Structural violence as one cause for international terrorism
Strukturelle Gewalt als Ursache für internationalen Terrrorismus
Counterterrorism in perspective. by Cornelia Beyer / Perspektiven der Antiterror-Politik
Repressive Politiken im Rahmen des "war on terror" hatten nicht die erwünschten Effekte. Weder ließ sich der internationale Terrorismus durch den Krieg in Afghanistan und Irak eindämmen, noch wurde dem Terrorismus durch die Kontrolle von Finanztransaktionen und anderen Netwar-ansätzen der Boden entzogen. Stattdessen nimmt die Gewalt besonders im Mittleren und Nahen Osten zu. Die offiziellen Daten der US-Amerikanischen Administration, die einen Erfolg im Kampf gegen den internationalen Terrorismus anzeigten, mußten vor kurzem widerrufen werden. Andere Daten von der RAND Corporation parallel gesammelt, zeigen an, dass der internationale Terrorismus seit der Amtsübernahme von Präsident Bush zugenommen hat. Die letzten drei Jahre haben - trotz all der Bemühungen der internationalen Gemeinschaft - keine deutliche Besserung gebracht. Aus diesem Grund, so argumentiert die Autorin, sind neue Ansätze im Kampf gegen den Terrorismus von Nöten.
Internationaler Terrorismus hat internationale und dann intranationale Gewalt als deutlichste Form von Konflikt in den internationalen Beziehungen abgelöst. Er wird beschrieben als asymmetrische Kriegsführung und kann verstanden werden als Gewalt gegen eine als arrogant und ungerecht wahrgenommene Hegemonie der westlichen Weltordnung, besonders der Ordnungsvorstellungen der Vereinigten Staaten. Es gibt andere Formen des internationalen Terrorismus durchaus, die sich nicht primär auf diese politischen Ziele beziehen, und auch für den internationalen Terrorismus, der im Mittleren Osten zu beobachten ist, gibt es ebenso andere Ursachen. Die hier beschriebenen jedoch dürfen mit Blick auf den letzteren nicht vergessen werden und sind notwendigerweise in Betracht zu ziehen, wenn man den zugrund liegenden Konflikt lösen will und zu konstruktiven Lösungen kommen möchte. Die Debatte, wie man internationalem Terrorismus effektiv begegnen kann, wird intensiv geführt. Leider wird hier jedoch wenig Augenmerk gelegt auf die zugrunde liegenden Ursachen und bedingenden Faktoren. Größtenteils drehen sich die Begründungen um die Faktoren Religion und Ideologie. Diese reichen aber als Erklärung nicht aus, wenn man annimmt, dass ebenjene als Symptom und nicht Ursache zu begreifen sind. Andere Faktoren, wie zum Beispiel strukturelle Gewalt und Imperialismus, die nicht unabhängig von fehlender Entwicklung zu sehen sind, werden zu selten als erklärende Faktoren in Betracht gezogen. Hier fehlt es dem Westen an selbstkritischer Reflexion. Strukturelle Gewalt und Imperialismus sind gefährlich, da sie zu direkter Gewalt führen. In diesem Artikel stellt die Autorin einen Zusammenhang her zwischen dem Konzept der strukturellen Gewalt, entwickelt von Johan Galtung, und dem internationalen Terrorismus. Es werden schließlich Empfehlungen für eine verbesserte Anti-terrorismus-Politik gegeben, die mehr auf Wirtschaftshilfe und Entwicklung setzt. Die in dem Artikel geäußerte Kritik wendet sich vor allem an die Anti-terrorismus-Politik der Vereinigten Staaten.
Die Autorin is post-graduierte Studentin der Politischen Wissenschaften und Internationalen Beziehungen an den Universitäten München, Berlin, Syracuse. Sie hat zum Thema Anti-Terrorismus-Politik an der Freien Universität Berlin und der Universität Syracuse gearbeitet und beschäftigt sich zur Zeit im Rahmen der Vorbereitung ihrer Dissertation mit der Frage nach den demokratischen Potenzialen globaler Medien für global governance.
