The systematic use of violence to attempt to achieve ideological goals

Terrorism is, in the broadest sense, the use of intentionally indiscriminate violence as a means to create terror among masses of people; or fear to achieve a financial, political, religious or ideological aim. It is used in this regard primarily to refer to violence against peacetime targets or in war against non-combatants. The terms "terrorist" and "terrorism" originated during the French Revolution of the late 18th century but gained mainstream popularity during the U.S. presidency of Ronald Reagan (1981-89) after the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings] and again after the 11 September 2001 attacks and the 2002 Bali bombings.


A Democratic Dictatorship, by Jacob Hornberger, Future of Freedom, May 2006
Posits that "ever since 9/11 Americans have been living under dictatorial rule", examining the justifications given by Bush for exercising dictatorial powers
"Under this power, all the Pentagon has to do is [have] the president [sign a document] labeling any particular American a 'terrorist' ... Does the person who is labeled a 'terrorist' have the right to appeal ...? No. Even if the [person] is a newspaper editor, a prominent celebrity, or a well-known anti-war critic, the president's determination is final. ... Are there any restraints on the ... type of punishment ...? No. Since [they] consider a terrorist to be an illegal enemy combatant, they refuse to be bound by the Geneva Convention, which provides long-established protections for prisoners of war."
Bill Clinton and the Bogus Iranian Threat, by Sheldon Richman, 8 May 2014
Another chapter in the Iran "manufactured crisis" saga: how the Clinton administration was influenced by Israelis in framing U.S. policy towards Iran
"And terrorism? 'Reflecting both the hostility toward Iran within the national security bureaucracy and the influence of the Israeli line on its Iran policy, the Clinton administration also adopted the same a priori assumption that Iran was a threat to the issue of terrorism,' Porter writes. In other words, Clinton didn't need evidence. Porter provides several examples of Iran being falsely blamed for terrorism committed by someone else. The pattern of blame without evidence persists."
Related Topics: Bill Clinton, Iran, Israel
Boogey Bull, by Charley Reese, 28 Nov 2006
"... since there is no conceivable circumstance where all the terrorists in the world would collect in one convenient killing ground, you will never eliminate terrorists by military means. Terrorism is a product of politics and of injustice, real or perceived. Since human beings have no choice but to act on their perceptions, whether the injustice is real or perceived doesn't matter."
Emergencies: The Breeding Ground of Tyranny, by William L. Anderson, Future of Freedom, Nov 2006
Examines the long history of "emergency powers" claimed by U.S. Presidents, including recent examples such as sanctions stemming from the International Economic Powers Act and the so-called War on Terror
"Consider the so-called war on terrorism. Justice Department prosecutors have been quick to apply the 'terrorism' statutes to cases that clearly do not involve anything resembling 'terrorism.' Conservatives are even calling for editors of the New York Times to be arrested and tried for aiding and abetting terrorism by revealing that the NSA was monitoring and recording telephone conversations without obtaining warrants."
Freedom, Security, and the Roots of Terrorism against the United States, by Richard Ebeling, Future of Freedom, Oct 2001
Reflections on the 11 September attacks a few weeks after, discusses the reasons for the terrorist attacks and proposes certain measures to deal with the situation
"... few Americans seem willing to ask the deeper and more fundamental question of why it is that America is the constant target for terrorist attacks around the world and now at home. ... The fact is that America has aroused the anger of these terrorists and others like them who are waiting in the wings because of American political and military intervention around the world. ... Every foreign intervention undertaken by the U.S. government, therefore, produces a potential underground army of terrorists who now believe that winning their domestic battles requires defeating the foreign interventionist power."
"Free-Speech Zone", by James Bovard, The American Conservative, 15 Dec 2003
Provides various examples of "free speech zone" incidents as well as reactions in the U.S. and overseas
"The Secret Service is duty-bound to protect the president. But it is ludicrous to presume that would-be terrorists are lunkheaded enough to carry anti-Bush signs when carrying pro-Bush signs would give them much closer access. And even a policy of removing all people carrying signs—as has happened in some demonstrations—is pointless, since potential attackers would simply avoid carrying signs. Presuming that terrorists are as unimaginative and predictable as the average federal bureaucrat is not a recipe for presidential longevity."
