Origins of Terrorism

This week’s lessons juxtapose the use of terrorism as a defense against the choice
of violence for the sake of being violent. The two sides of this issue, which are articulated by
Crenshaw and Post in the Reich “Origins of Terrorism” book, echo a fundamental rift in
modern society about the basis of terrorism.
Your discussion assignment is as follows:
While Crenshaw argues that terrorism is a rational choice made to achieve the goals of the
group, Post argues that terrorists are driven by psychological forces that attract people to
violence. His arguments have caused controversy because some people believe that it seeks
to absolve terrorists from the responsibility of their acts. For this discussion, chose a side
and present your rationale for believing its ideas have merit. It doesn’t matter which side
you choose here, but you must choose one for your initial post due by Wednesday at 11:59
p.m. (Eastern) and defend it using your readings as support for your stand. No fence
straddling; you must choose a side to earn points.
These are controversial and emotional topics. In this upper-level undergraduate university
course, please to formulate the position statements based on available facts and not
personal beliefs.

In recent years, attention to terrorism has increased tremendously. However, there is no
reason to justify that terrorism will cease to exist in the future. The key aspect of dealing with
terrorism is to understand its trigger and root causes. Researchers believe that it is important to
consider the forces that attract people to violence. In his research, Post argues that terrorists are
driven by psychological forces that attract people to violence while Crenshaw argues that
terrorism is a rationale choice made to achieve the goals of the group (Reich, 1998). This essay
supports Crenshaw point of view, which affirm that the trigger cause of terrorism is to achieve
the goals of the group.
Crenshaw emphasizes that terrorism is the product of political choice, which provide
opportunities for violence to happen. The author believes that people engage in terrorism in the
name of group based on the religion, ideology, ethnicity, and nationalism. Some also engage in
terrorism because of human motivations on social-psychological and economic dimensions. In
essence, Crenshaw argument does not only provide insights on what causes terrorism, but
expands on the elements of group that motivates people to such behaviours. The author’s
findings highlight that the patterns and cycles of terrorism may be as a result of a strategic
conceptions instead of a common condition or circumstance. Although Post discusses about the
psychological research of what trigger terrorism, he lacks explanations and arguments of the
activities that causes terrorism. Post believes that political terrorists are driven by psychological
forces that compel people to commit the act. However, the author fails to recognize that there are
other reasons or activities that push people to commit terrorism such as defending religion,
ethnicity, or a nation. Thus, Crenshaw’s argument seems more valid because it discusses that
terrorism is the product of political choice that psychologically affects people to do the act.

MOTIVATIONS 2

Reference

Reich, W. (1998). Origins of terrorism: Psychologies, ideologies, theologies, states of mind.
Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press.

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