Strategy and practice within the war on terror have failed. Even though the war on terror was conducted with enormous efforts, international terrorism has not vained or decreased significantly. The data provided by the State Department of the United States are indicating a decline in the numbers of international incidents from 335 in the year 2001 to 190 in the year 2003, but there numbers are not counting the incidents in Iraq  and the number of fatilities just with for example 35 US-Americans has increased in comparison to 12 in the year 1998 and 23 in the year 2002. Experts are even talking about an increase in the basis of international terrorism  and of international terrorism  since 2001. The official results are put into perspective as well by the data of the RAND Corporation. According to these data, in the year 1999 there have been 74 incidents on the international level, in the year 2002 there have been 290 . The trend seemingly does not point in a positive direction. This is implicating, that the existing strategies are not optimized and insuffient for achieving the aim of eliminating or seriously decimating terrorism on the international scale.
This paper aims at providing with a different approach at combatting international terrorism, with combining peace theory with the trial to explain possible root causes of terrorism structurally. It aims at explaining international terrorism with structural causes of international order. The here to be derived conclusions, even if not all-inclusive, could be used to inspire policies that put more emphasis on deescalation and conflict management than control. The policies that were pursued since September 11, especially by the United States, but also those of the European states, are aiming at the symptom and not the causes of terrorism. Reason for this is according to Tarak Barkawi the incapacity to see oneself from the outside and to thus to understand how one is perceived: "For it is western illusions, primarily about ourselves and our past and present role in the world, that deny us and our leaders the clarity of vision necessary to understand this conflict."  But in order to incite the process of peaceful change , just these root causes have to be addressed as well.
U.S.-president Bush did indicate the necessity of such an approach even in his security strategy of 2002. One would want to lead a war of ideas against the causes of terrorism: "diminishing the underlying conditions that spawn terrorism" . For this, the search for root causes must be one step in direction on the way to a long-ranging and sustainable problem solving strategy.
"The word `terrorism´ describes the tactics, but ... only portrays the perpetrator as evil, satanic, and does not go to the roots of the conflict" .
International terrorism is in part explained with the identity approach , and in part interpreted within the framework of the idea of a cultural or civilizational conflict . One of the probably most founded explanations is coming from the orientalist Bernhard Lewis. He is explaining the disposition to violence within the Arab world with the frustration about not used chances and the missed accession to globalization. But most prominent in public and in the academic debate are the explanations of terrorism by Islam  as well as the in the whole region significant absence of democracy as cause for rebellion . Relatively few attention is given to political  or economic  causes as precipitating and motivational factors. These explanations are seemingly not sufficient, are probably even influenced by a "eurocentric" or more accurately Western bias. An accurate analysis of "root causes" and "precipitating factors" is necessary, in order to understand the development of international terrorism and to effectively counter it.
I will apply the concept of structural violence and imperialism of Johan Galtung in order to explain one possible root cause of international terrorism. With this, I indirectly refer to a debate which took place between Tarak Barkawi and Mark Laffey, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, John M. Owen, William Pfaff, Martin Shaw, Immanuel Wallerstein and William Wohlforth. More recent contributions to this debate are, for example, Michael Mann and Chalmers Johnson. The terms of Johan Galtung are associated and functionally similar, he still is providing with more complexity in his model of imperialism.
Johan Galtung has defined five dimensions of imperialism: economic, political, militarily, communicative and cultural. Imperialism is characterized as one asymmetric structure, composed of one center and pheripheries. The relation between these is characterized by structural violence: "Whether expressed as dominance or imperialism, structural violence is vividly at work." . Johan Galtung did term the concept of structural violence in order to refer to each possible limitation of human potential by economic and political structures. Unequal availability of resources, power and life chances are forms of structural violence. Structural violence is further expressed as oppression (Unterdrückung) and exploitation (Ausbeutung) . Structural violence in itself is problematic, it is the more dangerous as it is leading again and again to direct violence. The chronically oppressed often is the one that resorts to direct violence. I will define imperialism as combination of structural violence (especially in terms of inequality and inequity) and "hard" policies. Hard policies are marked by the principles of intervention and control, for example with the accent on military means and "sticky power"  in the economic and political sphere.
