 100 percent of bags there had been reinstituted the Air Marshal program, granted funds for bus companies located in 25 states”¦ strengthened our shipping plan with $170,000 for port security.”¯ (Blalock, Kadiyali et al, 2005)

Despite the appropriateness of additional safety measures their implementation has caused a lot of inconveniences for people who used airlines. Additional check ups came to be time-consuming and tiresome for some passengers. In addition the question about the defense of human liberties guaranteed by the Constitution arose. When trying to defend people its important to take into account that defense can also become a weapon to limit their liberties and it’s necessary to take this into account when implementing national security measures. In such cases the conflict between the efforts to enhance national security and individual liberty may arise. This conflict can not arise in the democratic society, though. In reality liberty and security are not the opposed notions. The first one follows from the second one. The protections of rights and freedoms of citizens in democratic state is achieved through the securing of their individual rights.Ā  Police powers are used not to limit the freedoms of the citizens but to guarantee their rights. Good and timely informing citizens about the changes in the state security policy can help to avoid misunderstandings of the state policy.

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