5 questions every presidential candidate should answer: Terrorism Edition

That’s the title of Michael Rubin’s article over at AEIdeas. Non-presidential candidate Hines essays some answers below.

1. How do you define terrorism? Terrorism is the use of mass killings, particularly of innocents, and associated destruction for the immediate purpose of causing terror in the hearts and minds of the target nation’s population. The intermediate and long range purpose is the use of that terror to cause the nation’s government—directly or by divorcing the population from the government through the former’s loss of faith in government—to accept in toto the terrorists’ demands.

2. Do you believe terrorism to be primarily motivated by grievance or ideology? Yes. Terrorists have an ideology—see Daesh, al Qaeda, Boko Haram for current examples, the Red Army Faction and the Baader-Meinhoff Gang for earlier examples—and they use the excuse of grievance to articulate their ideology. Daesh, for instance, espouses a very strict and harsh version of an ideology they center on Islam, with anyone who disagrees with them apostates and subject to killing on sight. Their grievance is that they’re oppressed and unable to press their ideology freely.

3. What is the theological component to terrorism? The question proceeds from a quasi-false premise. Terrorism is evil. Full stop. Quasi-false because while there are secular philosophies and ideologies that see very grave error, it’s primarily religion that has the concept of straight-up evil. In the end, though, there is no real theological component to terrorism; terrorism is outside of religion.

4. Should terrorism be treated as a criminal matter or a military threat? Yes. There are individual acts of terrorism, like the Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. These are isolated incidents, and they’re properly treated as the fundamentally criminal acts that they are.

However, when terrorism is practiced as a matter of policy by a nation-state or a polity organized along networked lines, it becomes a state of war and a military matter. While the tools of law enforcement might be helpful here, those are in this context merely tools, and they must be used alongside and subordinate to military tools.

5. What countries do you believe are state sponsors of terrorism today? Any country that harbors terrorist organization(s) (note that a nation that has terrorist organization(s) within them but that is attempting to do something about that is not harboring them) is such a sponsor, as are nations that support terrorist entities and/or engage in terrorism themselves. Such nations include Russia, Iran, the Palestinian Authority (post-merger with Hamas), Turkey, Syria, northern Korea, Qatar, Venezuela, Cuba.

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