Vietnam 1945-1975 Terrorism
Definition: the use of terror or violence to intimidate and/or subjugate // the attack on an individual to frighten and coerce a large number of others.
- Criminal: i.e.: Mafia
- State Terrorism: use of terror by a Gov. to maintain power.
- As an instrument of Guerilla warfare
- Terrorism by groups attempting to bring about the collapse of a Gov. or trigger revolution
Note: we will focus on d)
Common perceptions with regard to Terrorism
- "One man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter"
- Developed mainly after WWII (but not only a recent phenomenon)
- Usually left-wing because going against established right-wing dictatorships.
- More recently: Islamic, right-wing death squads of C.A.
- Middle-class led
- Is terrorism the result of genuine grievances? NO:
- Most terrorism directed against liberal Gov.
- Doesn't seem to have been “weapon of the poor”
- Idealists (i.e.: Che Guevara)
- No examples of pure terrorism achieving its final goals
Why It became more popular after WWII:
- Modern states vulnerable (esp. liberal democratic states)
- Easy targets: airports, city centers
- Serious anti-terrorist measures hard to implant
- Hostage taking “;no win”; situation for Gov.
- Increasing number of minority problems.
- Governments using international terrorism (i.e.: Iran, Libya)
- Wide range of compact, sophisticated weapons available to terrorists even small organizations become capable to cause considerable damage
- Less dangerous to be a terrorist (i.e.: abolition of death penalty)
- Developments in Mass Media greater pressure on Gov. to “give in” to terrorist demands.
- Rise of fundamentalist Islam (i.e.: suicide bombings)
- Ending of the period of decolonialisation remaining areas of dissatisfaction are urban. (major problem has become unfair distribution of wealth)
How successful is Terrorism?
Little evidence that terrorism is successful. No purely terrorist group has brought about the changes it desired because:
- Ultimate objectives of most terrorist groups unrealistic (i.e.: Red Brigades in Italy wanted to destroy existing society)
- Have few members.
- Few had support of the working class they claimed to represent.
- Only have upper hand if Gov. is limited in its means to employ against them.
- May be self-destructive: i.e.: 1970s in Argentina, left-wing terrorism led to a right-wing military coup.
- Terrorism can only succeed where the terrorist have widespread support (i.e.: PLO)
Can Terrorism be eradicated?
Cannot totally be destroyed but can be rendered ineffective. Bear in mind that:
- If there are genuine grievances then it is impossible.
- Governments that are “soft” encourage further attacks.
- Isolated terrorist attacks are the most difficult to prevent.