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Do we know what it is, and do we even


So, what is it, exactly?

Merriam Webster says, the use of violent acts to
frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to
achieve a political goal.
Oxford says, the use of violent and intimidation in
pursuit of political aims.
Wikipedia says, defined as violent acts intended to
create fear, perpetrated for a religious, political, or
ideological goal and which deliberately targets or
disregards the safety of civilians.

So, what is it, exactly?

United Nations says Nothing.
The term terrorism has been difficult to define because
terrorism has evolved. Angus Martyn (writing for the
Australian parliament) states that no universally agreed,
legally binding,criminal law definition of terrorism
currently exists.
Regardless of thedifferences between governments on
the definition of terrorism, what is clear and whatwe
can all agree onis any deliberate attack on innocent
civilians, regardless of one's cause, is unacceptable
andfits into the
definition of terrorism.
-- former Secretary General Kofi Annan

A Brief History

How did we get here?

Iraq/Kuwait Conflict


George H. W. Bush elected U.S.



Iraq and Kuwait gets into a conflict

over oil
U.S. takes notice as burning Kuwaiti
oil wells means less oil for Americans

How did we get here?

Gulf War I


U.S. attacks Iraq in retaliation for the previous

34 nations involved, including Canada
Coalition casualties = 341
Iraqi casualties = 20,000+
Saddam Hussein remains in power


Bill Clinton elected President

Does not continue the conflict

How did we get here?

Its on

George W. Bush (son of former President) elected

Nine months later 9/11 attacks


19 attackers including 15 Saudis; no Iraqis

Casualties = 2,996
One month later, invasion of Afghanistan
Casualties to date = 20,700+

How did we get here?

Gulf War II

Where is bin Laden?

U.S. and U.K. go it alone on this one


Ostensibly a search for WMDs

Stealthily tied to the 9/11 attacks
No weapons found, a country destroyed, a region in
Casualties = 1 million Iraqis; 5,000 coalition

How did we get here?

What now?


Barak Obama
elected President
2 conflicts to

How did we get here?

What did we achieve?


A climate of discontent in the

Middle East
Civilians ready to be martyrs for a
War perceived as an attack on
Instability moving to every region
of the world

The Case Study

A terrorist vs. a non-terrorist

Nidal Hassan

James Holmes


American (born and


American (born and


Date of birth

September 8, 1970

December 13, 1987





B.S. in Biochemistry,
M.D., Psychiatrist

B.S. in Neuroscience,
Ph.D. student


Middle class business


Middle class scientist

and a nurse


2 brothers

1 sister

Shooting location

Texas Army base

Colorado movie theatre


November 5, 2009

July 12, 2012


13 dead, 42 wounded
Total = 45

12 dead, 70 wounded
Total = 82


Defended himself,
received the death

Trial pending, multiple


James Eagan Holmes

Nidal Malik Hassan

Why is this man a


U.S. Senate investigation into the Texas shooting

Worst terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11
Other attacks were not investigated by the Senate and no
other attacker was considered a terrorist.

Mass Shootings since 9/11




April 2007




April 2009

New York


November 2009




July 2012




December 2012



September 2013



The Ethical Theories

Kantian Ethics
Kant argued that humans should never be treated as a
means to an end. For terrorists that is the opposite of what
they believe. Therefore in this theory terrorism would
definitely be seen as unethical.
Universality acting with a universal law in mind, e.g. do
unto others as you would have them do unto you. In this
instance, terrorism could be seen as ethical.
Respect of persons terrorism would be seen as morally
wrong as it does not respect anyone.

Theory focuses on the greatest happiness principle in
producing the best possible outcome for all involved. As
such this can go either or both way depending on which
branch of the theory is used.
E.g. The ANC in South Africa fought against the apartheid
system that was used for many years. In this instance, this
would be seen as ethical
E.g. A random suicide bomber detonating a bomb in a
crowded marketplace. Not so good. No favourable outcome,
therefore unethical.
Act and Rule all is fair in love and war. No rules are being
followed and there is no good outcome.

Virtue Ethics
Terrorism would be seen as absolutely wrong. None of the
parties involved are concerned either with building or
maintaining virtue.
The terrorists main focus is to achieve his goal by any
means necessary, as such morality and virtuosity are not a

Feminist Ethics
One theory that is not exactly based in hard and fast rules.
As such, terrorism can be seen as either good or bad
depending on the circumstances.
Pro: When there are instances of the little guy fighting back
against those in positions of power, terrorism could be seen
in a positive light. This would be a case of correcting
imbalances and taking into account social realities.
Con: If the terrorist acts seek to advance the same tired
principles that have disenfranchised women and minorities,
then they will be seen as unethical.

Ethics of Care
Ethics of care would see terrorism as morally wrong, as the
tenets of this theory are care and compassion as a pathway
to an ethical system.
There are no instances where there could be shades of grey
because terrorism demands that humanity be put on the
backburner for a more important cause.
No One Love, no Kumbaya! Wrong, wrong, wrong.

What say you, McPherson?

Terrorism is not necessarily a

bad thing

Each instance must be

examined on its own merits

Does not subscribe to the

common view of separating
war acts from terrorist acts

Believes they both produce

the same results, i.e.
mayhem, dead bodies, fear

In certain instances,
terrorism can support very
noble causes, e.g. the ANC
fight against Apartheid in
South Africa

If we believe that war can be

justifiable on the grounds of just
cause and the availability of less
harmful means we must take
seriously whether these same
grounds could ever justify
The failures of the dominant view
(i.e. war good, terrorism bad)
should lead us to adopt either a
more critical attitude toward war or
a less condemnatory attitude
toward terrorism.
-- Lionel K. McPherson

Kantian or Utilitarian?

Speak up

First they came for the Socialists, and I

did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists,
and I did not speak out
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did
not speak out
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for meand there was
no one left to speak for me.
Martin Niemller


1. Why is the word terrorism used when anyone but first world governments
fight for their cause?
2. Is it because we have been secure for so long we just accepted that as
the way things are supposed to be?
3. How would you react if Canada was attacked in the way that Iraq or
Afghanistan has? Would you be able to rationalize it? Would you want to
do something about it?
4. Is it ever ok to judge an entire group based on the actions of a few? Is
Christianity exempt from that rule?


Cahn, Steven M.Exploring Ethics: An Introductory
Anthology. New York: Oxford UP, 2009. Print.