Terrorism is defined as a particular variety of political violence which employs, "[t]he systematic use of murder and destruction, and the threat of murder and destruction in order to terrorize individuals, groups, communities, or governments into conceding to the terrorist's political demands. It is one of the oldest techniques of psychological warfare." . The term `terrorism´ has similar definitions within the U.S. government agencies tasked with combatting the phenomenon. For example, the Department of Defense defines it as "The calculated use of violence or the threat of violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious or ideological." The FBI defines it as ". . . [t]he unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives." The U.S. Code has it to say: "The term `terrorism´ means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience." .
International terrorism is described as asymmetrical warfare by Münckler . His development can be traced from the guerrilla and the partisan wars up to the recent forms of transnational terrorism, as experienced in New York on September 11, 2001 and Madrid on March 11, 2004. This new form of terrorism is directed against and targeting Western nations, especially the United States of America , directly as well as indirectly by attacking its allies. It is new due to the factual number of victims (3.300 in New York), its transnationality (the United States was attacked on its homeland for the first time since 1941), and its logistical performance (it deployed and used the infrastructures and technologies of globalization) and decentralized structure. Here, I refer solely to the phenomenon of international terrorism, which is directed against the United States or their allies. International terrorism probably is much smaller in personell than national terrorisms , even if enormous in the proportions of violence and attention, that it raises.
The mere labelling of the incidents of Madrid and New York as terrorism do hint to an understanding of imperialism: Terrorism can be understood as a violent action from within a societal order against the very same in order to attack or even overthrow the ruling elites . So, the term terrorism itself does refer to an presumed hierarchic structure with a commonly acknowledged elite. This interpretation of terrorism would approve the notion of imperialism (after Galtung) with conflict as the outcome of structural violence. Terrorism then would address a unipolar hierarchical - or violent - structure which is perceived as "unrighteuos, seditious and arrogant" . The mechanism resembles the concept of `revolution´ from Galtung, where the feudal structure is the root cause of `personal´ violence.The actual debate on international terrorism is mostly ignoring imperialism  and structural violence as one root cause for direct violence .
Structural explanation for terrorism
Structure is a set of elements with an accompagnying set of relationships. For the past decade, the structure of international relations was one of unipolarity in a system of increasing globalization and transnationalisation: Within the military sector the overwhelming capabilities of the United States and their deployment served for the provision of international ordering capability, the economic supremacy enabled global trade and the growth of an global economy, and its technological leading position did result in the spread of a global infrastructure and technological development. In conjunction with the promotion of liberal ideas, democracy and free trade after the end of the bipolar system enabled the era of globalisation, with its increasing transnationalism and before unknown harmony internationally. Globalisation and democratization themselves thus are markers of the U.S.´s global supremacy. The promotion of democratic values and free market ideology and practices as well as the provision of public goods can be subsumed under the term "soft power" . Soft power is the basis for a consensual and commonly beneficial empire, which is termed benign hegemony. The success of benign hegemony thus depends on the U.S.'s liberal policies buildt on the belief that properly directed globalisation is beneficially in reordering the world.
Failures of globalization  and American hegemony developing into an empire, which did become a predominant feature of the new millennium, did raise another form of violence. International terrorism is becoming the modern threat directed against the world of globalized states. In opposition to former guerrilla-warfare (which is its ancestary form of aggression) it is even more offensive and acting on a global (transnational) scale.
The difference between benevolent or benign hegemony and empire does lie in the adaptation of multilateralist strategies against the adaptation of power politics in order to exert dominance. Empire thus could be understood as a successfully implemented imperialism and as well is associated to hegemony. It subsumes the notion of control, which is not necessarily implied in hegemony.
Lebow and Kelly are referring back to Thucydides here  and his description of the antique Athens. He had a "complex and nuanced understanding of political authority that distinguished between hegemonia (legitimated leadership) and arkhe (Kontrolle) and emphasizes ideology as much as it does material capability." .
