The distinction between conventional military conflict and terrorism - Assignment Example

According to the readings, one of the most difficult conceptual matters to resolve concerns the distinction between conventional military conflict and terrorism. The issue that seems to be in question at the present time is what constitutes terrorist behavior and tactics, as pertains to behaviors taken by the Canadian government, police and military forces against factions of the FLQ (Front de Liberation Quebecois). Is the behavior of the Canadian government indicative of political violence or terrorism?

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For example, for four years in the mid-1980s, while Spain’s transition from ictatorship to the rule of law was being touted as a model for others, Spanish Interior Ministry and police officials were secretly directing a campaign of kidnapping, torture and murder of persons suspected of association with the Basque terrorist organization, ETA, a Basque terrorist organization. According to Korn (1996), who reported on the testimony by those implicated, these actions of state-sponsored crime were approved by Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez and directed by the interior minister.

Similar to Spain, Canada has engaged in similar behaviors, campaigns and actions against the FLQ. But can these behaviors be considered terrorism or military (and thus government) conflict? As noted in the available literature, terrorism, in its most basic definition, is an attempt to change, through violence and intimidation, the practices and policies of people and governments (Chomsky, 1986,1988; Wirth, 1993). Terrorists, whether they be anti-government or government-sponsored groups, have always had the advantage of being able to take the initiative in selecting the timing and choice of targets.

Unfortunately, some government-sponsored terrorist groups are used specifically by the overnment in question to fight again their anti-government counterparts. These particular groups include the military and the state police. Terrorism is usually applied to organized acts or threats of violence designed to intimidate opponents or to publicize grievances (Johnson, 1994; Lewis, 1992). This can also be said of government terrorist efforts as noted through the behaviors and thus the actions of the military and police or groups created specifically to carry out government ideology in the form of action.

Political terrorism may be part of a government campaign to liminate the opposition, or it may be part of a revolutionary effort to overthrow a regime, a common tactic in guerrilla warfare (Rubin, 1986). Terrorism by radicals of both the left and right and by nationalists, on the other hand, often attempt to overthrow a government and are targeted against government actions. These groups became widespread after World War II. Contemporary anti-government revolutionary groups that engage in terrorist activity include the FLQ, among others.

But what can be said of the behaviors and actions of the Canadian government itself? Before this uestion can be answered, it is first necessary to briefly describe the attitudes and actions of the Canadian government toward the FLQ in an historical context. Overview and Analysis of Government Behaviors Prior to the October crisis in 1970, a separatist extreme terrorist group called the Front de Liberation du Quebec (FLQ), committed hold-ups and kidnapping, and engaged in bombing activities. The holdups were for economic reasons.

The bombings and kidnappings were in response to the issue of Quebec seceding from Canada. Ideology has and continues to be an important art in the group’s justification for political terrorism and other forms of political violence. Throughout the 1960s, the FLQ used increasingly sophisticated bombs and political kidnappings to punctuate its demands. In October, 1970 the group created national attention by kidnapping the British trade commissioner, James Cross, and the Quebec cabinet minister, Pierre Laport.

Cross was later released unharmed, but Laport was strangled to death one week after his abduction when it was learned that the Canadian government would not cede to the demands for the release of 23 FLQ prisoners Johnson, 1994). Because the police were unable to cope with the situation, Robert Bourassa, the Premier of Quebec at that time, called upon Pierre Trudeau for assistance. Trudeau summoned the army and sent tanks into the streets of Montreal. Hundreds of separatists or suspected separatists were arrested, but few were charged with a crime.

Eventually, several FLQ members were convicted and jailed and the FLQ faded away, although the separatist goals live on. Turner (1996) believes the crackdown crushed the FLQ of the times, but left wounds that still have not healed in Quebec. Trudeau’s approval ating in the polls significantly increased as a result of this government behavior and soared to 59 per cent, while terrorist activity significantly decreased (Evans, 1996). Trudeau, although a Liberal who opposed U. S. nvolvement in Vietnam, acted with ferocity when it came to defending Canada (Palmer, 1995). He ordered soldiers in full battle dress into the streets of Ottawa, Quebec City and Montreal. Under the War Measures Act that he invoked, hundreds were rounded up at gunpoint. Some continue to bear a grudge. But Trudeau responded, “There are a lot of bleeding hearts around who just don’t like to see people ith helmets and guns. All I can say is, go on and bleed, but it is more important to keep law and order in the society. ” (Palmer, 1995).

