In the Name of Terrorism: Presidents on Political Violence in the Post-world War II Era

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Once the prisoners arrived in Mexico, Elbrick was released in good condition. His captors had washed and pressed his bloodstained shirt and tie he had been hit on the head with a pistol during the abduction , and they gave him a copy of a book on revolution by Ho Chi Minh , in which they had inscribed, "To our first political prisoner, with the expression of our respect for his calm behavior in action. In the following months the guerrillas kidnapped the Japanese consul general in Sao Paulo and the ambassadors of Germany and Switzerland.

In each case the government freed prisoners in exchange for release of the diplomats but subsequently cracked down hard and brutally, ultimately destroying the urban guerrilla groups. But the tactic of kidnapping diplomats spread to other countries.

Local governments and the governments of the diplomatic representatives became increasingly resistant to meeting the demands of those holding hostages. The term "terrorist" increasingly replaced the more neutral term "urban guerrilla. Violence directed primarily and randomly against civilians with the aim of intimidating them, achieving political goals, or exacting revenge for perceived grievances. Since the 11 September terrorist attacks that destroyed the twin World Trade Center skyscrapers in New York City and killed nearly 2, persons, terrorism arising out of conflicts in the Middle East has been a focus of international media attention.

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Concern about violence undertaken by groups and states it considered to be terrorists prompted the United States to declare a war on terrorism, two manifestations of which have been the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Despite this close association of terrorism with the Middle East , with the notable exception of the year , the majority of terrorist incidents committed worldwide and the majority of victims of terrorism have been outside of or unrelated to political conflicts in the Middle East.

Nevertheless, it is true that civilians somewhere in the Middle East have been victims of politically motivated violence every year since at least In trying to assess the significance of terrorism, the most difficult problem is the lack of an agreed-upon understanding of what the word terrorism means. Political scientists tend to restrict terrorism to acts of violence carried out by nonstate actors against civilians. Historians, sociologists, and experts in international humanitarian law, however, tend to use a broader definition that includes all premeditated acts of violence against civilians, whether carried out by nonstate political groups or by states.

Governments — especially those confronting armed opposition groups — and the media generally use the political-science definition of terrorism, often expanding it to include violent acts against military as well as civilian victims. In contrast, the nonstate perpetrators of violence consider their actions to be legitimate forms of resistance to state terrorism aimed at suppressing self-determination, even though they may be directed against civilians Kimmerling, p. The notion of a legitimate right to resist state oppression is controversial, and no international legal convention addresses this matter.

Nonstate groups generally cite the United Nations General Assembly Resolution on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples as recognizing their right of resistance. Indeed, that resolution declares, "forcible resistance to forcible denial of self-determination. Giving a measure of international legitimacy to resistance struggles has complicated the problem of defining terrorism because it essentially has become a political decision whether a nonstate actor is deemed a terrorist or a genuine national liberation movement fighting for independence from foreign control or occupation.

During the Cold War rivalry between the Soviet Union and the United States — , such decisions tended to be based more on ideological factors than on objective assessments of the goals and motives of particular nonstate groups. For example, the Soviet Union provided clandestine support for the South Yemen independence movement — and for the Dhufar liberation movement in Oman — primarily because both areas at the time were under the control of Britain , a major U. Similarly, the United States provided covert assistance to the Kurds in Iraq — and the Mojahedin in Afghanistan — primarily because in both cases the nonstate groups were fighting for independence from Soviet client regimes.

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The Soviet Union and the United States condemned as terrorists those nonstate groups that were fighting against regimes the other country favored, and they praised as national resistance heroes those groups fighting against governments they opposed. Over time, a special vocabulary of terrorism emerged.

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For instance, the term state terrorism came to be used for violent acts used by disfavored states to suppress resistance movements. The Soviet Union used this term to describe the policies of two U. The United States, in turn, used state terrorism as early as the mids to describe the repressive domestic policies of states it considered to be Soviet allies, such as Iraq, Syria , and South Yemen.

During the s another term, state sponsor of terrorism, emerged to describe the support for nonstate groups provided by countries that clearly were not allied to either the Soviet Union or the United States. Iran and Libya were identified as the main state sponsors of terrorism, the former because of its assistance after to Hizbullah in Lebanon. In the case of Libya, the United States accused that country of supporting Palestinian groups that targeted U. The superpower rivalry in and rhetoric about the Middle East tended both to obscure the local origins of terrorism and to frustrate efforts to address the multifaceted consequences of violence.

Duplicate citations

In the Name of Terrorism: Presidents on Political Violence in the Post-World War II Era (SUNY series in the Trajectory of Terror) [Carol K. Winkler] on. In the name of terrorism: Presidents on political violence in the post–World War II era. Carol K. Winkler. State University of New York Press, Albany, New York.

This problem is best revealed in the Arab — Israel conflict, which began in separately from but in tandem with the Cold War and still continues unresolved even though the superpower conflict has ended. One significant legacy of the Cold War relationship to the Arab — Israel conflict has been a great volume of partisan literature, especially in the years after the formation of the Palestine Liberation Organization PLO in The Israeli — Palestinian struggle over pre Palestine which became Israel plus the territories of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in is the core of the Arab — Israel conflict.

