PSCI 3510 - Schedule

PSCI 3510

TERRORISM AND

POLITICAL VIOLENCE

 

SCHEDULE

Schedule of Classes and Assignments

 

Week #1: Wednesday, September 6: Introduction to the course.

 

Week #2: M-W September 11/13: Defining and conceptualizing terrorism. Historical trends.

Readings:

Study questions:

  • What is anarchism? (look it up if you don't know)
  • Who were the Thugs, the Assassins, and the Zealots-Sicari?
  • When can the commission of a hate crime also be considered a terrorist attack (or vice versa)?

Assignment (due midnight on September 13):

  • Send me an email verifying that you have read the syllabus and understood all class policies. Note: failure to do this assignment will result in a 5% reduction of your course grade.

Hashashin

(Assassins)

11th-13th centuries

Week #3: M-W September 18/20: Historical trends continued.

Readings:

  • Martha Crenshaw, "The debate over "new” vs. "old” terrorism," in Karawan, McCormack, and Reynolds (eds.), Values and Violence: Intangible Aspects of Terrorism. Springer Netherlands (2008), 117-136 [e-reserve].
  • David C. Rapoport, ‘"The four waves of rebel terror and September 11," Anthropoetics 8,1 (2002), 1-18.
  • Corinne Purtill, "What Northern Ireland teaches us about today's war on terror," PRI (July 15, 2015). (Where is Northern Ireland?)
  • Ruth Blakeley, "State terrorism in the social sciences," in Richard Jackson, Eamon Murphy and Scott Poynting (eds), Contemporary State Terrorism: Theory and Practice. Routledge 2010, 12-27 [e-reserve].
  • Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. 1 (1973), 3-8 and 103-117 [e-reserve]. Solzhenitsyn was a labor camp survivor, a Soviet dissident and a Nobel Prize winner. Learn more about him here.

Study questions:

  • How has terrorism changed over time? How has it not?
  • What is different (if anything) about terrorism during the roughly three decades of The Troubles in Northern Ireland from what we see today?
  • The Soviet Union between roughly 1927 and 1953 was a totalitarian regime that engaged in state terrorism against its own people. Other examples are Nazi Germany (1933-1945) and Cambodia (Kampuchea at the time) under the Khmer Rouge (1975-1979). In what ways does Solzhenitsyn help convey what it was like to live in an environment of state terrorism?

 

Wall Street Bombing (probably carried out by Italian anarchists), 1920.

Week #4: M-W September 25/27: Causes of terrorism.

Readings:

  • James A. Piazza and Karin van Hippel, "Does poverty serve as a root cause of terrorism?" in Stuart Gottlieb (ed.), Debating Terrorism and Counterterrorism (CQ Press, 2010), 34-66 [e-reserve].
  • Heather Selma Gregg, "Three theories of religious activism and violence: social movements, fundamentalists, and apocalyptic warriors," Terrorism and Political Violence 28:2 (2016), 338-360 [e-reserve].
  • Dean Obeidallah, "Are all terrorists Muslims? It’s not even close," The Daily Beast (January 14, 2015).
  • Kevin Williamson, "Terror is not random." The National Review (May 28, 2017).

Study questions:

  • The general question: at various times terrorism has been blamed on poverty, lack of education, lack of opportunity, religious extremism, ideological warfare, fanaticism, psychological disorders and/or vulnerabilities, identity politics, and more. What do we actually know about causes? (continued next week)
  • Williamson's article is in The National Review, a well-regarded conservative news magazine. Obeideallah's article is in the Daily Beast, a liberal online source of news and analysis. Do you consider their positions legitimately conservative and liberal, respectively?

Diplomatic simulation:

  • Overview of simulation, roles, and preparatory research.

The four girls killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing on September 15, 1963, in Birmingham, Alabama. The Ku Klux Klan was responsible.

Week #5: M-W October 2/4: Causes of terrorism (continued).

