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Modern Violence: War and Terror in Historical Perspective

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Clif Stratton

on 26 October 2017

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Transcript of Modern Violence: War and Terror in Historical Perspective

Modern Violence: War and Terror in Historical Perspective
Main Thesis
Mamdani argues that value judged categories of "good" and "bad" Muslims presumes all to be "bad" unless proven to be "good," and describing terrorism in cultural terms obscures "Islamic" terrorism's political and historical roots, which Mamdani locates in the encounter with U.S. foreign policy during the late Cold War.
(pgs 11-12, 15-16)
Creating the category of terror
1960s - States identify hijackers not as terrorists, but as rational actors with political demands (i.e. revolutionaries)
Small groups (part 2)
Decide on no more than 3 sentences contained in the introduction (pgs. 3-16) that constitute (in part or in whole) Mamdani's thesis.
Defining Terrorism
use of violence or sabotage to achieve political goal(s)
The Cold War and the Geography of Proxy War
Nicaragua (1979, 1982-1986)
Angola (1975-1991)
Mozambique (1975-1991)
Afghanistan (1979-1989)
Edward Grazda, Prayers before the Muslim Day Parade, New York City, 1995
1970s - "Experts" now identify hijackers as terrorists acting as evildoers and without reason.
1980s - "Experts" promote idea that Soviet Union directs terrorism. Result: counterterrorism = war.
1990s - New descriptions of increasing danger and irrationality sets stage for pre-emptive War on Terror.
primarily impacts civilians (not govts or armies)
acts may be direct or indirect
carried out by states and non-states alike
Write them down and be prepared to tell the class where the sentences are located.
Small groups (part 3)
What time period defines the late Cold War?
What became the major U.S. foreign policy objectives during that period?
How did the U.S. set about achieving those objectives?
Neil Young, "After the Garden," Living with War (2006)
Laos (1964-1975)
Congo (1960-1967)
Korea (1950-53)
Iran (1954)
Small group discussion (part 1)...
As a group, answer the following questions in writing...
Which, if any of these actions should be considered "terrorism"?
Who are the terrorists?
Use your discussion of the scenario to define terrorism.
By the end of this issue, we should be able to...
1. Understand that the differences between war and terror are not as simple as we would like.
2. Recognize how and when media outlets discusses terrorism as a cultural product, rather than a political one.
3. Recognize the role that terrorist tactics played during the U.S.'s effort to win the Cold War after Vietnam.
4. Understand the ideological as well as geopolitical origins of the War on Terror, which began before September 11, 2001.
5. Recognize the ways in which colonialism continues to play a role in an allegedly post-colonial world.
Central Issue (Short Essay) Question
How does a understanding of the historical relationship between US foreign policy and terror help us make a more informed political analysis of the "War on Terror" today?
Today's Question
How and why do we distinguish between forms of violence?
Full transcript