Clearly, ideology had a strong bearing of the government’s continuation of the cycle of insurgency and counter-insurgency While the activities of the FLQ were significantly curtailed, the separatist goals continued to live on. But violence has not erupted with the same intensity since that time. Even the separatist defeat in a 1980 referendum did not bring about violence (Palmer, 1995). In this reporter’s view, the government took positive steps to decrease terrorist activities through ormal control agencies of the state which cannot be viewed or described as terrorism. This view is also held by Sederberg (1989).

In his definition, in a situation where the military or police jail and/or kill a member of a terrorist guerrilla group, even though the military or police intend to create extreme fear in a wider population (and thus reduce terrorist activity and insurgency), the actions and guiding behaviors cannot be considered as terrorism. According to Palmer (1995), the October Crisis of 1970 culminated several years of struggle by the FLQ. The violence appeared to have overtones more f the Middle East or Italy, but certainly not of Canada which had been noted for its peaceful stature.

In addition, the FLQ deviated from previous Quebec independence movements in its degree of violence and in seeking to end the province’s “slavery” to capitalism and to the Roman Catholic Church. In Serres’ (1995) view, the FLQ has and remains the most ruthless terrorist organization in Canada’ s history. The FLQ justified their terrorism with Marxist rhetoric, as opposed to the government’s rhetorical solidarity response. Violence was necessary, in the view of the FLQ, to help the working class” free themselves from the “bourgeois elite. It is clear that the FLQ, similar to other terrorist groups, engage in secular terrorism, as based on the ideologies of Marxism. Ruthless actions from this point of view, however, thus require equally ruthless and quick response on the part of the government. Retaliatory measures in and of themselves by the Canadian government, military, or police cannot be considered terrorist. Still, it must be noted that Canada did respond to FLQ actions and behaviors with its own brand of violence. It is important to understand the onstruction of the government, briefly, to point out who controls the power.

Canada is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. It is also a federal state. Although Canada’s official head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, is represented by a resident Governor-General, in practice the nation is governed by the Prime Minister, leader of the party that commands the support of a majority of the House of Commons, the dominant chamber of a bicameral Parliament, which theoretically supports the will of the people. Thus it is that the Prime Minister can almost single-handedly call for easures to quell insurrection and get such measures passed, stating that it is the people who have clamored for peace.

When terrorist groups arise to challenge that support, the government perceives this as a threat and takes steps to change the situation. Sometimes these steps appear to be similar to those taken by the insurgent group. But when combatants such as the police or military personnel are targeted, retaliatory measures do not, in the eyes of the Canadian government, qualify as terrorism. In 1974 Canada passed the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), primarily to counteract FLQ terrorist activity.

In 1976, 1984, and 1989, and 1996 the powers contained within the Act were significantly expanded and strengthened, with the blessing of the Prime Minister, almost to the point of giving the police authoritarian rule. The most recent change early this year was no exception. It quickly passed through parliament and obtained royal consent. The Act contains a wide range of provisions, which are divided into many headings: arrest, search and detention; “exclusion orders”; banning of organizations; port and airport control; and withholding of information from the police about terrorism.

Of the five measures in the ew Act, three provide the police with expanded and new search powers. The timing of the introduction of the new act was determined largely by political factors, although Home Secretary Michael Howard insisted that the police requested the extra powers to protect the public and to help them prevent further terrorist activities. Even though Canadian terrorism has been predominantly left-wing over the years, the federal government has recently gone to great lengths to infiltrate right-wing extremist groups in an effort to reduced the perceived threat.

Here again, as pointed out by Sederberg (1989), there is a istinction between terrorism and government response behavior because it was the government who was targeted and the government was imposing social control. Last fall, news reports emerged that CSIS had even hired a mole within the Heritage Front, Canada’s largest neo-Nazi group (Evans, 1996). After the mole was hired, Front members were implicated in numerous cases of assault, kidnapping, harassment, and illegal weapons possession.

According to Jenkinson (1995), government actions have resulted in a reduction of terrorist activity and in present-day Canada there are other democratic means for the people to express themselves. Although a new group has recently emerged to take on the battle, the Mouvement de Liberation Nationale du Quebec (MLNQ), a CBC political analyst in Montreal says there is no need for such a group. “At the peak of the Quiet Revolution, the FLQ was the most extreme exhibition of a nascent nationalism struggling to find a political means of expression.

At the present time there are so many democratic means for expression, there is no need for such a group” (Jenkinson, 1995, p. 11). It is also interesting to note, as pointed out by Serres (1995), that the Canadian government took a far different approach from the United States who as also attempting to deal with left-wing domestic terrorism in the 1960s. American federal law enforcement agencies unlike their counterparts in Canada, however, were prohibited from trying to infiltrate domestic terrorist groups. They were even forbidden from keeping files of press clippings on them.

