According to the United States Code, terrorism refers to any form of unexpected violence perpetrated by a group of individuals to civilians or untrained citizens of a country for political reasons. The main features of terrorism are political intensions, non-militant targets and clandestine perpetrators. This exempts such forms of violence as kidnapping or bombing for personal reasons. The target of the malicious acts must ambush unexpectedly and the attack has nothing to do with the intentions of a whole state. The heat of terrorism became more pronounced after the attack on the World Trade centre and significant damage to the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. During this incident more than six thousand people lost their lives after hijacked commercials airplanes crashed into the two buildings (Ruby 10). Terrorism may not be the largest cause of deaths in the world today but it has continued to draw the greatest attention compared to all other forms of violence. For instance, the number of deaths due to car accidents in the year 2000 was approximately 42 thousand while that of brutal murders was about 15 thousand. These figures are more than thrice the number of deaths caused by terrorism. If this is the case, why is the war on terrorism given such a high priority? (Jones 265). In order to obtain relevant answers to the above questions we have to understand military, political, economic and social aspects of it. The media has also played a great role in the general perception of terrorism. Other wars such as the Vietnam conflicts are also compared to terrorism in order to gain a deeper understanding of the current state of tourism.
Military and Political aspects
Different nations react differently with regards to attacks. In the United States, after the September 11 attack some essentials of the military gained more relevance while others lost importance or are on the verge of losing it. According to professionals the war on terrorism by the military is a mandatory intervention intended on eliminating or putting an end to it. However, it is a complicated and expensive undertaking. For a military intervention on terrorism to be successful, their targets should be articulately defined, efficient and swift. This is meant to reduce the destruction of the civilian population in the strike. The main duty of military intelligence is the collection of terrorist details including leaders, members, sycophants and the prevention of their activities. With current advances in technology, the intelligence agencies of various countries should work in harmony to ensure effective data swap (Ruby 12). This can later be combined with data collection and processing. After the collection of information, the data stored is followed by the evaluation and analysis process. In order to facilitate this, the United States government is developing the total information awareness. Terrorism causes alteration in the ordinary information in the regular military activities. These changes include the decisions on location of attacks, authorization of these attacks and acceptance of responsibility for all actions taken. Sections of the attacks are propagated by the use of high-precision arms while Special Forces units execute other sections. During these attacks, smaller units control an identified part of the areas. This tactics ensures the effectiveness of their strikes. Countries that engage in the struggle must be readily prepared for the battle. Terrorists are known to launch attacks when least expected to do so (Wright, 41).
Many terrorist activities are perpetrated due to political reasons. People on the losing ends are the hostages who experience intense oppression which in extreme cases can result in death. Assuming that terrorism is carried out on political reasons, the terrorist groups attain their political aims is absolutely mixed and tends to be more pessimistic rather than optimistic (Ruby 11). There have been literally numerous of terrorist groups around the world in the past 30 years, even if we exempt the guerrilla and separatist groups. If we further differentiate between terrorist alliances with political goals versus alliances whose political benefits are vague, we will perceive that the huge majority of these alliances have political benefits that can be acknowledged very articulately. The basic assumption is that the terrorist groups have decided to undertake terrorism because of significant reasons and the existing political system is not capable or is unwilling to incorporate or accomplish their political objectives. Reasons of terrorist for engaging in attacks maybe be the acquisition of their desired political objectives. They may wish to substitute the current political belief with something closer to their own ideas. This may be a new position from an existing position or replacement of the existing state with another form. In both cases, the current political order needs to be distorted (Ruby 9). In reference to national self-resolve and a separatist agenda, the chances of an anti-colonial administration being brought down by terror are increased. This is particularly so, when the colonial system racially, linguistically or otherwise is split from the group that is fighting for self-government.
