Ricky Thompson

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Should terrorism be understood as a state action as well as a non-state action?

Is it right that we tend to think of terrorism only as violence perpetrated by non-state groups? Is it not time we started to see certain acts of government (military or otherwise) as acts of terrorism? For instance, the Turkish treatment of its Kurdish citizens? Or the Syrian treatment of its population? Or the American treatment of some of its own people as well as its foreign policy?

Added to this, is it possible that the actions of some corporations should also be seen as terrorist acts of violence? For instance, getting citizens forcibly and violently cleared from land that they wish to mine, or the economic co-opting of vast swathes of people who they then refuse to pay a living wage to (which in effect affects the physical security of those people)?

If the definition and understanding of terrorism was widened in such a way what effect do you think it would have? Would it be positive? Negative? Or no effect at all?

  • Jun 20 2012: The definition of terrorism at its base is very simple.
    It is a *political* act of *aggression* (either physical: bombings, or non-physical: boycotts) that *randomly, and without differentiation between groups in society* targets the *civilians* of *another state* (or province, in the case of countries that have different cultural groups within one country), to inspire *terror* and thus have *leverage* over political decision taken by the opposite state.

    So yeah, evicting citizens, while a crime according to the *International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights*, is not terrorism, because it does not aim at achieving leverage over another international (political) entity.
    And in the case of the Turkish government, it is a violations of the *Universal Declaration of Human Rights*, but hardly terrorism, it's what we usually call *oppression*