Thus, empire is defined according to three core characteristics:
- ideology and material capabilities
They are the most explicit in the recent debate about empire, which took place between Martin Shaw, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, John M. Owen, William Pfaff, Immanuel Wallerstein and William Wohlforth. Still, I will not draw on them but on Johan Galtung, who did addess the issue long before.
Galtung defines five dimensions of imperialism: economic, political, military, communication and cultural. Imperialism is characterized as a feudal structure with one center and peripheries. The relationship between them is one of structural violence: "Whether expressed as dominance or imperialism, structural violence is vividly at work." . Johan Galtung originally framed the term structural violence to refer to any constraint on human potential due to economic and political structures. Unequal access to resources, to political power, to education, to health care, or to legal standing, are forms of structural violence. Structural violence expresses itself as repression (or uniformity; as the opposite of diversity, pluralism, freedom) and exploitation (or the opposite of equity) . Structural violence is problematic in and of itself, but it is also dangerous because it frequently leads to direct violence. Those who are chronically oppressed are often, for logical reasons, those who resort to direct violence. The recent debate about international terrorism ignores structural violence as one underlying cause for violence expressed as terrorism.
Structural violence is dangerous as it is leading regularly to direct violence. Structural violence is defined as "the cause of the difference between the potential and the actual" . This difference is leading to tensions and "tension leads to aggression ... leads to conflict" . Direct violence, which is emanating from structural violence, is directed agains asymmetric structures of interaction. She is caused by: "relative deprivation of which [the periphery] is constantly reminded because its rank-disequilibrated situation is a part of its day-to-day social existence; this is experienced as basic social injustice" . One can speak of imperialism, if political, military and economic control and intervention are added.
Violence, in its material as well as sublimal form, is a common feature of politics, as well as of international politics and relations. Whereas in classical international relations theory, violence was depicted as warfare between states as actors, this structure has changed within the last decade about two times. Since the end of the Cold War, violence is not primarily conducted between states but is becoming a feature of intrastate-dynamics, especially in de-colonized and developing states. This phenomenon of structural change was described as "small wars" .
Johan Galtung originally framed the term structural violence to refer to any constraint on human potential due to economic and political structures. Unequal access to resources, to political power, to education, to health care, or to legal standing, are forms of structural violence. Violence is defined as the cause of the difference between the potential and the actual, the realization of potentialities is - directly or indirectly - forestalled.
"Whenever expressed as dominance or imperialism, structural violence is vividly at work." . The definition by Galtung of imperialism is much clearer and encompassing (three criteria, two mechanisms, five types and three phases) than the recent empire-debate. There are different types of imperialism, according to Galtung. These are: economic, political, military, communication and cultural imperialism. Imperialism is perceived as a dominance relation between nations. "It is a general structural relationship between two collectivities, a system that splits up collectivities and relates some of the parts to each other in relations of harmony of interest, and other parts in relations of disharmony of interest, or conflict of interest." . This relationship can be conflictual or harmonious. There is conflict, or a disharmony of interest, if the two parties (periphery and center) are coupled together in such a way that the living condition gap between them is increasing. Generally, imperialism is marked by inequality with the periphery at the disadvantage and the arrangement largely in the interest of the center. The center is located in a `feudal interaction structure´ , this implies the existence of an elite and hierarchy.
Structural violence is problematic in and of itself, but it is also dangerous because it frequently leads to direct violence. Structural violence "is here defined as the cause of the difference between the potential and the actual" . This difference leads to tension and "tension leads to aggression ... leads to conflict" . In conflict, people are tied to "each other in a web of often cruel and highly destructive conflict" . Actual violence emanating from structural violence (after Galtung) is directed against feudal interaction structures. It is caused by "relative deprivation of which [the periphery] is constantly reminded because its rank-disequilibrated situation is a part of its day-to-day social existence; this is experienced as basic social injustice" . Preconditions for violence are a change oriented ideology based on values, data and hypotheses. Values are leading to an image of the desired future, data are leading to an image of the rejected present and hypotheses are about how to proceed from the present to the future . Further, it needs a charismatic leader and frustrated expectations: For expecations to develop there has to be an increase in standard of living or life chances in general. Frustration comes into the picture when there is only a decrease in the growth rate . Even if Galtung developed his theory not with regards to terrorism but to e.g. Latin American revolutions and guerrilla warfare, I think it is applicable to the former phenomenon.