How It All Began, by Charley Reese, 15 Jan 2007
"... terrorism is a tactic. When the Clinton administration decided to bomb Serbia, that was practicing terrorism. If you want to know what real terror is, just wait until, God forbid, you're on the ground and somebody is dropping high explosives on you. A human being is defenseless against an aerial attack. You can't, of course, declare war on a tactic ..."
How Star Wars Can Lead America Off the Dark Path, by Dan Sanchez, 4 May 2017
Examines the first two Star Wars trilogies, drawing parallels to 20th and 21st century U.S. and world history, and draws lessons from the films that could help the United States from "giving in to the dark side"
"They also want our indiscriminate violence to radicalize Muslims in order to boost their recruitment. Also like the Sith, the terrorists want to breed antagonism. As ISIS proclaimed in its own official magazine, the strategy of its terrorism is to polarize the whole world into two warring camps (Islamists and Crusaders) locked in a black-and-white clash of civilizations, with no 'gray zone' in between. 'If you're not with me, then you're my enemy,' said Anakin after he turned, echoing a sentiment expressed by President Bush, and explicitly seconded by Osama bin Laden."
It's Not War, by Sheldon Richman, 9 Oct 2006
Counters George W. Bush's contention about a "decisive ideological struggle" by contrasting it to what happened during World War II
"President Bush tells us that in the 'war on terror' our very civilization is at stake. ... he has not asked for 'sacrifices.' He realizes that if he imposes sacrifices, the fragile support for his 'war on terror' will evaporate. ... America is not under siege. There is no threat to its integrity as a society. No barbarians stand at the gates ready to overrun and subjugate us. What we call terrorism is not war, but criminal action. "
John Gilmore on inflight activism, spam and sarongs, by John Gilmore, Mikael Pawlo, GrepLaw, 18 Aug 2004
Topics discussed include: terrorism, the drug war, encryption, censorship, spam, the end-to-end principle, the right to travel, anonymity, secret FAA/TSA rules, blogs, copy protection, free software and the EFF
"[Is terrorism wrong] depends on the definition of terrorism. I like the CIA's definition of terrorism from Stansfield Turner's book 'Secrecy and Democracy'. It was something like, 'violence or force directed at a small group of people with the intent to influence a much larger group'. By that definition, the US government practices terrorism every time it arrests a medical marijuana smoker 'because it sends the wrong message to kids'. Is that wrong? I think so."
Machiavelli and U.S. Politics, Part 4: War, by Lawrence M. Ludlow, 22 Aug 2005
Part of a six-segment series examining The Prince vis-à-vis contemporary U.S. politics; this article covers Machiavelli's simple advice on war and contrasts it with that of James Madison and Robert Higgs in Crisis and Leviathan
"The next time you send money to your favorite charity, make sure that the U.S. government has not placed it on the hit-list of charities that are suspected of assisting terrorists. Of course, the U.S. government determines the definition of 'terrorism' as well as what constitutes a friendly rather than an enemy nation — which can change from moment to moment. ... Americans have been told by government officials 'to watch what we say' and that 'if you're not with us, you're with the terrorists.' ... Furthermore, we are constantly reminded that the terrorists 'hate us for our freedom and values.'"
Obama's Willful Foreign-Policy Blindness, by Sheldon Richman, 30 May 2013
Analyzes President Obama's 23 May 2013 speech at the National Defense University, later comments on Memorial Day and the reactions from Republicans
"Obama says he wants to understand the roots of terrorism, but he just repeats bromides. "These threats don't arise in a vacuum," he said ... Obama shows no understanding that Muslim violence has been a response to generations of Western and most recently American efforts to maintain hegemony in the Muslim world. These efforts have consisted in direct overt and covert intervention, backing for brutal and corrupt dictators and monarchs, and enabling of Israel's repression of the Palestinians. From Osama bin Laden on down, the perpetrators of anti-American violence have consistently said so."
