The Instigator
SocialistRI82
Pro (for)
Losing
9 Points
The Contender
broes2863
Con (against)
Winning
12 Points

Terrorism is Sometimes Justified

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/12/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,569 times Debate No: 1728
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (11)
Votes (7)

 

SocialistRI82

Pro

Terrorism is a relative word. One thats meaning is determined by what side of the given issue you are on. The people we normally think of as terrorists oddly enough define themselves as freedom fighters, armies of the people, and patriots. To their opponents they are terrorists and barbarians. Regardless of who is or who is not a terrorist, is it ever justified? I will say that from our stand point as Americans it is difficult for us to answer that question. We have never faced the harsh environments which often cause the formation of terrorist groups. In Ireland for example, the people were suffering from poverty, exploitation from Britain, discriminatory laws, and a famine. Over hundreds of years these tension began to boil and rage. Eventually the IRA and other similar groups began to emerge in defense of these people. The IRA then began a near century of guerrilla warfare against Britain. I feel that given the circumstances of the parties involved it was completely justified. The people themselves lacked the ability through diplomats to bring about change. They lacked the field army to challenge Britain, they lacked the economy to challenge Britain. I will say that they use terrorism only as a tool in an evolutionary process to achieve their goals. They believed that this was the only way that they had forward to challenge the injustices. Looking at history I doubt very much that any meaningful change could have been brought about without the IRA's use of terror tactics.
Now onto the current issue of terrorism. The Islamic jihadists who have mobilized and declared an Islamic call for jihad against the "west". Can we conclude that any of their tactics are justified? To you and I perhaps not, but for the people who are taking part in it, thats entirely different. Let me explain for I know many of you out there are wondering why/how I am going to justify their actions. Imagine yourself as a young Palestinian boy/girl. You are growing up in occupied Gaza. You suffer injustice nearly daily. Food is scarce, money, well your family has minimal. You are in a system that will inevitably lead to failure. You grow to harbor hatred for those who inflict this injustice and those who aid in it. Similar to the Irish they feel as though they have no outlets to pursue to achieve their goals. Given that there is no way to defend yourself/country through conventional military service what other options does he/she have? Many will point to Ghandi's peaceful campaign that won India its independence, but the circumstances where much different. India would have cost Britain huge amounts of money to maintain a presence and defend. The British had no lasting need (resources) from India. Israel's very existence comes through removal of Palestinians. One can see how that may lead to violent actions. Imagine being told your family no longer lives here, this is no longer your country. Palestinians have tried repeatedly to pursue a peaceful means. Obviously none of which brought about any lasting peace/change. When left with no other weapons to defend oneself, people can be justified in turning to arms, and terror tactics to bring about the change they desire. From a moral perspective obviously this causes some raised eyebrows. I am not going to attempt to defend attacks on innocent people through bus bombs or indiscriminate killings. I am talking about attacks on economic infrastructure, political figures, and government officials. Basically people who are in direct involvement with the struggle. In the case of Al-Queda they are not defending the freedom of their people of fighting against extreme injustice, they fight simply to fulfill religious goals. They are not confined to a single country or a single enemy, they fight against an ideology. They have legitimate means to stage a peaceful campaign. Terror tactics in that case are not justified.
I'll leave it here and give you a chance to respond before going any further.
broes2863

Con

Would please give an exact definition of terrorism so to better clarify the debate?

The actions of terrorists commonly include murder. So, you must thereby justify murder.

As I see it....

The intent of Terrorism:
To inflict fear into the enemy in hopes that they will waver and falter so as to provide a victory for the terrorists in which they may achieve their objective.

The Means of Terrorists:
Via displays of inhumanity and by proving their capacity to violate justice in order to achieve their objective. (usually murder, kidnapping, bombings...etc.)