Imperialism of the West, especially of the United States within the Middle East, is expressed in the five dimensions of Galtung. Within the economic sphere, there is the picture of a maybe too onesided relation. The United States are demanding free trade and the acknowledgement of WTO-principles , are at the same time conducting relatively few structural economic aid: within the past year, 15,79 millionen dollars were given to the region, the most of which to Israel and Egypt, at least half of it was for military aims . Opposed to this are about 60 million dollars for military sorties in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the military sphere, the presence of the United States - with 7.000 troops just in Saudi Arabia (up to 2003) - is one motive for Osama Bin Laden´s call for Jihad. These troops were to be redrawn in 2003 - this up to date seemingly has not happened in full extent . Additionally, there is an apparent inequality in power. While Saudi Arabia is disposing of an army of 124.500 troops, the United States is disposing of 1.427.000. The relation is relativated, if one puts the numbers in proportion to the population figures or compares regional capabilities. In addition, the interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq with the following presence of American military and military cooperation with states like Egypt and Jordan  do raise resentment. Politically, the United States are confronting the region as a "pedagogue"  with the demand of democratization and political restructuring (p.e. versus the Palestinian Authority, Afghanistan and Iraq) while at the same time strong interlinkages are in existance with absolutist monarchies like Saudi Arabia. In the sphere of culture and communication, there are attempts made from sides of the United States, to spread liberal values in the region .
A new approach for evaluating and developing policies is necessary as, so Nabulsi, "groupthink" has entered the political thinking even of the Europeans after September 11, "in which the accepted wisdom is so radically - and dangerously - divorced from the obvious realities" . An impartial perspective on politics and policies is necessary, in order to be able to break out of "groupthink".
The problematique with American approaches in the Middle East lies in first a dependency on Middle Eastern oil which second leads to aggressive or interventionist behaviour in order to control. Both aspects have to be addressed in order to reduce structural violence and solve the underlying conflict of terrorism.
What is missing in strategic and political thought is a debate on how to solve instead of aggravate the conflict that is underlying international terrorism. Military policies and an emphasis on security measures not only do contribute to an increase in violence, as the data of RAND show. They also lead to an increase in recruitment potential. What would be more sensible, are soft policies like economic aid, knowledge transfer and structural adaptation policies. They have, of course, be conducted under aspects of cultural diplomacy. Of urgent importance is the diminuition of joblessness, especially for the urban youth in the region, as well as a more active approach for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Here, Europe should take the role of a mediator. Europe does put its stakes more in pursuing policies of modernization instead of democratization. This means, one is assuming that development and democracy cannot take place without the basis of a societal change. For this reason, in opposition to and as a role model for US-American policies, there are "soft" policies pursued.
The foreign policies of the EU are getting a new role and more weight by the draft of a European constitution. Finally, it can be the aim, to advise the partner United States with rational policies. U.S. policies are not conferring with the demands of mediation . Because of this, a self-confident but sensible European policy is necessary, in order to correct U.S. policies and to complement them, not in order to compete with them .
Europe is seen as the only possible "Gegengewicht" (balancing power)  to the world power USA. Especially because of this and because of the increasing importance that European foreign policies are having with the draft constitution, critical but progessive thinking about policies is necessary.
Possible options for policies of the European Union vis-a-vis the United States with regards to the conflict that is underlying terrorism are to refrain from hailing interventionist policies. There is no chance of prohibiting intervention on the military path, but international fora should be used more intensively. The war on terror in its present form should not get as much support as it did in the beginning, but instead, other options should be given and promoted. Further, there should be increased attempts to make proposals in order to reduce the oil dependency of the United States, this could be pursued in kind of knowledge or technology transfer. Third, publicity and voice should be of much more concern. On all levels - the political as well as the general public - open and unbiased information as well the oportunity to criticise and raise voice should be given and used.
