Is Terrorism Always Wrong?

Robert E Kelly


The War on Terror encourages a moral rigidity that all terrorism is automatically normatively wrong. Yet conceivable counter-examples, such as terrorism against Nazi wartime installations or African National Congress (ANC) behavior in the apartheid struggle, suggest otherwise. Asymmetric terrorism is a tactic generally found morally repugnant, but we leaven our normative judgment of it by three more factors: 1) the target, 2) the regime-type, and 3) the ideological goal. That we cross-reference these four vectors in our normative judgment of terrorism generates the moral complexity of, e.g., the 'freedom fighter' problem in terrorism studies.

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Perspectives on Terrorism is  a journal of the Terrorism Research Initiative and the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies

ISSN  2334-3745 (Online)

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