Definitions and approaches
Due to different circumstances under which the acts of aggression occurs acting as the pivotal judgment to ascertain whether the act of terrorism has been committed or not, defining terrorism has proved hard. In recent times, most scholarly articles that center on terrorism use earlier definitions. For example, Thornton describes terrorism as an aggressive act or threat that is used to influence political conduct but in an internal war situation. Terrorism violence goes beyond the scope of the socially acceptable conduct creating a distinguishing factor between itself and other acts of aggression. Terrorist’s violence is designed in such a way that its influence is based on its ability to cause heavy fatalities and material obliteration. Its main targets are symbolic in the fact that they attack symbols of the state and society. The violence is mainly aimed at affecting the political options of both the players and the non-players in the field of politics (Tomlinson 221). Consequences arising from the violent acts may sometimes be uncontrollable and may range according to the level of destruction. According to the desired goals of the terrorists performing the violent act, controlling the reactions of the affected is vital. According to Thornton ideas, terrorism is committed against a state by a minority group against some particular state. Terrorism committed by states carries resemblance to terrorism committed by insurgent groups, it includes the processes, the desired outcomes and the insurgents used to commit the terrorist activity. In cases where government commits terrorism activities, the goals may vary, for instance, terrorism may be used to achieve political power or obedience. Governmental and insurgents terrorist activities vary in their hierarchy of command, influence and rank which requires distinguished study. The outcome of terrorist activities by an insurgent group is far much greater as compared to that committed by a government. On September 11, 2001, the chain terrorist attack commanded by the insurgent group al-Qaeda in the United States, two passenger planes were skyjacked and crashed into the World Trade Centre built in New York. The act claimed 3000 lives (Fodor 2). Although, it was not intended to derail tourism in the United States, the act has up to date had great effects not only on the travel and tourist sectors but also on the economy of the United States as a whole (Ruby 11). The economic decline cannot be solely attributed to failure of the tourist industry posed by threats of terrorist attacks. The 9/11 terrorist attack on New York caused plummeting in tourist influx by 4 million in 2001 in comparison with the previous years. This designated some degree of fear in the tourism sector that concerned not only the United States but the whole world. There was a decline in tourists’ activities in the whole world. Major declines occurred in passenger flights. Both British airlines and American airways registered immense decline in the market which opened the market to cheaper airlines bringing more and stiff competition in the flight industry. The United States airlines, catering and accommodation facilities and those working in the flight industry have been rendered jobless. Passenger planes are taking off with about half of their seats unoccupied due to lack of passengers. Throughout the United States, some of the gatherings and conferences have been ceased due to fear of similar attack (Fodor 2). The tourism industry is highly prone to such acts of terror and in this case the impact was very huge. Indeed the susceptibility of the industry to terrorist activities is evidenced by the huge economic losses that the industry suffers in such circumstances. The reason is that the industry entirely depends on tourist travels and accommodation which in its turn are usually direct targets of terrorists. Furthermore acts of terror surround tourist facilities and foreign nationals in the targeted countries. In the United States, for example, the cost of 9/11 could not be estimated. In the tourism industry alone, it was estimated that $1.1 billion was lost. Over 1 million people lost their jobs. In terms of GDP, the economy experienced 1.8% decrease due to the decline in the tourism industry. Other factors may have contributed to the slow growth in GDP though the effects of terrorism were profound (Wright 47).
The act of terrorism on world trade center not only affected US but also other parts of the world. In fact the global tourism decreased considerably compared to previous years. The global slump in the tourism was due to succeeding attacks in various parts of the world, the constant threats and unabated fear of being attacked. Many countries issued travel bans in those countries they deem vulnerable. Advisory warnings were issued against certain tourist facilities, and some places were restricted for foreign nationals. These contributed to the huge economic losses not only for the tourism industry but also for the affiliate industries such as aviation, hotel, tours and operation industries. During this period hotels in New York recorded 45% decrease in the bed occupancy while over three thousand workers were retrenched. Washington experienced over 50% decrease in the bed occupancy and cut back on employee wages by almost 60 %. Other cities such as central Florida and Seattle which are known for their full bed occupancy during the summer saw a remarkable drop by almost 90% percent. In general the tourism industry players were affected by low customer bookings and even those who booked cancelled their reservations. Most of the industry players had to operate at the minimum cost possible in order to reduce prices and at the same time make some reasonable returns. With increased security and favorable prices, the customer-eroded confidence could actually be won back. The effect of terrorist attack on the stock market was twofold. The major stock exchange in the US, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), which was more or less housed in the world trade center, was out of operation for some days. NASDAQ, London Stock Exchange and others that were actually housed in the world trade center had to evacuate and all the trading activities had to be cancelled. Indeed this was the first time the NYSE had to be closed since World War 2. The financial crisis was looming as a result of the closure of the trading activities (Tomlinson 210). Due to the looming financial crisis Federal Reserve had to act quickly and announce that it was operating. During its announcement the Federal Reserve declared the discount window open to meet the liquidity in the financial market. In fact its first actions were geared towards averting financial crisis. One of its remarkable actions was the addition of $100 billion per day, during the first three days after the attack. The then governor of FED in Washington described other actions that FED took to stabilize the economy and offset potential disturbances in the financial system in detail. Not only was there a problem in the financial markets, but gold and oil prices almost doubled. Though the currency trade was minimally affected, the value of a dollar depreciated sharply against major world currencies such as euro, pound and yen. The days that followed saw stocks in major European markets sharply falling. Britain, Germany and Spain recorded a sharp decline in their stock exchanges with over five percent. Other parts of the world were not exceptional. Indeed Latin America stocks declined with over six percent in average.
