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Thread: Who is a terrorist expert - an opinion

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    Default Who is a terrorist expert - an opinion

    This piece presents some lively discussion about terrorist experts, especially "US terrorist experts."

    http://www.cnas.org/blogs/abumuqawam...m-experts.html
    . First, let us very briefly review the state of the literature in the study of terrorism and coercive violence. Greenwald is correct that "terrorism" has a pejorative connotation in the popular discourse. In the scholarly literature, though, terrorism has always meant something along the lines of "the threat or use of physical coercion, primarily against noncombatants, especially civilians, to create fear in order to achieve various political objectives." (O'Neill, 2005) Greenwald makes it seem as if states are never mentioned as terrorist actors, but there is a lot of literature on the use of coercive violence by states and state terrorism. Off the top of my head, I'm thinking of Schelling (1966); Mitchell, Stohl, Carleton and Lopez (1986); Kalyvas (2006); and Biddle and Friedman (2008). (I'm sure readers of this blog can think of literally dozens more examples. Please do so in the comments section.)

    The literature on terrorism and terrorist groups did not spring forth on September 12, 2001. Researchers at my alma mater and elsewhere had been writing about the phenomena of terrorism and groups who use terror tactics for decades. Sometimes these researchers were doing case studies on Islamist or Palestinian groups. Sometimes they were doing case studies on Irish (PIRA) or German (RAF) groups. And sometimes they were comparing and contrasting varied groups. Walter Laqueur originally published this book, for example, in 1977. Bruce Hoffman published this book in 1999. I'm pretty sure those two guys are terrorism experts without the scare quotes.
    Rather long article, but worth the read, IMHO.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Who is a terrorist expert - an opinion

    Created to enable discussion on Chowing's post, which was on another thread.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Former terrorists with at least one year experience on the job in a leadership position.

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    Default Expert in what field ?

    Why one would want to engage in a debate with lawyer turned political polemicist Glenn Greenwald is beyond me. Any debate with him will end up becoming a circular sink of decreasing radii. "Debunk", perhaps.

    The question is not whether a person is an "terrorism expert" (BTW: is someone, who e.g., meets the minimal legal requirements to testify as an "expert" in court, an "expert" for other purposes ?), but what useful things that person can contribute to understanding the multi-headed beast that is called "terrorism".

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    "Terrorism" seems to me too broad an idea for anyone to claim generic expertise in... an expert on some subset of the field, perhaps, but calling yourself a "terrorism expert" is like calling yourself a specialist in history.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

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    I wonder if any one claim to be an expert.

    Terrorism is not any operation organised on set principles or doctrine or tactics.

    It all depends on the group that is organising the terrorist act.

    For instance, in India, the terrorists from different organisations (foreign or domestic) have different procedures. Therefore a terrorist in J&K may not have the same tactics as that of a Maoist!

    It is difficult to be an expert in a generalised meaning of the word!

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    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    We could barely agree on what constitutes a terrorist act and how to even define one that does said, yet alone conclude we have an expert in the field.

    The Subcommittee has found that practically every agency of the United States Government (USG) with a counterterrorism mission uses a different definition of terrorism. All USG agencies charged with the counterterrorism mission should agree on a single definition, so that it would be clear what activity constitutes a terrorist act and who should be designated a terrorist. Without a standard definition, terrorism might be treated no differently than other crimes. The Subcommittee supports a standard definition as follows: "Terrorism is the illegitimate, premeditated use of politically motivated violence or the threat of violence by a sub-national group against persons or property with the intent to coerce a government by instilling fear amongst the populace."
    The only expert that I'm aware of is a real terrorist, and, as Ray pointed out, that expert may work fine say in Africa, but would know next to nothing in the Middle East.
    If you want to blend in, take the bus

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    "Terrorism is the illegitimate, premeditated use of politically motivated violence or the threat of violence by a sub-national group against persons or property with the intent to coerce a government by instilling fear amongst the populace."
    LOL, it would probably NOT be wise of the US to make such a definition official. It's danger close.

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    True, but the US sees "legitimate" as meaning the same thing as "legal," and as we determine what is legal or illegal, then there is no risk that our actions are ever "illegitimate." Pretty convenient, not sure if anyone else buys it, but we seem to think they do.

    Reality is that organizations of every ilk tend to employ "terrorism" when they feel it meets their ends. Certainly all state parties in WWII employed terrorism on a massive scale. The US Air Force is largely dedicated to the delivery of state-sanctioned terror onto others (but only in legitimate ways..).

    It is indeed a fine line. All the more reason to back away from our obsession on the tactic of terror, and to become more focused on the issues behind the organizations that resort to it. Mitigate the organizations in a supporting effort, but make the main effort one of working to understand and resolve the underlying provocations. This also means we'll have to stop blaming convenient foils, such as religious, cultural, ethnic and ideological differences.

    Easier to just focus on tactics and attempt the defeat of those who employ certain tactics. Attack the symptoms, ignore the causes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Former terrorists with at least one year experience on the job in a leadership position.
    You may be correct but currently it means ...

    ... someone who studies or works at a university. Has read all the papers published on terrorism by others also studying or working at a university somewhere and who may or may not have had a chat with or interviewed or even just seen a photo of a real terrorist.

    See these guys on TV all the time.

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Has read all the papers published on terrorism by others also studying or working at a university somewhere and who may or may not have had a chat with or interviewed or even just seen a photo of a real terrorist.
    And statements made in one paper then appear in another, and another, and another, until they are accepted as "fact", no matter how specious the original source...
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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