What's Wrong With Terrorism?
Terrorists perform terrible acts. They maim, mutilate and kill in pursuit of their goals. The horrifying events of 9/11 and the regular suicide bombings around the world have made terrorism one of the central preoccupations of the twenty-first century. But what is the distinctive wrong of terrorism? Criminal acts such as murder and hijacking are already on the moral statute books, so why is it that we regard terrorists as different from and morally worse than ordinary killers and kidnappers? Some see terrorism is an ideology, others claim it is a deep-seated social or psychological failing, others that it is a form of fighting unfairly judged by just-war standards. In this provocative new book, Robert Goodin puts forward the view that terrorism is, in fact, a deliberate tactic of frightening people for socio-political gain. Fear affects peoples ability to reason clearly and undermines their capacity for autonomous self-government. In this way, Goodin contends that terror is not only the weapon of organizations such as al-Qaeda; it also benefits democratic politicians who profit from the climate of insecurity induced by terrorist threats and violence. Political figures conducting a campaign of fear as part of their war on terrorism may therefore be committing wrongs akin to those of terrorists themselves. This, Goodin argues, is what is distinctively wrong with terrorism in the contemporary world.
- Electronic book text | 256 pages
- 22 Apr 2013
- John Wiley and Sons Ltd
- Polity Press
- United Kingdom
Table of contents
Preface vii Acknowledgements x 1 Introduction 1 2 Terrorism as Unjust War: Killing Innocent Civilians 6 Three problems with the just-war analysis of terrorism 9 A different sense of `innocence' 18 War crime, ordinary crime or a special offence? 21 3 Terrorism as a Political Tactic: Intending to Instil Fear 31 What sort of `ism' is terrorism? 32 What terrorists want 35 Fear is the key 45 Summing up 48 4 States Can Be Terrorists, Too 50 The definitional ploy 53 States terrorizing other states 60 States terrorizing their own people 66 State-sponsored terror and crimes of complicity 73 5 Warnings Can Be Terroristic, Too: Profiting Politically from Fear 78 Threats and warnings 80 Impure warnings: `terrorist warnings' versus `warnings of terrorism' 85 Politicians' intentions matter, too 91 Terrorism as an aggravated wrong: is `violence' required? 100 Better `terrorist warnings' than none at all? 108 6 Warnings Bound to Be Misheard 111 How big a deal is terrorism? 114 Calibrating risks 118 Mechanisms of misperception 123 Mass-mediated terror 131 Risks of really mass destruction 136 Imprudent precautions 142 7 Terrorizing Democracy 156 Terrorism as a political wrong 156 Fearlessness as a response 159 Hobbesian solutions to non-Hobbesian problems 170 Of tyrants and terrorists 176 8 Conclusions 179 Notes 187 References 218 Index 238
-This book is an indispensable guide to anyone seriously interested in how to think about the complex question of terrorism. It exposes subtle and blatant biases that characterize much contemporary discussion of the subject and offers a judicious, closely argued, and ultimately the only realistic response to terrorism.- --Professor Lord Bhikhu Parekh, University of Westminster "This book is an indispensable guide to anyone seriously interested in how to think about the complex question of terrorism. It exposes subtle and blatant biases that characterize much contemporary discussion of the subject and offers a judicious, closely argued, and ultimately the only realistic response to terrorism." --Professor Lord Bhikhu Parekh, University of Westminster
About Robert E. Goodin
Robert Goodin is Professor of Social and Political Theory at the Australian National University.