What exactly IS Terrorism? And do we do it?

Themis statue

“In the endeavor to meet that vow, I pledge you every effort this Nation possesses. I pledge you that we shall neither commit nor provoke aggression, that we shall neither flee nor invoke the threat of force, that we shall never negotiate out of fear, we shall never fear to negotiate.

Terror is not a new weapon. Throughout history it has been used by those who could not prevail, either by persuasion or example. But inevitably they fail, either because men are not afraid to die for a life worth living, or because the terrorists themselves came to realize that free men cannot be frightened by threats, and that aggression would meet its own response. And it is in the light of that history that every nation today should know, be he friend or foe, that the United States has both the will and the weapons to join free men in standing up to their responsibilities.”

John F. Kennedy’s Address to the U.N General Assembly

September 25,1961

Link to Full Address

U.S Army Definition of Terrorism

Calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious or ideological in nature. This is done through intimidation coercion or instilling fear.


It’s definitely debatable if we are not “provoking aggression”, or “invoking the threat of force”. According to the government’s definition terrorism might be a tactic it regularly employs as well. The waters of war are murky, and what I would suppose would be the legitimization of these actions is the grade school excuse “they did it first”. “Fight fire with fire”. Whether you are a pacifist or a militant, or like most of us something in between, the choice between visceral duress or peaceful valor is a difficult one, if not in theory, then in practice. But there is, at the very least, the need to call it like it is.The truth, as I see it, is we are willing to do whatever it takes to become a stronger world power. If we can all come to accept this reality we can catalyze the debate needed to determine if we agree or disagree with this approach.

 I do not expect contrition from our rulers, but I do expect  transparency.

Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.

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