Political, social and economic implications
The fuss on terrorism has grown over the years especially after the September 11. In the last decade, the number of references on the issue of terrorism has grown from hundreds to thousands. The complexity and dramatic nature of the subject as well as the exceptionally rapid development of the area have produced even results beyond doubts (Tomlinson 212). While terrorism is viewed as a threat to the reputation of the government and international image, official bureaucracies become more attentive to the issue of terrorism than that perceived in other areas in scholarly studies, if not always to the stability of the system. The result of government interest is the emphasis on the specific elements of terrorism that appertain to the safety of the public especially, the response to the problem and the expectations of the future threat. Criminal justice and policy analysis methods are more usual than attempts to clarify the motives of terrorist groups and terrorists as individuals. These methods often refute that the motives of the terrorist groups are relevant to all, rather concentrating on their capabilities and legal countermeasures. The challenge of attaining the kind of comprehensive information that could enhance psycho-biographical researches of individual terrorists or develop chronologies of group dynamics potentially bears psychological theory building. The most of the literature on the relationship between the media and terrorism focuses on the reaction of the media towards terrorism activities. The relationship between mass media and terrorism is symbiotic to the extent that insurgent terrorist groups exploit the media as a channel for their political messaging to the targeted audience, while supplying thrilling news for the media houses. Words leverage the way people think and limit concepts and ideas that can be carried to one individual to another. As mentioned, the media can play a big role in providing the public with the information that will be judged by the societies to be relevant in any novel discourse. Therefore, it is critical to the state agency and the insurgent terrorists that the media utilizes their language to outline the actions of violence that are politically motivated. Terrorism is a multifaceted issue that should be diagnosed in terms of factors influencing the persistence and relationships within the society.
Background of the Vietnam War
The involvement in the Vietnam War was considered as their aid in preventing the spread of communism in South Vietnam though contrary to this the North Vietnamese government viewed the conflict as a colonial war. France backed by the U.S was primarily the enemy of the Northern Vietnamese but later on it became South Vietnam which most regard acted as a U.S puppet state (digitalhistory.uh.edu). The United States government deployed combat troops in the beginning of 1965 and eventually operations spanned through the borders of Laos and Cambodia. After the Tet Offensive the US gradually withdraw its troops as part of the Vietnamization policy but fighting still continued. U.S military involvement ended on 1973 and the war ended on 1975 with the capture of Saigon by the Vietnam People’s Army. A year later North and South Vietnam were reunited (Kolko 457).
Comparing the war on terrorism from Vietnam conflicts
Examining the political, social, economic and media coverage of both incidents namely the Vietnam War and the war on terrorism, findings show that during the Vietnam War though the scrutiny of politicians and the public on US involvement on the war was right and the media heavily criticized the political actions of the government, the US economy continued to be stable. Socially Americans fled to Canada to avoid being drafted and sent to Vietnam to combat in the war (abcnews.go.com). Lastly the US military although task forces were sent to Vietnam, the military was not confident in its cause in fighting. One of the architects of the war noted that:
“First, we didn’t know ourselves. We thought that we were going into another Korean War, but this was a different country. Secondly, we didn’t know our South Vietnamese allies… And we knew less about North Vietnam. Who was Ho Chi Minh? Nobody really knew. So, until we know the enemy and know our allies and know ourselves, we’d better keep out of this kind of dirty business. It’s very dangerous.” (Karnow 23).
In comparison findings show that the terrorist attack of Sept 11 on the World Trade Center and Pentagon had caused greater impact on all aspects of this discussion. The military forces were in panicked as to have encountered surprise attacks on the homeland, political campaigns have been primarily addressed to wars on terrorism, in terms of the economy US tourism had dropped significantly and media highlights on the acts have bombarded the news. Social groups had risen to combat terrorist attacks urging the government to aggressively fight against such acts of terror. As a result of all the frenzy brought about by terrorism, Americans angered by the attack of September 11 marched to Iraq in search for the responsible group which is Al Quaeda and capture its leader Osama Bin Laden. Responses on terrorism have been greater compared to that of the Vietnam war solely because it affected the a great number of civilians directly and was caught off guard to experience such attacks on the homeland.
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