Generating paper ideas: War and Terrorism

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Reply Fri 26 Sep, 2008 03:12 pm
Hi again! The second paper I need to write something (anything) on is from a "Phil of War and Terrorism" perspective. Unlike the other paper (see other similarly titled thread), I have an over-abundance of ideas to write on this topic.

Unfortunately, when I get that way, I have a hard time narrowing it down and just deciding on I've decided that I am just going to take the most appealing-to-write-on topic that is generated in this thread (and for which I have the most base knowledge and sources) and write Smile

Please, and thank you again!
Reply Fri 26 Sep, 2008 05:38 pm
When is military action justified? This is a really loaded question. As such, it will be very hard to argue for your point. I have found that if you simply argue the reasons for war and during war (jus ad bello andHannah Arendt called "Power and Violence." I remember reading it in University, it is very good. It's complex, but you can twist the articles conclusion in a number of ways. It breaks down the issue into abstract terms so that you have a good deal of latitude with them. Once you develop an abstract thesis, like how you are for or against military justification for example, you can give supplemental material to support that thesis.

If you remember, George Bush gave an address to the nation on September the 11th. I'm sure you can find a transcript online of the speech. In it, he outlines the justifications for war. It is at this point that you can introduce the essential element of Jus ad bello and jus ad bellum. DO NOT OVERLOOK THESE NOTIONS. These are PRIME ideas in political philosophy, and you will get flak for not addressing them. Then, for the bulk and conclusion of your paper, I would suggest Richard Falk's "Defining a Just War."
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 01:13 am
I'd make a paper concerning the simularities of war and terrorism. Terrorism concerns the purposefull disruption of lives to accomplish a political 'goal' (<--deontology btw, as with all negative issues). War is the disruption of a society for political 'goals'. 99% of the wars nowadays no longer have the 'goal' to subdue a people or occupy a country because that has proven to backfire quite regularly. The choice now is to obtain an economic dominanceand after that install a government favorable to the political 'goal' in question.

I think that would shock your teachers into a B at least.
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 01:44 am
There may be some interesting ink to generate regarding the modern "media war" phenomenon as it is played out both through organized armies and terrorist organizations. The present America/Iraq/al-Qaida struggle should provide plenty of easily accessible grist for the mill, though if you're looking to make an ethical argument rather than simply a cultural study, this is perhaps the wrong avenue.

As Arjen said, modern war is no longer so much a question of conquering territory, mainly due to the rise of democratic governments in the west, increasing economic globalization and the explosion of information availability and flow (would Abu Ghraib have happened in the 18th century?), all of which render the brutal methods necessary to quell insurrection largely untenable. Having lived in Baghdad for two of the past five years, I can say with confidence that the American army could pacify Iraq, install a rump government and milk the territory of its resources...but not by any means that would be considered acceptable to the American voter or the world community.

The propaganda struggle has become a very real theatre of modern war (perhaps the most important?) and terrorist organizations have proven their mettle on this field. A comparison of past and present imperial/terrorist goals and methods may be worth a read. It certainly seems an interesting subject to me.
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 02:21 am
Here are some prospective approaches to take:

  • Is one man's 'Terrorism' is another's Fight for Freedom?
  • What differentiates War and Terrorism, is it just 'perspective'?
  • War and Terrorism in the 21st Century: Comparison and Contrast of Recent Events
  • The effects of media influence on public perceptions of terrorism; Self defined? (very much like what Grimlock spoke about)
  • Methods in Terrorism and War - Similarities and Differences

Random ideas... Good luck!
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 02:28 am
Two more ideas in this line:

- Terrorist, marter, soldier, general (concerning their mindsets and the simularities)
- The art of control (as a paraphrase to sun tzu's art of war).
Reply Sat 27 Sep, 2008 05:31 am
I would skip the bit about 'what makes a just war' as anyone fighting feels justified (wether rightly or wrongly), and in most cases are justified. Even from opposing points of view.

I would engage the topic 'How does one fight a war?' assuming that the war is justified. The point being that even when on the moral high ground, if you terrorize (torture, humiliate) the enemy, you lose the moral high ground, and place them on the moral high ground.

For eg, during world war 2, Italian pows held in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, were given money and allowed to go into town unattended to spend it!

See this link for more details.
(Sleepy Hollow - LS Ongley - Biography)

Thus, the stories the Italian pows sent home, placed the allies on the moral high ground, and the Italians were all too ready to turn against the axis. By contrast, A pow in the axis camp, was shot dead for merely retrieving a football that was out of bounds.

Winning the hearts and minds, is the antithesis of torture. If you can convince the enemy that it is better to be a pow in your camp, than a soldier in his army, you have already won the war. (bar the shooting)

Think Guantanamo bay, and how it has made the whole world turn against America, despite the initial invasion of Iraq (by Bush I in 1991 after Kuwait) being completely justified.


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