Readings:

  • Paul Hollander, "Righteous political violence and contemporary Western intellectuals," Terrorism and Political Violence, 25:4 (2013), 518-530 [e-reserve].
  • Amartya Sen, "Violence in identity," in Karawan, McCormack, and Reynolds (eds.), Values and Violence: Intangible Aspects of Terrorism. Springer Netherlands (2008), 3-13 [e-reserve]. Sen is one of several Nobel laureates we are reading this semester. Learn more about him here.
  • Walter Reich, "Understanding terrorist behavior: the limits and opportunities of psychological inquiry." In Walter Reich (ed), Origins of Terrorism: Psychologies, Ideogologies, Theologies, States of Mind. Cambridge (1990), 261-274 [e-reserve].
  • Randy Borum, "Psychological vulnerabilities and propensities for involvement in violent extremism," Behavioral Sciences & the Law 32:3 (May/June 2014), 286-294 and 298–299 ("Attitudinal propensities") [e-reserve].

Study questions:

  • The general question: at various times terrorism has been blamed on poverty, lack of education, lack of opportunity, religious extremism, ideological warfare, fanaticism, psychological disorders and/or vulnerabilities, identity politics, and more. What do we actually know about causes? (continued from last week)
  • According to Reich, we run certain risks when trying to understands what motivates terrorism. What are they?
  • Borum write of "propensities" that better explain vulnerability to "engagement" with terrorism than mental illness. What are the propensities of someone whose "mindset" and "worldview" (notice that he avoids use of the word "personality") leads to such vulnerability? In what ways are they vulnerable?

 

New York City

September 11, 2001

Week #6: M-W October 9/11: Terrorists' strategy and tactics.

Readings:

  • Andrew H. Kydd and Barbara F. Walter, "The strategies of terrorism," International Security 31:1 (Summer 2006), 49-80 [e-reserve].
  • Susanne Martin and Leonard B. Weinberg, "Terrorism in an era of unconventional warfare," Terrorism and Political Violence 28:2 (2016), 236-253 [e-reserve].
  • Scott Atran. "Genesis of suicide terrorism," Science 299 (March 2003), 1534-1539 [e-reserve].
  • Christina Archetti, "Terrorism, communication and recruitment in the digital age," Perspectives on Terrorism 9:1 (2015), 49-59 [open access].

Study questions:

  • What do terrorists hope to achieve?
  • What tools and tactics do they have at their disposal?
  • Is there any evidence that terrorism is successful in achieving the desired goals?

Assignment #1 due Saturday, October 14 by midnight.

 

Week #7: M-W October 16/18: Catch-up/review (Monday), midterm exam (Wednesday).

Captain and terrorist in hijacked TWA flight #847 in Beirut, Lebanon in June 1985.

Week #8: M-W October 23/25: Counter terrorism.

Readings:

Study questions:

  • In the space of several years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US, the United Nations developed a global counter-terrorism strategy. As can be imagined, it was the subject of long, involved negotiations with trade-offs. Based on what you now know about causes and tactics/strategies, how do you assess the UN's formal strategy?
  • One decide later, another resolution was passed reviewing the 2006 strategy. What does that document tell you about the state of counter-terrorism activity at the global level?
  • Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, President George W Bush announced a War on Terror (he also sometimes referred to it as the Global War on Terror). In 2013 President Barack Obama announced that the "Global War on Terror is over." Terrorism still takes place on a fairly regular basis; why have we ended the "war"?
  • What are our options in combatting terrorism? (continued next week)

Assignment #1 revisions due Saturday, October 28 by midnight.

Poster critical of the

War on Terror

Week #9: M-W October 30/November 1: Counter terrorism (continued).

Readings:

  • Ronald Crelinsten, "Perspectives on counterterrorism: from stovepipes to a comprehensive approach," Perspectives on Terrorism 8:1 [open access].
  • Barry R. Posen, "The struggle against terrorism: grand strategy, strategy, and tactics,” International Security 26:3 (Winter 2001/02), 39-55 [e-reserve].
  • Andrew Suleman, "Strategic planning for combatting terrorism: a critical examination," Cardozo Public Law, Policy & Ethics Journal 5:3 (Spring 2007), 567-601 [e-reserve].