Related Topics: Barack Obama, Republican Party
Pentagon Whistle-Blower on the Coming War With Iran, by Karen Kwiatkowski, James Harris, Josh Scheer, 27 Feb 2007
Interviewed by James Harris and Josh Scheer of Truthdig; topics include possible conflict with Iran, the Pentagon situation prior to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Office of Special Plans, Vietnam, terrorism and neoconservatism
"The problem is, it's immoral, it's illegal, it engenders hatred for Americans, contempt for Americans. It makes every American in the world a target for terrorism. ... Terrorism is, obviously it has a political intent, but terrorism almost always, in fact I think in every case, when the political solutions are offered, when the politics change, when the people themselves change, terrorism stops. Terrorism to the extent that it is a crime, should've been treated like a crime, but instead we made it a war. Well there is no war with terror, terrorism is a tactic, you don't make war against a tactic."
Slipped His Moorings, by Charley Reese, 9 Sep 2006
Discusses George W. Bush's distorted view of reality based on his comparison of bin Laden with Hitler, Stalin and Lenin
"Bush has so distorted his view of reality, he does not seem to realize that that most of our 'allies' in the Middle East are dictators, and the people he calls terrorists – Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah – participated in free elections. Even his so-called war on terror is phony. You can't wage a war against a tactic. Most of the groups he labels as terrorists are local groups with local grievances and don't think twice about us."
Related Topic: George W. Bush
Somalia: US Foreign Policy and Gangsterism, by Justin Raimondo, 29 Dec 2006
Provides background on Somalia from 1993 to 2006 (the warlords period up to the Islamic Courts) and insights into the Ethiopian invasion backed by the United States
"This latest American turnabout ... came about largely as the result of an imaginary confrontation between U.S. officials and supposed "terrorists." It happened a year ago, when U.S. government personnel investigating possible terrorist infiltration of Somalia landed at a makeshift airport just outside Mogadishu. No sooner had their plane set down uneasily on the tarmac than they heard shooting, and, assuming they were under fire, beat an unceremonious retreat. As far as the U.S. government was concerned, this was clearly an ambush, pulled off by terrorist elements possibly associated with al-Qaeda."
Related Topics: Ethiopia, Somalia
The Case for Optimism, by Butler Shaffer, 19 Oct 2001
Relates the change in people's behavior after the September 2001 attacks, some standing up for principle whereas others followed the herd, but in the end finding some cause for optimism
"Doesn't the separation between what one is willing to espouse and to live by also help to explain the current American experiences with terrorism? As long as American bombs were falling in other parts of the world, and no pain was being inflicted at home, most Americans were content to ignore the human costs of such activities. But now Americans are facing the harsh realities that my students had to encounter in the prospects for their grades: ideas have consequences (to borrow from Richard Weaver)."
The Colonial Venture of Ireland, Part 3, by Wendy McElroy, Future of Freedom, Jul 2004
Historical account of Ireland from 1912 to 1921, including the formation of the Irish Assembly, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty that concluded the Irish War of Independence
"The Irish Republican Brotherhood had split from the Dáil and soon became known as the Irish Republican Army, or IRA. Committed to direct violence, the IRA began a campaign of terror, to which the Northern Protestants responded by attacking Catholics. The British met IRA terror with terror. The newly recruited forces ... burned down the center of the city of Cork ... In August 1920, the Restoration of Order in Ireland Act was passed, relieving British forces in Ireland of almost all legal restraint. They tortured prisoners, sabotaged industries, killed family members of rebels, and shot civilians, including children."
