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robmandu's avatar

Why should an attack on a military target be classified as an act of terrorism?

Asked by robmandu (21290points) February 15th, 2010

Terrorism is typically an act of violence against a population, usually civilian, to achieve some goal of a political or religious theme. This theory is deemed effective by the terrorists because the civilian population is generally considered defenseless against such action… and hence likely to react through fear (or terror).

However, the military is certainly not defenseless. It’s a fighting force not subject to the whim of an individual’s fear. Also, the destruction or compromise of military targets has inherent value when waging a war. How can terrorism be achieved against such a target?

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17 Answers

tentaclepuppy's avatar

Do you have a specific example in mind?

davidbetterman's avatar

If we are not in a declared war with the parties involved, it might be classified as a terrorist act.
Also, calling something a terrorist act gives the US gov’t. the power to enact sweeping laws denying us of even more individual/personal freedoms…

CMaz's avatar

They are.
The Military Machine has a backbone comprised of people with families.

That IS why terrorism is so effective.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Substitute “terrorism” with “guerrilla warfare”. Same tactics but used by radicals instead of military aggressors.

Broken_Arrow's avatar

Ah, my friend, “terrorism” is in the eye of the beholder.

mzehnich's avatar

Terrorism has almost become a buzzword this past decade thanks to the media, and has been used for just about everything that can be defined as “one nation doing wrong to another”. Heck, I even remember the term “psychological terrorism” thrown around here and there.

That said, I would assume it might be a proper term for events such as Peal Harbor, when it may have been against a military base, but it was still an unexpected attack against people who were not prepared. There is a thin line between soldier and citizen.

Guerrilla warfare, as @Captain_Fantasy said might be a more appropriate term, although it is historically used to define much more small scale events.

kevbo's avatar

@robmandu, this story should interest you regarding this question.

Trillian's avatar

General Information About Terrorism

Terrorism is the use of force or violence against persons or property in violation of the criminal laws of the United States for purposes of intimidation, coercion, or ransom.

Terrorists often use threats to:

* Create fear among the public.
* Try to convince citizens that their government is powerless to prevent terrorism.
* Get immediate publicity for their causes.

Acts of terrorism include threats of terrorism; assassinations; kidnappings; hijackings; bomb scares and bombings; cyber attacks (computer-based); and the use of chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological weapons.

High-risk targets for acts of terrorism include military and civilian government facilities, international airports, large cities, and high-profile landmarks. Terrorists might also target large public gatherings, water and food supplies, utilities, and corporate centers. Further, terrorists are capable of spreading fear by sending explosives or chemical and biological agents through the mail.

Within the immediate area of a terrorist event, you would need to rely on police, fire, and other officials for instructions. However, you can prepare in much the same way you would prepare for other crisis events.


1. terrorism (noun)

Main Entry: ter·ror·ism
Pronunciation: \ˈter-ər-ˌi-zəm\
Function: noun
Date: 1795

: the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion

— ter·ror·ist \-ər-ist\ adjective or noun

— ter·ror·is·tic \ˌter-ər-ˈis-tik\ adjective

TexasDude's avatar

I imagine an attack against a military unit or installation should be considered an act of war.

filmfann's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard But what about flying a jet into the Pentagon by muslim extreamists? They have no country, so you cannot declare a war against a non-government.

kevbo's avatar

@filmfann, especially since the Pentagon has no air defenses.

TexasDude's avatar

@filmfann, I was referring specifically to the Fort Hood shootings.

Nullo's avatar

A helpful note from the peanut gallery: a military installation in peacetime isn’t the same as one that’s ready for war; it’s more like a regular city, with civilians and businesses and families and such.

syzygy2600's avatar

Its an act of war IF war has been declared. If you pop out of nowhere with an attack, yeah, that’s terrorism.

CMaz's avatar

Something more common for women then men.

They sit on the toilet, sometimes not declaring a doodie. Terrorism.

Bronny's avatar

the operative word here is “political”.

If a group attacks the military, as a group, they have a political agenda, because the military is the tactical representation of their government.

Also, if you are speaking of a terrorist attack upon the US or any other NATO member, then the opposing force would have had to have gained intelligence on the other. Meaning the attack was in laymeans terms premeditated, and therefore the head of that plan had an agenda that was indefinitely political of some nature. It’s very simple.

Said terrorist group will also be separate from the gov’t of whatever country they have heralded from. While they might be funded by A government, they act independently. There are strings connecting everyone at the end of the day, in the same way that we say buying gasoline feeds and arms terrorists. It’s indirect but I suppose technically it is true.

A terrorist attack is not defined by the type of attack or who they are attacking but by what group of people commited said action and for what reason, with what end result in mind. They could attack the HQ of the crips, who are not defenseless and it would still be a terrorist attack.

In conclusion it is not WHO is the victim that is important, but WHO pulled the trigger.


Ron_C's avatar

Attacking a military target is not terrorism, I certainly don’t like the idea of American troops being ambushed but I’m as against random attacks on non-military targets by American forces.

To add a little controversy to this question, I do not consider attacks on military contractors (mercenaries) acts of war. I don’t support mercenaries in ANY way. If they are willing to take money to kill people, they should not be surprised when they are killed.

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