Study questions:

  • What are our options in combatting terrorism? (continued from last week)

Supporters of Charlie Hedbo newspaper march after shootings in January, 2015.

Week #10: M-W November 6/8: The moral dimensions of terrorism and counter-terrorism.

Readings:

  • Sanche de Gramont, "How one pleasant, scholarly young man from Brazil became a kidnapping, gun‐toting, bombing revolutionary," New York Times Magazine, November 15, 1970 [e-reserve].
  • Franz Fanon, "On violence," in The Wretched of the Earth, Grove Press, 1961 [e-reserve]. Fanon was an influential anti-colonialist activist and thinker. Read more about him here.
  • Alison M. Jaggar. "What is terrorism, why Is It wrong, and could it ever be morally permissible?" Journal of Social Philosophy 36:2 (Summer 2005): 202-217 [e-reserve].
  • Martin Luther King, "Letter from the Birmingham Jail," 1963 [e-reserve].

Study questions:

  • Is it justified to call the young man in the de Gramont article a moral idealist even as he is participating in violent acts?
  • Are there situations in which violence is the only recourse to achieving social justice, self-determination, or political freedoms?
  • Is it true -- as the saying goes -- that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter"?

Counter-terrorism police in the UK.

Week #11: M-W November 13/15: The moral dimensions of terrorism and counter-terrorism (continued). Terrorism and its impact on democracies.

Readings:

  • Watch: "Drones are ethical and effective," David Aaronovitch (11 min).
  • Watch: "Drones are not ethical and effective," Jeremy Waldron (11 min).
  • Watch: "Malala's message to President Obama," Forbes (3 min). When she was 15, Yousafzai was shot in the face by Taliban terrorists angry over her advocacy of education for girls in Pakistan and who -- at 17 years of age -- was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Learn more about Malala Yousafzai here. (Note: in early summer 2017 she graduated from high school in the UK and subsequently joined social media sites to advocate for girls' rights.)
  • David Lowe, "Surveillance and international terrorism intelligence exchange: balancing the interests of national security and individual liberty," Terrorism and Political Violence 28:4 (2016), 653-673 [e-reserve].
  • Michael McClintock, "Counter-terrorism and human rights," in Marie Breen-Smyth (ed), The Ashgate Research Companion to Political Violence. Routledge (2012), 313-334 [e-reserve].

Study questions:

  • Which side of the drone debate is the most persuasive and why?
  • Malala is a courageous and idealistic young woman. Is she correct? or naive?
  • McClintock quotes an unnamed officer involved in counter-terrorism efforts on the second page of his chapter who states, "If you don't violate someone's human rights some of the time, you probably aren't doing your job." McClintock is highly critical of the George W Bush administration (and the early Obama administration just before this book went to press) for weakening our commitment to human rights both at home and abroad, perhaps irreversibly. Is his criticism valid or is there a case to be made for scaling back our commitment to rights?
  • In his article, Lowe argues that courts in the UK and US can find the balance between rights and security (and that the media should stay out of it). How do such courts work? Do you agree that such measures are sufficient to protect our rights?
  • In general, how much of our set of civil liberties -- as expressed in the Bill of Rights -- is it reasonable to curtail in the pursuit of national security?

Assignment #2 due Thursday, November 16 by midnight.

US Homeland Security terrorism threat alerts (left) and satirical critique (right).

Week #12: Monday, November 20 (no class on November 22)

Simulation preparation.

 

Week #13: M-W November 27/29: Simulation part I.

Assignment #2 revisions due by noon on Monday, November 27.

 

Week #14: M-W December 4/6: Simulation part II.

 

Final exam: Thursday, December 14 from 2:45-4:45.