The Confession Backfired, by Paul Craig Roberts, 17 Mar 2007
Discusses world reaction to the "ridiculous" confession of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, admitting responsibility for "31 planned and actual attacks", and posits that the U.S. government has virtually nothing on the hundreds of detainees in Gitmo and elsewhere
"The vast majority of detainees ... are hapless persons who happened to be outside their tribal or home territories and were kidnapped by criminal gangs or warlords who profited greatly at the expense of the naive Americans who offered bounties for 'terrorists.' The US government does not care that innocent people have been ensnared, because the US government desperately needs both to prove that there are vast numbers of terrorists and to demonstrate its proficiency in protecting Americans by capturing terrorists. Moreover, the US government needs 'dangerous suspects' ... to keep Americans in a state of supine fearfulness ..."
The Control Cult, by Butler Shaffer, 21 Apr 2007
Comments, in the wake of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, on those who believe the causal factors can be identified and controlled by the state, and how this extends not just to gun ownership but many other areas such as "global warming"
"In the months following 9/11, the control freaks came forth with their seemingly endless laundry list of additional mechanisms of control with which they promised to fight the 'terrorist' bogeyman. More police powers to enter people's homes — even without their knowledge; more wiretaps; more surveillance cameras in more places; more x-ray cameras; more background checks; more systems for probing into the human mind for motives and dispositions — an area of research now being perfected in England."
The Disrespect for Truth has Brought a New Dark Age, by Paul Craig Roberts, 29 Dec 2006
Compares past and present attitudes toward the truth and the impact of propaganda and other government actions on those attitudes, holding that "In America, truth has become partisan"
"If it takes a police state to fight terror, the country is lost even if Muslim terrorists are defeated. Americans have far more to fear from a homeland police state than from terrorists. The vast majority of the world's terrorists are the recent creations of Bush's invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and of Israel's invasion of Lebanon and brutality toward the Palestinians. Bush is simultaneously creating terrorists and a police state. It serves no one but the police to make their power unaccountable. ... The challenges that America faces are not terrorism and oil supply."
Related Topics: Middle East, Freedom of Speech
The Endless War on Terrorism, by Jacob Hornberger, 1 Sep 2004
Reflects on President George W. Bush response ("I don't think we can win it") when asked about the War on Terror
"The president was right the first time — the federal war on terror can no more be won than the federal war on drugs can be won, and efforts to 'win' the war are only making matters worse for the American people. ... the reason the president felt the war on terrorism will never end is he simply cannot imagine a scenario in which the U.S. government isn't meddling and intervening and killing in the Middle East ... In declaring that the war on terrorism can never be won, President Bush should have also mentioned that, coincidentally, the big beneficiary of all this is the federal government ..."
The Open Society and Its Worst Enemies, by Sheldon Richman, 16 Jan 2015
Considers the January 2015 events in Paris and contrasts the choice between an open, free society and imperialistic, militaristic foreign intervention
"It's self-serving and disingenuous for the rulers of NATO countries to blame so-called 'terrorism' on Islamic fanaticism. (The quotation marks indicate my reluctance to use a political term rigged so as never to apply to the U.S. government's conduct.) ... Politicians cynically exploit the public's understandable fear of violence ... So to whom do the people direct their anger — their rulers, who created these enemies, or 'the terrorists' (that is, the Muslims)? You know the answer, and so do the perpetrators. The purpose of 'terrorism' by marginalized groups is always the reaction and polarization it provokes. "
Related Topics: Imperialism, Society, War
The Power of Propaganda, by Paul Craig Roberts, 27 Dec 2006
Discusses the history of Chile from 1970 to 1990, covering Salvador Allende's election and the military coup d'état that resulted in the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, comparing the latter's actions to George W. Bush "war on terror"
"Unlike Bush's war on terror in which US troops are fighting abroad, Pinochet was confronted with an indigenous terrorist movement. Chilean terrorists engaged in assassinations and bombings of public infrastructure. Pinochet was able to put down real terrorist movements with less damage to Chile's civil liberties than Bush's trumped-up 'war on terror' ... According to the Rettig Commission, Chile’s struggle with terrorism resulted in 2300 (both sides) dead and missing. ... the torture used against Chilean terrorist suspects was perhaps less draconian than that used by the United States against suspected Muslim terrorists."
