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Terrorism and just war - Essay Example

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Acts of terrorism involves arousing fright amongst the target population so as to push a particular political, social, cultural or a religious motive. The methodology for this involves killing random people. In the modern history, the usage war over terrorism has become a commonly used geo political jargon. The popularity and acceptance of this term within itself suggests the global feelings against terrorism. The random victims of terrorism are often referred to as innocent people who are disassociated with the cause of terrorism. The just war theory suggests the idea of innocence of the victims as a decisive factor in justifying a war. This innocence of the victims is the elements which make an act of terrorism unjust over a war wherein only soldiers involved are targeted. The larger philosophy of this innocence has to be however further analyzed. The thesis of this paper is that the concept of innocence of the victims of terrorism does not make terrorism theoretically unjustified as compared to that of war. It must be noted here that the paper does not intend to justify terrorism as a theoretically acceptable norm. “Just war theory provides normative content for ethical arguments about the resort to and conduct of war on the assumption, distinct from realism, that morality has a place in international politics—although like realism, it assumes that war is an enduring feature of world politics” (Crawford, 2000). It has been observed by several philosophers that the idea of innocence of victims as proposed by the Just war theory is often misunderstood (Walzer, 2006). Interestingly, the very word innocence provokes sympathy among the observers of war. For instance, the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre killing ‘innocent’ people was taken up quite sentimentally by the rest of the world. However, it must be understood that the meaning of the term ‘innocent’ proposed by the just war theory is quite different from that of the common perception of the sympathizers. It more or less means disassociated in the theoretical context. In other words, the word innocent in the war context refers to people who are not officially appointed by the system in war to engage in the war. In the context of a war between two countries, the people who are engaged are the soldiers who designated for the war by both the countries. All the other civilian people of both the countries enjoy the immunity of ‘innocence ’(Walzer, 2006). Theoretically just war is conceptually where only these soldiers are targeted and not other civilians. On the other hand, an act of killing people who are not directly involved in the cause is considered to be unjust and is termed terrorism (Walzer, 2006). Thus it is the nature of the victims that draws the line between a just war and an act of terrorism. In broader sense the nature of the victims is decided by their innocence as perceived by the just war theory(Walzer, 2006). However, the reality is that there are conceptual errors in the ways in which the whole theoretical concept of innocence is perceived by the critics. For instance, in the case of a war between two countries there are many soldiers who get killed who necessarily were physically engaged in the battle. There will be a wide range of services associated with a soldiers’ team who are victimized to death while supporting the team in the war front. However, these people do not ...Show more


Terror has been used all through the history of the civilization to establish identities, power and maintain structural and cultural realities of the societies. In this process of terrorizing what happens in turn is the distortion of the contradicting identities, power systems and structural and cultural realities…
Author : hkoepp
Terrorism and just war
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