In the name of terrorism : presidents on political violence in the post-World War II era

The literature on this aspect of the conflict illustrates the controversies in trying to achieve any relatively objective consensus on what groups merit designation as terrorists and what kinds of violent acts constitute terrorism. For this reason, it is a useful case to study. For nearly thirty years prior to the signing of the Oslo Accord in September , the State of Israel proclaimed the PLO and the various Palestinian resistance groups that comprised its membership to be terrorist organizations.

Inevitably, there emerged a body of writings that supported the Israeli position, not just in Israel but also in Europe and North America. Although some of these studies were sophisticated and scholarly analyses of the PLO's goals and methods, other accounts were merely polemical denunciations of PLO tactics. Many of their actions were sensational incidents that attracted considerable media attention — a PLO objective, as the guerrillas hoped publicity would further their cause.

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The several international airplane hijackings, for example, culminated in September known as Black September with the hijacking of four planes in as many days, precipitating a civil war between the PLO and the army of Jordan. Attacks on Israeli interests abroad culminated in the seizing of Israeli athletes as hostages at the Olympic games in Munich , an incident that left eleven athletes dead.

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Rather than winning sympathy for the Palestinians as the perpetrators expected, such incidents created and reinforced a public image of the PLO as a terrorist organization. In contrast to the official Israeli and U. Its fighters were lauded as heroes and martyrs, and its operations against Israeli civilians were justified as defense of, or reprisals for, Israeli attacks on Palestinian refugee camps and assassinations of PLO leaders.

The Soviet Union, the primary international backer of the PLO after , tended to remain silent about many of the more sensational acts of violence by Palestinian guerrillas, but it continued to promote the PLO as a national liberation movement.

Presidential address to Congress on terrorism plus reax

Soviet support was especially significant after when Moscow encouraged diplomatic recognition of the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Quite separate from the Soviet backing for the PLO, a few academic studies and advocacy articles appeared that were sympathetic to Palestinian claims and rights. Although these writings were scarcer than the volumes of pro-Israeli literature and never achieved a similar impact on the mainstream U.

The Israeli — PLO conflict affected both regional and international politics by the late s. This is because the PLO used Lebanon, where a large number of Palestinian refugees had lived since , as a base for operations against Israel throughout the s, and Israel responded with retaliatory raids against what it termed "terrorist nests" — suspected PLO facilities in refugee camps.

Many Lebanese and Palestinian civilians died in these raids, and their deaths were described officially as "collateral damage" in a larger operation against "terrorist infrastructure. The escalating cycle of attacks and reprisals contributed to the civil war in Lebanon — and also led to an Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon in Israeli forces occupied a 6-mile-wide security strip, ostensibly to prevent attacks into Israel; this occupation lasted until A second Israeli invasion of Lebanon in resulted in a war with the PLO, its forced withdrawal from Lebanon under international protection, and the Israeli occupation of Beirut and all of southern Lebanon.

However, almost as soon as the threat from the PLO seemed to be contained, Israel faced a new source of terrorism that stemmed directly from its occupation of Lebanon which lasted until A Lebanese group, Hizbullah, was formed in late with the initial aim of expelling Israeli forces from Lebanon. Hizbullah's tactics, which included suicide bombings against French and U. Hizbullah, however, neither sought nor received any support from the Soviet Union. Like the revolutionary government that assumed power in Iran in , Hizbullah was equally hostile to Soviet and U.

Its frequent use of religious rhetoric to explain or to justify its actions tended to alienate the Soviet Union even more than its direct criticisms did. Thus, Hizbullah became one of the first major nonstate groups in the Middle East to lack a superpower patron. Despite or perhaps because of this status, Hizbullah succeeded in establishing a permanent presence in Lebanon's politics and in becoming a nonstate group whose actions Israel neither could control nor ignore.

Meanwhile, the removal of the PLO to Tunisia did not end its political influence among Palestinians, and when an intifada uprising erupted in December among Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the PLO gradually emerged as a main coordinating force for the resistance.

The political rapprochement between Israel and the PLO in not only was unexpected, but it also necessitated a re-evaluation of the negative ways each side had depicted the other. However, the years of intellectual and emotional investment in the terrorism paradigm made it difficult for some people on both sides to view formerly hated terrorists as legitimate partners in peace negotiations.

Thus, from the outset of the Oslo peace process, some Israelis and Palestinians were skeptical of the agreement and even were determined to overturn it. The assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in November by an Israeli opposed to the Oslo Accord and the first suicide bombings undertaken in by HAMAS were significant terrorist incidents that led to multiple actions and reprisals that cumulatively undermined popular support for the peace process among both Israelis and Palestinians.

It was in this increasingly tense atmosphere that Israeli politician Ariel Sharon intervened in a manner that would have the effect albeit at the time, unforeseen of overturning the peace process.