Related Topic: Chile
The Reagan Roadmap for Antiterrorism Disaster, by James Bovard, CounterPunch, 8 Oct 2003
Details events before and after the 23 Oct 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut
"At 6:20 A.M. on Sunday morning, October 23, 1983, a lone, grinning Muslim drove a Mercedes truck truck through a parking lot, past two Marine guard posts, through an open gate, and into the lobby of the Marine headquarters building in Beirut ... The explosion left a 30-foot-deep crater and killed 243 marines. A second truck bomb moments later killed 58 French soldiers. ... A surprise attack on a troop concentration in a combat zone does not fit most definitions of terrorism. However, Reagan perennially portrayed the attack as a terrorist incident and the American media and political establishment accepted that label."
The U.S. Empire Provokes Terrorism, by Sheldon Richman, 8 Aug 2013
Examines the claims and behavior of the Obama administration in response to "terrorist chatter" supposedly intercepted by them
"The United States has been fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan for a dozen years, but not because the former rulers are a direct threat to the American people. ... Al-Qaeda doesn't need Afghanistan. Bin Laden wasn't found there. Al-Zawahiri presumably isn't there. And the latest alleged unspecified threat comes from Yemen, 2,000 miles from Kabul. Doesn't that expose the 12 years of American-inflicted death and destruction, not to mention the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars, as a monumental waste of life and treasure?"
The War the Government Cannot Win, by Lew Rockwell, 1 May 2007
Discusses how government cannnot win the war on terror because economic law is more powerful than the state
"Terrorism is not something that any of us likes. We would all like to see a world without violence and bloodshed. This hardly distinguishes our generation from any that preceded. What is unique about our moment is that we live under a regime that has come to believe that the government itself can produce this result for us if we only give the government enough power, money, and managerial discretion to accomplish this goal. ... And I'm sorry ... but there is no way that the American government can kill every person on the planet who resents US imperialism. The attempt to do so will generate more, not less, terrorism."
Trivial Dispute: Obama versus the Interventionists, by Sheldon Richman, 30 May 2014
Examines the scant differences between President Obama and those advocating military intervention, in arguments for continued U.S. meddling in other countries' affairs
"More generally, the noninterventionist position recognizes that the threat of terrorism, which Obama says is the principal threat Americans face — is a direct consequence of long years of U.S. support for repressive, corrupt regimes in the Muslim world, the bombing and embargoing of Iraq, and the bankrolling of Israel's injustices against the Palestinians. Even American military officials acknowledge that antiterrorist measures — like drone killings in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia — create more enemies than they eliminate."
U.S. Regime Change, Torture, and Murder in Chile, by Jacob Hornberger, 24 Nov 2004
Discusses the unwelcome reception given to George W. Bush on a visit to Chile and various reasons for Chilean animosity towards the U.S. government, contrasting it with general opinion about these matters in the U.S. and the inaction in Congress
"Chileans remember the decades of military rule in their country, characterized by middle-of-the-night arrests, ... torture, executions, disappearances of suspected terrorists, and other human-rights abuses that eerily bring to mind the U.S. military's 'war on terrorism' policies ... the 'We're here to support you and not ask questions' attitude of Congress toward ... the U.S. government's 'war on terrorism' is no different than it was when the U.S. government was 'regime changing' and participating in the murder of an American journalist during the dark days of Chile's 'war on terrorism.'"
Related Topics: George W. Bush, Chile
'V for Vendetta', by Butler Shaffer, 20 Mar 2006
Review of the 2006 V for Vendetta film, praising both the story as well as the cinematography
"Prior to my attending this film, I encountered reviews by a few statists who saw the film as a 'defense of terrorism.' Such a comment reveals more about the reviewers than of the movie itself. Any kind of resistance to tyranny is bound to strike terror into the hearts of members of the established order. Thus were the American colonials and Mohandas Gandhi 'terrorists' to the British; the Warsaw ghetto uprisings and the French underground movements 'terrorist' actions to the German government; and the organized resistance of Algerians acts of 'terrorism' to the French."
