DISCUSSION ON WHETHER THE STATE CAN COMMIT ACTS OF TERRORISM
The U.S code defines terrorism as a premeditated politically motivated violence executed by sub-natural groups or agents against civilians (Kapitan, T. 2007). Any use and threat of use of unlawful violence with an objective of instilling fear or simply to intimidate the government and the society also qualify in this definition. However it is difficult to get a consensus on the determination of when this use of force is legitimate as the government does not appear in the definition. Since the state defines crime, the question becomes whether the state can commit acts of crime and engage in terrorism. Both the state and non-state actors use violence to achieve their political objectives.
Special cases of state terrorism are also available characterized by bad neighbors leading to imported conflicts. International conflicts and support of a foreign country against repressive regimes may inspire opposition members to terrorize civilians and these wars may not be justified (Valls, 2002.565). States also support local terrorists groups that fight against those nations they conflict with but cannot engage directly in combat. For example, America has been accused of terrorism for backing Israel which Palestinians considers as terrorists. State can also engage in terrorism especially where countries under authoritarian and totalitarian regimes attempts and acquire weapons of mass destruction.
Consensus has not been identified on the exact definition of terrorism, but there is universal agreement that the state can commit acts of terrorism. Terrorism has been defined and analyzed on perspectives of crime, politics, war, revolution among others. It does not matter whether an act of violence is committed by the state or non state actors. Threats by non state actors are addressed by domestic enforcement authorities, whereas the armed forces address state sponsored terrorism. It will be difficult in addressing terrorism without agreement as long as ones man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.
Berkey, Brian., 2010. Terrorism and Moral Distinctiveness: Discussion Paper. Berkeley/London graduate Conference.
Kapitan, T., 2007. Can Terrorism be Justified? [online] p.1-18. Available at http://www.nui.edu/phil/~kapitan/pdf/CanTerrorismbeJustified.pdf [Accessed 27 February 2013].
Valls, Andrew., 2000. Ethics in International Affairs; Theories and Cases, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. Boston Way.