Terrorism as a Strategy
This eight-week course serves as the entry point into the Counterterrorism Intelligence Certificate Program, but may also be taken by interested individuals as a stand-alone course. Students come into the course with sometimes strongly-held notions of what terrorism is, but few have looked at the phenomenon from a myriad of perspectives. Therefore, we start off by asking if there is an Americanized view of terrorism, and if so, is that view the only view to consider? For example, students confront the issue of whether or not the United States engages in terrorism as a matter of policy and practice. And they are asked if terrorism is ever a legitimate strategy to use.
Progressing through the course, students begin to view the world of national security, terrorism, and their own American perspectives with a critical eye. Most feel disposed to take a closer look at their core values and beliefs in order to better understand the larger worldview. Only by doing so, can we become better able to devise effective counterterror tactics and strategies.
Any definition of terrorism is a product of bias, experience, political views, and goals. For example, the Civil War featured Sherman's famous 'March to the Sea' in 1864, which the southern populace viewed as anything but heroic. Was Sherman, therefore, guilty of terrorism? During World War II, the Allies bombed German population centers such as Dresden and Hamburg with incendiary devices designed to destroy residential neighborhoods and the humans within them as a way of weakening the resolve of the German people. Was that terrorism? And let's not forget the explosion of the world's first atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. What was the perspective of the ordinary Japanese civilian to these hellish events?
Today we hear the term freedom fighter used by many groups and organizations. But one person's freedom fighter is another person's terrorist. How we make these distinctions is the essence of this course, and peculiarly apt given the recent ceremonies commemorating the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
This course is not being offered in the Winter and Spring 2013 semesters.