Conceptualizing Terrorism: Perspective from the Periphery
International Conference on 'The State of International Relations in Pakistan,' Department of International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, and Hanns-Seidel Foundation, Islamabad
April 6-8, 2009
This paper offers a conceptual framework for terrorism, one that is not necessarily in contradiction with mainstream, predominantly Western, perspective on the subject but clarifies some of its most controversial aspects including the role of religion in the current wave of terrorism, the action-reaction and terrorism-versus-freedom debates, terrorism’s distinctive character as compared to war and guerrilla war and its implications for international law and state structure, as well as the root-causes of terrorism and their significance in counter-terrorism. However, overtime, mainstream perspectives seem to accommodate peripheral concerns on the subject. This is my first conclusive argument. My second argument, pertaining to the conference theme on the link between IR theory and practice, is that a hotchpotch of neo-realist and neo-liberal preferences explains the international conduct in the War on Terror, even though the present trend indicates a shift from exercising the realistically-grounded use of force option towards employing non-military means as part of a pragmatic outlook conforming to neo-liberal agenda. The pages ahead describe where I agree with the mainstream perspective on terrorism, what my major criticism is of the mainstream perspective on the subject, why I think this perspective is accommodating peripheral concerns on terrorism, and, finally, how the conduct of the War on Terror reflects a mix of neo-realist and neo-liberal theories, and why I believe the emerging trend of the war shows a tilt towards international counter-terrorism policies rooted in neo-liberal theories. Full Text