But it is the Act that gives clear authority to the Canadian government, military and police to infiltrate and move against such groups without repercussion. Through its many revisions, the Act has provided increasingly more power for such purposes. According to the readings, when a state directly promotes and encourages, or s directly involved in, terrorist activities and tolerates the actions of terrorist groups that are perceived as serving the political interests of the state (including the military and the police), it can be said that the state’s behavior may constitutes state terrorism.

Question of Sustained State Terrorism in Canada The second part of the essay question asked if it was really likely that sustained state terrorism could occur in Canada. In order to provide an answer to this question, the current analysis must turn to testing the hypotheses relative to the state terrorism model, as provided in the Unit 2 of the readings. The dependent variable of the analysis refers to political terrorism perpetrated or sponsored by the state. If testing of the majority of the hypotheses indicate lower levels of terrorism, it will be concluded that sustained state terrorism could occur.

If not, the opposite view will be accepted. There is a total of thirteen hypotheses presented in the reading. The first postulate states that the more industrially advanced the economy, the less likely that high levels of state terrorism can be sustained. Canada is considered to be one of the more industrially advanced First World countries and has a large, relatively affluent middle class. According to the readings, this condition acts as a stabilizing force, which, in turn, reduces levels of sustained terrorism.

It can therefore be concluded that this premise is true. According to the second hypothesis, the more sustained the economic growth, the lower the level of state terrorism. Canada has relatively small, export-oriented, resource-based economy with high levels of foreign ownership. The Canadian economy has always has been heavily dependent upon the production and export to foreign markets of relatively unprocessed resources. This has made the national and regional economies highly subject o chronic cycles of boom and bust.

Canadian governments have attempted on the one hand to smooth these cycles, and on the other to diversify into more sophisticated, higher-value-added resource industries and to create a strong secondary manufacturing sector. “Free markets” have largely failed to bring about a revival of industrial capacity, and the unemployment rate is projected to be more than 10 percent well into the 1990s. Many regional economies are severely depressed and the economy of Canada has been described as “debt laden” (Simao, 1996). Based on these factors, the second postulation is rejected.

Higher levels of state terrorism could be sustained. The more equitably wealth is distributed among gender, class, and ethnic groups, according to the third hypothesis, the less likely state terrorism will occur. In Canada, similar to a number of other First World countries of the times, wealth is not equitably distributed. Thus, more sustained state terrorism is likely to occur. The next supposition postulated that, the greater the level of international economic dependency, the less likely state terrorism will be sustained.

As pointed out in the previous discussion regarding the Canadian economy, the ountry has and continues to experience economic dependency. In the 1970s United States economic dominance of Canadian industry made Canada overly reliant on shipping raw and crudely processed resources to the United States. It was argued that Canada’s economy would remain unstable, dependent and underdeveloped if it did not adopt an “industrial strategy” involving control of investment and production decisions by multinational corporations, and active management of international trade.

As a result, the Canadian labor movement and the New Democratic Party began to embrace economic policies that were interventionist. A federally owned oil company, Petro Canada, was established out of concern that the United States owned multinationals were depleting Canadian resources and providing no long-term benefit to Canadians. It rapidly grew to the size of the multinationals themselves through a series of takeovers. A number of industrial-subsidy and regional-development programs were established to assist the restructuring of industries such as ship building, pulp and paper and fish processing.

But by the early 1980s, the federal Liberal government began to renounce its interventionism stance. In 1984, the government was defeated by the “free arket” concept and joined. In the early 1990s, however, neo-conservative views changed, primarily as a result of the acute economic crisis that overcame the country since the Free Trade Agreement had come into effect. In Simao’s view (1996 ), “free markets” have manifestly failed to bring about a revival of industrial capacity.

In spite of projections of a substantial recovery this year, Canada’s economy will not be able to avoid a negative turn if Quebec decides to once again attempt economic independence (Simao, 1996). If Quebec chooses this route, there will be a reduced level of nternational economic dependency, but if not, the reverse is true. For this reason it is not possible to include this hypothesis in the current analysis. Because Canada has well established liberal democratic institutions, hypotheses five can be answered in the following manner: it is less likely there will be sustained state terrorism.

