Terrorism and Ethics in Counterterrorism: What We Need To Know
Introduction to Ethics: First assignment Reflection (Project Proposal)
1. “Identify one important concept, research finding, theory, or idea in ethics that you learned while completing the assignment last week.”
2. “Why do you believe that this concept, research finding, theory, or idea in ethics is important?”
3. “Apply what you have learned from this assignment to some aspect of your life.”
4. “What question(s) has the assignment raised for you? What are you still wondering about?”
Initial assignment asked to:
After weeks of brainstorming ideas, questions, and learning activities that seem relevant to this course and to your own curiosity, now is the time to finalize and turn in your plan.
The length of your proposal will depend to some extent on the nature of what you are assigning yourself.
You should also expand on your description of the project and explain how you have carefully crafted it in order to help you learn whatever it is you intend to learn about ethics through doing it. What is it about ethics you hope to learn? Why does this matter to you? How does your proposed project help you go about doing so in the time you have allotted (but also fully utilizing the time you are expected to be working on this course for college credit)? How can you be sure that this project will help you address your questions in a new, possibly improved, way that you haven’t been able to before in your life?
The topic I Chose:
“Terrorism – This crisis needs no introduction except to say that it’s more than just a cultural issue. Important distinctions must be made: who is a terrorist and who is not? How do we distinguish terrorism from “freedom fighters”? Is terrorism a symptom or a full-blown ideology? How does racial profiling effect the ways the issue is addressed? Does it encourage broader based support for fighting terrorism, or does it further exacerbate the problem? How can we balance the thorny issues of individual liberty and security?”
Why I chose it – I would like to propose a project that’s close to my field of study as well as future career (Police Officer). Terrorism and Homeland Security – examining the relationship between police and Department of Homeland Security work in counter-terrorism, emphasizing overall public safety and providing a comprehensive look into the complex issues surrounding communities.
Project Proposal answer:
Terrorism and Ethics in Counterterrorism: What We Need To Know
This project is aimed at espousing in details the ethical strings attached to the terrorism and the war on terrorism. Besides, it is directed at giving a new face the concept of terrorism, the reasons why we should start rethinking afresh about terrorism citing global concerns it raises and a host of other factors fundamental in counterterrorism. These include the ethical justifications for terrorism (if any), the ethical dimensions in the counterterrorism war and much more. The project is of interest to me because it is relevant to my field of study as well as my career interest; that of becoming a police officer- especially operating under the counterterrorism department. The project has been crafted having the time frame allowed in mind and such it coincides in duration with the time limits. It will hopefully help me give a new approach to the view on terrorism and counterterrorism because it captures the very fundamental and contemporary issues involved in the topic.
What is terrorism? Perhaps this is the fundamental question that many are grappling with in their concerted efforts to adequately understand what really constitute terrorism, what makes a terrorist a terrorist or why one would opt into terrorism and so on (Krueger 6). In the interest of knowledge, it is imperative to footnote that terrorism is not a novice concept as it is understood. However, this project proposal seeks to demonstrate that there is no consensual meaning of the term. Terrorism means different things to different people. Nonetheless, central to any discussion on terrorism is the need to understand its meaning and scope. In this respect, several definitional attempts exist; legal, ‘unofficial’ and those that have been proposed by commentators as well as researchers. It is unfortunate to highlight that some of the definitional attempts that have been put forward focuses only on acts perceived as amounting to terror orchestrated by individuals or group of people and forgets to pay attention to government terrorism. Others only endeavor to focus on the political objectives while others cast their airtime in relating terrorism to criminal acts and ignore the political incentives. However, as Smidt indicates (Smidt 261), the common factor underlying the various approaches at definition is that terrorism is a means or mechanism or achieving an intended objective. Thus, terrorism in and of itself, is not an objective or an aim. This objective approach laid down by Smidt is more to my appeal in the sense that it offers a middle ground to all the existing controversial definitions.
This project proposal therefore seeks not to evaluate the merits of the various approaches. That notwithstanding, it highlights the key aspects that are deemed to constitute terrorism. These include, political violence or threat of political violence, terror or threat of terror, an element of coercion or use of force, intimidation, criminal element, a common cause other material gain (usually for political reasons) but can as well include religious and ideological gains or in pursuit of the same (Wilkinson 3). A terrorist is therefore one (including governments) who resigns into undertakings that would generally be regarded as constituting acts of terror. A distinction is often drawn between terrorists and ‘freedom fighters’. However, it is proposed in this project that the distinction ought not to be over-emphasized. Mainly exhibited by insurgent organizations, ‘freedom fighters’ activities are deemed to be a metamorphosed form of terrorism. It is suggested that acts by the so-called freedom fighters be treated merely as aspects of terrorism. History has demonstrated that many national liberation movements have always unleashed acts amounting to terror on the civilians at times the state. The tag ‘freedom fighters’ has been over-emphasized at the expense of terror. This is so with some separatist movements seeking for cessation. Their actions, the proposal suggests, are mainly attributed to extreme political and religious ideologies. Freedom fighters are therefore suggested to be placed on the same pedestal (Ganor 304; Kennedy 21; Weimann 445).
Terrorism is no more a symptom or a regional problem. It is suggested in this proposal that terrorism be regarded as a global problem. It happens almost in all places around the world. From religious extremists to insurgent activism dubbed revolution movements, to state terrorism (George 76) and many other forms of terror including the African Continent (Solomon 11). The project proposal therefore seeks, in the wake of the global concern about terror, to demonstrate that racial profiling is very flawed as a counterterrorism mechanism. This is because it does nothing more than divert very important resources aimed at fighting terrorism and drives away possible allies that would combine their efforts in the war on terror. Most important it contradicts the long existing notions of equality and freedom. Besides, it is inconsistent with the ethics of a just war. The groups that have mainly suffered racial profiling particularly the US government include the South Asians, Arabs and Muslims (though this would best be referred to as religious profiling). Therefore, much as there is no ethical justification for terrorism, I propose that counterterrorism war should be conducted having regard to the maximum ethical standards and taking cognizance of aspects such as individual liberties and human rights. This is bearing in the mind the delicate issue of balancing the between the individual liberties and rights and the fight on terrorism. The question has always been which interests override the other; that of the civilians or the terrorists themselves? This always culminates into a never-ending debate but the bottom line is: There is need to strike a balance between the two competing interests.
It is my sincere hope that this project will be a success and it will function to unearth new perspectives terrorism and counterterrorism approaches.
Ganor, Boaz. “Defining terrorism: Is one man’s terrorist another man’s freedom fighter?.” Police Practice and Research 3.4 (2002): 287-304.
George, Alexander, ed. Western state terrorism. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991: 76-101.
Kennedy, Robert. “Is one person’s terrorist another’s freedom fighter? Western and Islamic approaches to ‘just war’compared.” Terrorism and Political Violence 11.1 (1999): 1-21.
Krueger, Alan B. “What makes a terrorist.” Economics and the Roots of Terrorism (2007): 6.
Smidt, Corwin E. “Religion and American attitudes toward Islam and an invasion of Iraq.” Sociology of Religion 66.3 (2005): 243-261.
Solomon, Hussein. “Counter-terrorism in Nigeria: responding to Boko Haram.” The RUSI Journal 157.4 (2012): 6-11.
Weimann, Gabriel. “Terrorists or freedom fighters? Labeling terrorism in the Israeli press.” Political Communication 2.4 (1985): 433-445.
Wilkinson, Paul. Terrorism Versus Democracy: The Liberal State Response. Routledge, 2006: 3.
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