Fighting Violence: A Critique of the War On
Tamir Bar-On and Howard Goldstein
De Paul University, International Human Rights Law Institute, 25E. Jackson Blvd. Chicago, IL
E-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
This paper reviews the various ways in which violence is resorted to in the service of
political ends. While it is commonly thought that terrorism is an activity that is
solely engaged in by political outsiders, this paper will demonstrate that even
constitutionally legitimate political entities have been known to themselves engage
in terrorist acts. From Robespierre to the World Trade Center, with numerous
stops along the way in locations as diverse as Hiroshima, Buenos Aires, and
Winnipeg, the paper aims to investigate just what exactly terrorism is, and therefore
what the actual object of the war on terror ought to be.
International Politics (2005) 42, 225–245. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ip.8800108
Keywords: terrorism; war on terror; Chomsky; freedom fighter; 9/11
What is Terrorism?
George Bush’s post-9/11 declaration of a war on terrorism has resulted in a
marked increase in the public’s taste for ‘anti-terrorist’ violence. In a 1981
Gallup poll, 82% of Americans stated that they would never support political
assassinations. But a similar poll conducted after 9/11 reveals that some 60%
of Americans today could ‘envision a scenario in which they would support the
tactic’ (assassinations) (McClaughlin, 2002). Perhaps even more telling, is that
one in four respondents to the same post-9/11 poll could envision a scenario in
which they would advocate the use of nuclear weapons in the war on terrorism.
The war on terror has certainly whipped the public into a fighting frenzy, all
the time begging the fundamental question ‘what is terrorism’?
Palestinians with explosives strapped to their bodies enter a hotel in the
Israeli town of Netanya. The hotel is packed with families celebrating the
Jewish holiday of Passover. The Palestinians detonate the explosives, killing 30