In addition, because there is infrequent overt military interference in the civilian government and Canada is not noted to be under military regime, the less the likelihood of sustained state terrorism, as suggested in the sixth hypothesis. Also, the lite in Canada have not resorted to illegal and unethical political strategies to stay in power. Neither are fraudulent electoral practices a common occurrence. For this reason it can be concluded that there is less likelihood of state terrorism, as postulated by hypothesis seven.

It was next indicated that the greater the number of stable political parties, the less likely state terrorism will be sustained. While stability of political parties has increased and decreased from time to time, there are still a number of relatively stable Canadian political parties. Therefore it is less likely that state terrorism will be sustained. Ethnicity and ideology are the concerns of the next two hypothesis which state that the greater the ethnic differentiation and identification or the higher the ideological commitment among those who represent the government, the more likely state terrorism.

It is interesting to note that the history of Canada has been variously depicted as the history of the appropriation and colonization of territories by successive groups, such as the French-Canadians in Quebec and in certain areas of the West, the Ukrainians in the Prairies, the British in Ontario, and immigrant groups in various rban areas. This “mosaic” originated with colonialism and was given its basic shape by Confederation. In the early years, an unequal power relation was established between the two charter groups which jointly had the power to determine which other groups to admit into Canada and what they were to do after admission.

While the goals of the Canadian government toward multiculturalism, particularly since 1971, have begun to reverse the existing ethnic hierarchy, they have served to affirm the notion that Canada is truly composed of an ethnic mosaic. As a result of ethnic diversity, ideologies re strong and entrenched in the very core of Canada’s societies. While ethnicity is no longer no longer as powerful a determiner of power and privilege as it once was, it still has a very strong influence on the political, economic, and social milieu of the country as a whole.

For these reasons, there is more likely to be state terrorism. There are two parts to hypothesis twelve. The first part states that, if government leaders estimate that terrorism is more effective than alternatives in eliminating or reducing perceived or actual challenges to its policies, then state terrorism is more likely to occur. Terrorism as enacted police groups has appeared to be more effective than alternatives for Canadian government leaders.

However, police groups have been granted the legal authority to deal with anti-state terrorist groups through political actions. The Prevention of Terrorism Act, passed in 1974, and amended since to give increasingly more power to the police is a good example of the way government leaders can legally justify subsequent actions. But Canada cannot be compared to other governments such as the one in Chile which routinely employs state terrorism as a method of governance. The answer to part one of this hypothesis is certainly not clear.

In comparison to other countries and in reviewing the readings, however, it must be concluded that Canadian leaders have found alternatives to terrorism in its purist sense and therefore state terrorism is more likely not to occur or be sustained. The second portion of the hypothesis suggests that the more pervasive military bureaucratic structures are, the more likely individuals within such organizations would be willing to engage in terrorism. Military bureaucratic structures are not pervasive in Canada. Thus, this portion can e excluded from the present analysis. The final hypothesis also is comprised of two parts.

According to both parts, a dramatic event such as a direct and serious challenge to state authority increases the likelihood of state terrorism as does the more widespread the incidence of civil conflict. This has been seen to be quite true in Canada, as clearly evidenced by the government’s reaction to the FLQ when two political leaders were kidnapped and one was murdered. The reaction was swift and far-reaching, as described previously. It may be concluded that state terrorism will always evidence an increase in Canada when nti-state groups increase their terrorist activities. What conclusions can thus be reached from the above analyses?

State terrorism can be concluded to be less likely to be sustained in Canada for the following reasons: (1) Canada’s economy is industrially advanced; (2) the country has well-established democratic institutions; (3) Canada has a number of stable political parties; (4) there is infrequent military intervention and interference; (5) the elite have not resorted to illegal and unethical political strategies to stay in power; (6) military bureaucratic structures are not pervasive; and (7) government leaders have ound alternatives in eliminating or reducing perceived or actual challenges to its policies.

On the other hand, there a number of hypotheses were accepted as pertains to increased and sustained potential for state terrorism. These include the following reasons: (1) economic growth is not sustained; (2) wealth is not equitably distributed among gender, class, and ethnic groups; (3) Canada still experiences a great level of international economic dependency, although this has decreased in the past few years; and (4) there is high ethnic differentiation and identification through the country, resulting in high ideological commitment among those who represent the government.

In summary, it would appear that there are more reasons to conclude that state terrorism is not likely to increase nor be sustained. Still, these variables are volatile and can rapidly change. As noted in the readings, given the inherent complexity of social reality and widely disparate conditions under which state terrorism occurs, any attempt at an adequate and comprehensive analysis is, at best, an educated guess. However, the two models of terrorism that were provided in the reading supply a framework under which meaningful analysis can take place.