The Ends of Terrorism:
The only certain end in terrorism is death. A victory or defeat is unpredictable and the whole cannot be justified by an uncertain end.
Debate Round No. 1
SocialistRI82

Pro

For the purpose of this debate the definition of terror will be as followed:Terrorism, in the modern sense,[1] is violence, the threat of violence, or other harmful acts committed for political or ideological goals.[2] Most definitions of terrorism include only those acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for an ideological goal (as opposed to a lone attack), and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants (civilians). Many definitions also include only acts of unlawful violence.(http://en.wikipedia.org...)
You had just said that I must justify murder, yet I don't believe I do. Is it considered murder when a soldier dies in a war? I feel the term "murder" may be very subjective in this case. It depends on what side of the issue you were on as to whether you would view "terror" acts as murder, or casualties of war. That aside I will still go forth and justify the acts of violence and in some cases even killings.
Killings: Although the most extreme method of terror, it is often employed to send the ultimate message. Often times this tactic is reserved for the most important targets. I will not advocate indiscriminate killings as I do not see it as justifiable in any sense. For the purpose of this argument I am referring to simply political/military/economic targets. Since at its most fundamental base terrorism aims to achieve a political or military victory it would be fair to say that the immediate targets to achieving such an aim would be the targets I mentioned above. In the case of the Irish Conflict many secret communications had been made over the years. Both the IRA and its split-off groups had attempted on numerous occasions to resolve their differences through dialog. As it became apparent to them through the inaction of the British government, and the refusals on key issues the need for further fighting had become inevitable. Like any government engaged in diplomacy dialog was considered the first step. What are these people to do when diplomacy leads to no results? In matters of freedom time is something that people don't have. Left with no further options, and having exhausted every other avenue of dialog they were left with no choice. The injustice that they were being exposed to could no longer be tolerated. In this circumstance the people were left with no other way. The only language they knew the British would listen to was violence. Moving away from the dialog and into the war end of the struggle new tactics had to be furnished. Many of these revised tactics led to sniping operations, bombings of economic interests, and assassinations of political figures. Can this be justified? Yes. It is justified in that they are fighting a war of freedom. It is no different than any peoples fighting injustice and having to resort to extreme measures to wage that fight. The people dying are those who stand in the way of the achievement of the given goals. In this case it is more of a matter of war, than a matter of terror. When the aim is to achieve the freedom/equality/justice that people are inherently entitled to, then the deaths of men/women who perpetrate these evils is justified.
I am basically arguing that "terrorism" is as a last resort justified. In history many revolutions have taken place that required violence be used. Without these revolutions much of the progress we have in ways of liberty/freedom/justice would be lost. In many cases it is the only option people have. Will people die as a result? Yes. Innocents? Yes. If we are to argue that terrorism is not a "war" between two parties, and that its actions constitute murder than we must reaccess our definitions of war, and murder. In theory any intentional killing of another human being is murder. Are we to prosecute military pilots whose bombs go astray and kill hundreds? Of course not, they are in a war, people die. Well the same can be said with regards to terrorism. To the parties involved it is a war. The government of Britain had no problems with executing the IRA prisoners, of torturing prisoners during interrogations. They considered it a war, and in war nothing is pretty.
I feel terrorism is just another name for war. For those who agree with the "terrorists" aims they are nothing more than freedom fighters. To their enemies they are terrorists. They are justified in doing anything necessary to achieve their aims given their inability to use alternative legitimate measures to achieve their goals. Since the lack the ability to conduct the battle in any other way they are justified in the tactics they must employ.
broes2863

Con

Ok, well justifying killing works too... lol.

But your justification of killing is still flawed because it is based upon a presumed end. You stated that the terrorists kill important targets in accomplishing their mission, but there is no way to insure that such an action would without doubt provide absolute and unconditional victory. For instance, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated (killed) by a terrorist suicide bomb. She was definitely a political target and opposition to some, but that doesn't mean that her death guaranteed the idealogical goal of the terrorist. That scenario is still being played out. It is easy to look back and say "Yes, they were justified because they won..." but it is not the same when dealing with a value debate that occurs in the very present. But even looking into the past you cannot justify based upon the now-known end because at the time of the action (terrorism) the end was still undefined.

Therefore, your argument that the means of killing is justified by the end result falls because the end result is never certain no matter how good the odds.

Which brings forth your next argument that terrorism was the last resort and final option:

How do you ever know if you run out of options?

I'm obviously not as well versed on the certain incident that you continue to refer to, but I do know that there have been times when rescue came from outside the persecuted, many times.

First example: United States Abolitionist Movement
All seemed lost for the slaves and they were beginning to give up fighting the "white man", but then some free Americans began helping the slaves and even offered safe houses on the underground railroad. To the slaves, it seemed violence was the last option, but they gained help from the outside, thus proving that the "last resort" can never really be last because there is always a future.

Second example: Abolitionist movement in Britain
Slavery was abolished in Britain without a Civil War like the US had and was achieved through the efforts of a single free white man.