Related Topics: Anarchism, V for Vendetta
Warring as Lying Throughout American History, by James Bovard, Future of Freedom, Feb 2008
Recounts how U.S. Presidents and their administrations since James Polk have lied about wars, from start to finish
"On May 4, 1986, Reagan bragged, 'The United States gives terrorists no rewards and no guarantees. We make no concessions; we make no deals.' But the Iranian arms-for-hostage deal that leaked out later that year blew such claims to smithereens. On November 13, 1986, Reagan denied initial reports of the scandal, proclaiming that the '"no concessions" [to terrorists] policy remains in force, in spite of the wildly speculative and false stories about arms for hostages and alleged ransom payments. We did not — repeat — did not trade weapons or anything else for hostages nor will we.'"
War, the God That Failed, by Lew Rockwell, 15 May 2004
Contrasts the general reaction to the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse vs. the mass deaths caused by the 2003 Iraq War, and the rationalizations made about the war with excuses made by early Bolsheviks
"In Karbala, just yesterday, for example, US tanks rolled around one of Islam's holiest cemeteries in one of Islam's holiest cities, firing at anything that moved. Here is a place that is home to the shrine to Mohammad's cousin Ali Ibn Abi Talib, and Shiite teaching is that people buried here immediately enter paradise. Anyone who believes that such activities constitute 'anti-terrorist' measures is a blooming idiot. In fact, such activities, and this war in general, could not have been better designed to create and inspire global terrorism."
Related Topics: Communism, Iraq War (2003), War
What's to Lose?, by Sheldon Richman, 20 Apr 2007
Explains the benefits to most Americans if the U.S. government would admit defeat and withdraw its troops from Iraq
"The losers would include the gang of neoconservatives who envision America as a 'benevolent hegemon,' a good empire that is indispensable to bringing order and enlightenment to the benighted people of the globe. ... While it was rationalized as a way to make Americans safe in an unruly world, we can see clearly now that it has done the opposite. It has created terrorists and the rationale for terrorism. Even the government admits that terrorism is on the rise. The terrorist risk to Americans was always small, but if anything, the neocon strategy has made the risk larger not smaller."
Why They Hate Us, by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom, Feb 2008
Examines the myth that the United States is hated because Americans "are free and represent democracy"
"Every imperial power has been the target of what is called 'terrorism.' But this term itself should make us suspicious. To be sure, horrific crimes against innocents are included under that label. But one must ask how legitimate the concept is in light of the fact that applying it to any U.S. conduct is impermissible virtually by definition."
Related Topics: Imperialism, United States


The Antiwar Republican, by Ron Paul, Scott Horton, 4 Apr 2007
Transcript and MP3 audio recording; topics include foreign policy principles, isolationism, the Bush Doctrine, the "war on terror", the British sailors captured by Iran, presidential authority over state National Guard units and Guantanamo Bay detainees
"So the war on terrorism is real. There is a clash, but I think we would be out of danger, if we would never have imposed our will on them by going over there and being in their face. I happen to believe almost everything that Osama bin Laden wrote about why they attacked us. It was nothing more than blowback for our policies over there – having bases on holy land. I think we would be a lot better off if we just had a more neutral policy. ... Al-Zawahiri has been reported as writing ... that he hopes and prays we don't leave Iraq. ... If all of a sudden we would leave, it would be very detrimental to their policy."

Cartoons and Comic Strips

Antiterrorism, by Clay Bennett, The Christian Science Monitor, 2006
Casualty Quiz, by Dan Wasserman, The Boston Globe, 25 Jul 2006
He says if you don't take a bite ..., by Wiley Miller, 21 Sep 2006
Invading Iraq, by Clay Bennett, The Christian Science Monitor, Oct 2006


Terrorism and Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice and Peace to Rid the World of Evil
    by James Bovard, 2003


Enough Is Enough!, by Ron Paul, 17 Nov 2010
Short speech announcing new legislation to curb the TSA and the notion that Americans have accepted being treated like cattle
Related Topic: Transportation

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Terrorism" as of 29 Oct 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.