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The Contender
Con (against)
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That terrorism meets it's goals.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/6/2008 Category: Society
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,015 times Debate No: 5670
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (3)




Before any argument is put forward, a definition is a necessity in this debate.
The word 'goals' is certainly a word that needs explaining. Terrorists, or freedom fighter's goals are not to incite terror, or fear, as many would suggest. In fact, terror is just used as a weapon to achieve alternative goals. These goals are usually either; an attempt to gain awareness, to aid the process of social upheaval, or quite simply, to destroy, and in doing so, send a powerful message.

So, with the definition in place, we can begin.

I will give two recent examples of terrorism meeting its goals, and an explanation of how and why.

My first example is quite controversial, but extremely relevant, and topical; the 9/11 attacks. The terrorist's goals on this occasion were quite clear. To attack the most powerful nation in the world, and in the process, send a chilling message. The world is no longer afraid of you America, they are those of us who can and will stand up to your domineering imperialism. And they succeeded in spectacular fashion. The attacks devastated the American psyche, and began 'The War on Terror'. But the big thing was that America became horribly scared of small militant groups or nations.

My second example is terrorism on completely the other side of the spectrum. When Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and a group of around 80 guerrillas invaded Cuba, and set about taking on the oppressive dictatorship of Batista, killing hundreds as they went, they committed acts of terrorism. Their terrorism was classified as a social uprising in a violent form. And it certainly met its goals, a communist revolution took place, and the people were freed from the previous aggressive dictatorship.

As you can see from these examples, and there are many, many more, terrorism nearly always meets its goals.


I'd like to start by thanking my opponent for taking an interest in this topic, and would like to further thank him for taking an interest in I see that this is his first debate, and hope that it will be one of many.

Have a disagreement with how pro defines goals, and would like to put forth my criticism for him to consider so that we can arrive that a neutral definition. A goal is a desired outcome. In the definition of goal which pro provides us, he also states that terrorism does not have terror or fear as a goal. I cannot accept this definition and I urge that the con argument accepts the definition of goal as "a desired outcome"

Pro has put forth the resolution that terrorism meets it's goals, and has provided to examples of when he feels that terrorism has been successful.

Pro has neglected to define what constitutes terrorism. I have borrowed the below definition from

1.the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes.
2.the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
3.a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.

Terrorism is a method of achieving a goal. According to this definition, it can only achieve goals through intimidation, coercion, fear, and forcing submission. A successful guerrilla effort does not equate to terrorism. Consider Wendell Fertig's efforts in WWII.

The third portion of pro's argument is that terrorism is a successful method of meeting it's goals. Like any method, it's not always successful. Unless the terror is for the sake of terror, the goal is not necessarily reached.

In the case of the Oklahoma City Bombing, many lives were lost and much terror was created. However, the ultimate goal of sparking an American revolution based off of race was never achieved.

The Uni-Bomber created a great deal of pain and suffering, but the ultimate goal of pushing society towards a rejection of technology and mat
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting the debate, Patrick. Good luck.

You have disagreed with my definition of goals, and then suggested that we debate with goals meaning 'a desired outcome'. I'd just like to point out that my def. did not dispute this at all, just elaborated upon the words goals. My opponent is stating an obvious, I was going into more detail, to make this debate clearer.

I accept that I did not define terrorism clearly enough, but a dictionary definition is certainly not correct or necessary. Terrorists use fear, as a weapon, to achieve other goals. As I previously stated, fear itself is not usually the goal of a terrorist attack.

Can you honestly say that the weathermen's terrorist attacks, for they were terrorist attacks, were simply to incite fear? Of course not. They used fear as a weapon to attempt to cause a mass social upheaval, and place sufficient pressure upon the Govt. of the time.

So my definition of terrorism; the use of violent attacks, alongside of powerful weapon of fear, to achieve a social goal.

I hope that my opponent accepts this definition, as it is a more accurate representation of terrorism, in my opinion.

With this definition in place, it is clear that terrorism, on most occasions does meet its goals.


I am glad that you have chosen to accept the definition of goal as I provided. While your definition did not dispute that a goal is a desired outcome, such a phrase was absent from your definition which rather than defining goal attempted to define the goals of terrorism, or rather what their goals are not.

Terrorism is a tactic. Fear is a standard result of the tactic. Terrorism is not a weapon. Terrorism describes the way in which a weapon is used. Example: You can use a covertly placed bomb to destroy a railroad bridge, or you can us a bomb on board a passenger train to destroy it. In both cases the bomb is the weapon, but a different tactic is employed.