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These are, as long as they are directed at military personal, not defined as terrorism.
- So Axel Kuhlmann in person. Compare also: "Sympathie für Landsmann Bin Laden", that is: "sympathy for Bin Laden", Spiegel Online, 10. June 2004.
- Bruce Hoffman as cited at CBS, 29. April 2004.
- Compare RAND-MIPT Terrorism Incident Database, graphics see appendix. Imperialism leads to an increase of international terrorism. In the time from 1999 to 2000, according to the data of RAND-MIPT, 2055 international incidents were counted, in the time from 2002 to 2003 the number was 3997 . The intensivation of structural violence by hard policies is intensifying the phenomenon of international terrorism.
- Barkawi 2004, 20.
- Kupchan et al. 2001.
- National Security Strategy of the United States 2002, 6.
- Galtung 2001.
- Gaddis 2002.
- Huntington 1993 and Barber 1992.
- P.e. Bruce Hoffman 1999 and Daniel Benjamin et al. 2002.
- P.e. Anthony Lake 2002 and Mohammed M. Hafez 2003.
- Exception here is for example Brzezinski 2002: "American involvement in the Middle East is clearly the main impulse of the hatred that has been directed at America. ... political emotions have been shaped by ... the subsequent American support for Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians, as well as by the direct injection of American power into the region." Brzezinski 2002.
- See Craig Calhoun 2002.
- Galtung 180a, 107.
- See Galtung 1980a, 107.
- Nye 2004.
- Wilkinson 1977, 51.
- Title 22 of the United States Code, Section 2656 f (d).
- Münkler 2001, 53ff.
- See Office of Counterterrorism, State Department.
- See the "Patterns of Global Terrorism - 2000", Report of the Office of Counterterrorism at the State Department. He was predicted to be in decline, see Keppel 2002.
- Daase refers to terrorism as violence against the state or from below, 2001, 61.
- A citation made by Cox 2002, 270, referring to Muslim criticism against America.
- See the cited debate between Tarak Barkawi et al..
- Lebow and Kelly 2001, 593.
- Nye 2004.
- "It [globalization] could produce wealth but it could not necessarily distribute it more equitably or with the necessary intelligence.", in: LaFeber 2001.
- But for their definition of empire.
- Lebow, Kelly 2001, 593.
- Galtung 1980, 107.
- See Galtung 1980, 107.
- Galtung 1969, 168.
- Galtung 1974, 67.
- Galtung 1978, 280.
- Kaldor, Münckler.
- Galtung 1980a, 107.
- Galtung 1980, 438.
- Galtung 1980, 461.
- Galtung 1969, 168.
- Galtung 1974, 67.
- Galtung 1978, 280.
- Galtung 1978, 298.
- Galtung 1978, 303.
- See Murden 2002, 103.
- Federation of American Scientists.
- According to an article of the Schweizer Wochenzeitung, 40.000 civilians and a troop of 400 men are deployed as a training mission. The recent data provided by the US government (Department of Defense) differ in comparison to others (for example the homepage of the 54th Signal Battallion, which is stationed on site). According to inofficial accounts, four bases are in existence furtheron in Saudi Arabia, the homepage of for example the Eskan-Village-Basis in Saudi Arabia is not officially accessible.
- Compare data on the cooperation on military education, see Federation of American Scientists.
- Barkawi 2004, 19.
- See on this the Middle East Partnership Initiative. The United States did attempt the install US broadcasting for propaganda aims, not with much success. As well, the broadcasting station Al Jazeera was bombed in 2002, because it then was perceived as being to critical, before it became more American friendly in 2004.
- Nabulsi 2004, 228.
- See Asseburg and Perthes.
- Perthes 2004, 5.
- Rudolf 2002, 7.