Again, I'm not using the examples as exact references, but they explain the point that the same uncertainty applies to the amount of options a group has.

"Many of these revised tactics led to sniping operations, bombings of economic interests, and assassinations of political figures. Can this be justified? Yes. It is justified in that they are fighting a war of freedom. It is no different than any peoples fighting injustice and having to resort to extreme measures to wage that fight. The people dying are those who stand in the way of the achievement of the given goals."

^I will show why the above is unjustifiable in the way stated.

You relate the intent of the means as freedom.... Just.
You relate the means to killings/bombings....Unjust.
You relate the end to the achievement of the goal...Undefined.

Furthermore:
"The people dying are those who stand in the way of the achievement of the given goals."

^ The achievement of the given goals is not guaranteed.

Hitler's campaign killed people in order to produce a perfect world of Aryan Descent. In his view, the end justified the means, but he is commonly considered a "crazed killer" because his end failed. If his end had been achieved do you think that anyone would second guess the means? Of course not because they would have gotten what they wanted. This, however, would be looking back after the end was achieved, not whilst it was still undefined.

So, after all of the above it comes down to two things:
1. You cannot justify the means with and undefined end as all ends are undefined.
2. You cannot assert that there is a last resort because there are endless possibilities that may be unseen to the involved party.

I'm not trying to say that you're not right, but the arguments that have been presented have been proven logically flawed.
Debate Round No. 2
SocialistRI82

Pro

SocialistRI82 forfeited this round.
broes2863

Con

I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do now, but it said to post a new argument so that's what I'm doing. lol.
Debate Round No. 3
SocialistRI82

Pro

SocialistRI82 forfeited this round.
broes2863

Con

Hello? Are you still out there? Well I guess this is my last argument... I kind of want him to post an argument to see how he would have countered.

Lassy Come Home! lol.
Debate Round No. 4
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by broes2863 9 years ago
broes2863
I too am a LD debater.

Justified and justice are the same. If something can be justified it means it can be made to uphold justice.

Webster's:
Justify
1 a: to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable
2 a: archaic : to administer justice

Also I don't understand how something can be right and wrong at the same time in the way you put it.
Posted by armychick 9 years ago
armychick
I'm a debater and we are debating nukes in LD so the justified comes in a lot.

also u said justice... u mean justified?
Posted by broes2863 9 years ago
broes2863
where did that definition of justice come from?
Posted by reachingformore 9 years ago
reachingformore
True, but we did tar and feather those darn tax collectors. :)
Posted by armychick 9 years ago
armychick
okay first off..
justified is defined as right but still wrong...
so by voting pro you are voting for terrorism and against it.
so by looking at it that way my vote has to go to con because of the wording.
Posted by SocialistRI82 9 years ago
SocialistRI82
broes lets continue this. i was sent to new hampshire by work this last week. but yea whenever you are ready challenge me with this again.
Posted by Daxitarian 9 years ago
Daxitarian
"Are we to prosecute military pilots whose bombs go astray and kill hundreds? Of course not, they are in a war, people die. Well the same can be said with regards to terrorism."

Here is what is wrong with terrorism: Suppose I had a conflict with you, but instead of dealing with you directly, I murder your daughter. That's terrorism--you use innocent people as your means to achieve your ends.

Now suppose I am Jack Bauer. I see a suicide bomber getting on to a school bus. I rush over to shoot and kill him before he can inflict harm, but in so doing I accidentally kill your daughter, but saved 50 other innocent people. That would be a just use of violence. There are other factors, such as how much collateral damage there is and the intent of using violence, but you get the idea.

So to say any military action is terrorism is not to give a very nuanced view on how violence is used. If anyone is really interested, they should read the last chapter in the book, "The Code of The Warrior" about if terrorists are warriors.
Posted by broes2863 9 years ago
broes2863
Yes, they would have been traitors, but they still fought with respect; in formations and in a somewhat organized militia. Yes, they used Guerrilla warfare, but that was to attack the army as more of surprise attacks than suicide bombings and assassinations. So, I'm not so sure you could call them terrorists in the sense that SocialistR182 was using.
Posted by reachingformore 9 years ago
reachingformore
Agreeing with SportsGuru...if we had lost the revolution, our founding fathers would have hung for treason and have been called traitors, and to the extent terrorists.

Scary.
Posted by SportsGuru 9 years ago
SportsGuru
one could say that those who participated in the american revolution were terrorists
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