While terrorism certainly causes fear, the "social goal" of a terrorist attack is often not achieved. The numerous bombings of clinics specializing in Womens' Health, and the murder of qualified OGBYNs did not help secure popular support for the constitutional overturn of Roe V Wade. It actually worked against the goal by making more legitimate organizations appear to be in league with fanatics.

Terrorism - like every tactic - is prone to failure. For example, the rather infamous shoe bomber didn't successfully achieve anything. Or many airlines successfully shot down by guerrilla organizations which have achieved nothing other than a loss of life and were quickly forgotten.

Your argument is an attempt to romanticize a tactic which typically involves the death of civilians and innocents. This tactic is usually employed by individuals who have no regard for human life due to their fanatical devotion to their cause. Those that use this tactic believe that indiscriminate destruction can bring about their social goals, unless the goal is chaos or destruction, their goals are usually not met.

Not all insurgencies practice terrorist tactics. Not all terrorist attacks are violent.

Do you suggest Weatherman toppled the United States Gov?
Debate Round No. 2


The_Godfather forfeited this round.


To reiterate my argument in this final round...

Pro has attempted to align the definitions of goal and terrorism in such a way that they are not neutral. While attempting to romanticize the tactic of terrorism, he has failed to acknowledge the short comings and failures of the tactic.

Simply put, terrorism is a tactic and like all tactics, prone to failure. It does not always bring about its goals, and in fact it is more likely to impede the progress of your agenda, whether it be social or military based.

An organized guerrilla effort does not equate to terrorism.

While a goal usually involves creating some kind of change, not all change created by the tactic is the desired goal.

Terrorism is usually employed by zealots and fanatics. The goals placed forward by zealots and fanatics usually are set in such an extreme that they are impossible to bring about. The victory conditions put forth by zealots and fanatics usually involve such absolutes that they are unreachable.

More often than not, terrorism fails to meet the goals initially put forth by the terrorists due to their over zealous victory conditions.

Terrorism is an easy tactic to employ and often times the individuals resopnsible for it have had no formal, nor informal education in the various in depths philosophies and docturines which have been developed by great military minds over thousands of years of human conflict. As such, they are not able to anticipate the results of their actions to the fullest force.

All warfare is chaos, and a victor wins by controlling both their chaos and that of their enemies. Terrorism can not succeed in a vacuum where it is the only tactic employed. Terrorism can only achieve destruction - other tactics must be employed to bring about something other than destruction, fear and terror.
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by Patrick_Henry 8 years ago
It does make me sad when the people who vote don't read the arguments.

It makes me even sadder that right now there are three people that use this website that think terrorism is a way of achieving anything.

What statesmen must be among us...
Posted by protea 8 years ago
I certainly see where the godfather is coming rom. terrorists do have 'goals' to accomplish when they seize peoples attention however, the problem comes into being is that it is not the most effective way to get their message through. In so many instances including the 9/11 attack, perhaps the Muslim bombers wanted to gain the worlds attention, and not only send a message, but warn people of their power and their contempt at being exploited. yet as we see, some years later, all it did was tight airport security around the world, allow the us government to openly display contempt for the people of that origin. Lastly we suffered the most from the attacks? It was the ordinary people, Muslims who collect their pension funds, stand in queues, attend public schools, are victimized. Its the normal people who bear the brunt, and they are not even affiliated to these criminals.
Posted by Patrick_Henry 8 years ago
My name sake?

Pish. I think you are too broadly throwing around terrorist. If you want to define anyone who resists government as a terrorist, that's fine and dandy but you'd be doing injustice to a great deal of men and women throughout history.

While Lenin remarked that the only way to bring change is terror, the modern definitions and perceptions of terror hardly include organized efforts designed at usurping power so that a social justice can be served.

But, if you wish to conclude that men of the cut of George Rogers Clarke were terrorists - you must also conclude that all acts of war and violence are acts of terror which is simply not the case. To believe that all acts of war are acts of terror is an indication that you likely don't understand the logistical side of war, as well as the issues caused by mass concentration of force and how those issues can serve to resolve conflict.

You also presume that the goals of Patrick Henry was the foundation of the United States of America, forgetting that he was one of the most fiercest advocates against the Constitution and during the process of ratification, he certainly didn't resort to bombing the Virginia Assembly.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 8 years ago
Uh... great, didn't Con's namesake work closely with terrorists- and accomplish his goals?
Posted by Logical-Master 8 years ago
Any debate can be lost. ;-)
Posted by Patrick_Henry 8 years ago
I do.
Posted by JBlake 8 years ago
I don't see how Pro can lose this debate.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by JBlake 7 years ago
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Vote Placed by Patrick_Henry 8 years ago
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