Short Essay On War Against Terrorism

Question: In the 20th century, Chechens, Abkhaz, Kurds, Palestinians and Irish Nationalists have all seen themselves as fighting a war against a colonising nation.Nation states have always regarded the actions of such groups as terrorism. Wars are sometimes defined by the fact that they take place between nation states: but where does that leave civil war, or the so-called "War on Terrorism"?Terrorist acts are often said to be arbitrary or random in nature, but in fact groups tend to select targets carefully in order to provoke the maximum reaction, and also, where possible, to strike at symbols of the regime.

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Nation states tend to use this as the essence of a terrorist act, but if we limit terrorist acts to sub-state groups, then we have already decided that a violent act carried out by a state cannot be terrorism, however terrible it may be!

This criterion is also disputed by many experts, since it rules out the possibility of attacks against military personnel or other state officials such as politicians or the police being classified as terrorist attacks.

Other cases have found that the treatment given to prisoners in detention camps amounted to torture. Both involve acts of extreme violence, both are motivated by political, ideological or strategic ends, and both are inflicted by one group of individuals against another.

The consequences of each are terrible for members of the population – whether intended or not.

Sometimes a formal declaration of war is taken as defining an act of war, but that excludes low-level bombing campaigns which take place over a number of years, such as the United States' attacks on the borders of Pakistan or in the no-fly zones declared over Iraq in the 1990s.

Should a definition of war include economic or trade wars, both of which may be enormously destructive in terms of human life? UNICEF estimated that the sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s led to the deaths of over half a million children (and many adults).Health systems break down, education suffers, and home, work, supplies of food and water, the legal system, freedom of the press and free speech, and accountability for abuses by the state – or by the "enemy" state – all see restrictions, if they do not disappear completely.However poor protections were in peacetime, the rights of children, women, minority groups and refugees will almost certainly be poorer still in times of war.It is hard to see any place for human rights when human life is deliberately targeted, or where it is seen as "collateral damage" in the course of mass bombing campaigns, which either directly or indirectly lead to sickness, disease, suffering, destruction of homes, and death.In times of war, particularly wars which last for years on end, every human right appears to be affected adversely.These years were characterised by the use of violent methods of repression, including mass executions authorised by the Revolutionary Tribunal, a court set up to try political offenders.Towards the end of this era in particular, people were often sentenced only on the basis of suspicion and without any pretence at a fair trial.All of the above led to a general atmosphere of fear: a state in which people could no longer feel secure from the threat of arbitrary violence.From such beginnings, the concept of terrorism entered the vocabulary.Wars and national emergencies allow for states to "derogate" from – or temporarily put aside – some of their human rights commitments.However, certain human rights, such as the right to life or the right to be free from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment can never be put aside.


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