Final exam

You must write a medium-length (3-4 page) paper on TWO of the three topics listed below. Each of your two written responses will be worth up to 150 points, for a total of 300 possible points for the exam.

Final Topic A

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A crucial theme that we have noted in our coverage of terrorism, particularly with our coverage of democratic states and terrorism, is the theme of unintended consequences—the way that counter-terrorism can often become counter-productive and result in an escalation of violence instead of eliminating it. This is readily apparent in Black Flags. The US certainly did not want to strengthen terrorism after the 9/11 attacks, but as the book clearly shows, the emergence of an al Qaeda inspired chapter in Iraq and its eventual transformation into ISIS, a powerful terrorist/guerrilla organization with regional aspirations, was a consequence of the US response. Similarly, the FLN in Algeria was a small, unknown actor when the war began in 1954, and owed much of its growth to counter-productive French policies. The UK did not intend to strengthen the Provisional IRA in the 1970s and the Israelis certainly did not intend for their invasion of southern Lebanon in 1982 to serve as the catalyst for the formation of Hizballah. Yet in all four cases counterterrorism did prove to be at least partially counter-productive. Why? Why have the counterterrorism policies pursued by democratic states sometimes been extremely counter-productive? For this question you should certainly think about the narrow impact of counterterrorism on terrorist groups, but it is also important that you look at the bigger political question. What kind of impact did counter-terrorism have on the populations in all these areas? Why? How do these bigger political policies affect the growth/decline of terrorist groups? For this topic you must use the relevant lectures, PowerPoints, and readings for all four areas. In addition, you should show a familiarity with terrorism more generally—don’t forget about our readings from early in the class, especially Richardson and Merari on the growth of terrorism. Finally, from our last day lecture, consider Richardson’s rules on combatting terrorism: what rules did these countries follow, which ones did they ignore? Why, do you think?


Final Topic B

One of the themes of this course has been how terrorism ends. Earlier in the term we saw several cases of success—the Provisional IRA succeeded in bringing about a negotiated process in which its main goals were considered, even if the result fell short of what the IRA wanted. The FLN in Algeria and Irgun and Lehi in Mandate Palestine succeeded completely in their goals of establishing states. For this topic, I would like you to compare these cases of success with cases of failure—the destruction of the LTTE in Sri Lanka and the implosion of the Weather Underground and RAF. Why did the IRA, the FLN, Irgun, and Lehi achieve some degree of success while the LTTE, the Red Army Faction, and the Weather Underground failed? To develop this argument, you will need to review the specific material for all of the groups included above. Also, you will need to review the material from early in the semester on terrorism as a general phenomenon so that you can make a meaningful comparison. In particular, evaluate the above groups in terms of primary motivations—which groups had clear and achievable political goals and managed not to be sidetracked by secondary motivations? Also, think of terrorism as political violence, as violence that is used to represent and promote the agendas of a particular community. Which of these groups managed to make a strong claim toward representing their communities and why?

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