You must write a medium-length (3-4 page) paper on TWO of the three topics listed below. Each of your two written responses will be worth up to 150 points, for a total of 300 possible points for the exam.
I will have the same two major criteria for evaluating your final exam that I have used throughout the semester. The first is quality and persuasiveness of your arguments. Each topic must have a strong argument expressing your interpretation and reasoning. A casual or superficial response will be insufficient to earn you a strong grade. The second major criterion is your mastery of the material from the course—this is a comprehensive final exam and in it I expect you to demonstrate a thorough understanding of all the material we have covered in the class. You must show an ability to think in abstract terms and to write about terrorism as a general phenomenon as we did throughout the term—here the pivotal readings are Merari, Richardson, Crenshaw/Post, and Moghadam. In addition, you must use historical case studies to provide you with specific examples to support your position on the topics.
In total, your final is to be no more than 8 pages long, with the same general stylistic parameters we have used all quarter—10-12 point font, 1” margins, double-spaced. You must cite specifics from the lectures as well as the course readings in your paper, for which you may use parenthetical references. Please do not use sources not assigned for the class.
ALL finals will be due online Monday, December 7, by 1 pm. Late penalties will apply as before.
I MUST post graduating senior grades on Friday, December 11, so if you are graduating (congratulations!) be certain that you submit your work on time and also indicate on the first page that you are a graduating senior so that I grade your work first.
I will be available for regular online office hours if you would like to talk about the exam.
Final Topic A
A crucial theme that we have noted in our coverage of terrorism, particularly with our coverage of democratic states and terrorism, is the theme of unintended consequences—the way that counter-terrorism can often become counter-productive and result in an escalation of violence instead of eliminating it. This is readily apparent in Black Flags. The US certainly did not want to strengthen terrorism after the 9/11 attacks, but as the book clearly shows, the emergence of an al Qaeda inspired chapter in Iraq and its eventual transformation into ISIS, a powerful terrorist/guerrilla organization with regional aspirations, was a consequence of the US response. Similarly, the FLN in Algeria was a small, unknown actor when the war began in 1954, and owed much of its growth to counter-productive French policies. The UK did not intend to strengthen the Provisional IRA in the 1970s and the Israelis certainly did not intend for their invasion of southern Lebanon in 1982 to serve as the catalyst for the formation of Hizballah. Yet in all four cases counterterrorism did prove to be at least partially counter-productive. Why? Why have the counterterrorism policies pursued by democratic states sometimes been extremely counter-productive? For this question you should certainly think about the narrow impact of counterterrorism on terrorist groups, but it is also important that you look at the bigger political question. What kind of impact did counter-terrorism have on the populations in all these areas? Why? How do these bigger political policies affect the growth/decline of terrorist groups? For this topic you must use the relevant lectures, PowerPoints, and readings for all four areas. In addition, you should show a familiarity with terrorism more generally—don’t forget about our readings from early in the class, especially Richardson and Merari on the growth of terrorism. Finally, from our last day lecture, consider Richardson’s rules on combatting terrorism: what rules did these countries follow, which ones did they ignore? Why, do you think?
Final Topic B
One of the themes of this course has been how terrorism ends. Earlier in the term we saw several cases of success—the Provisional IRA succeeded in bringing about a negotiated process in which its main goals were considered, even if the result fell short of what the IRA wanted. The FLN in Algeria and Irgun and Lehi in Mandate Palestine succeeded completely in their goals of establishing states. For this topic, I would like you to compare these cases of success with cases of failure—the destruction of the LTTE in Sri Lanka and the implosion of the Weather Underground and RAF. Why did the IRA, the FLN, Irgun, and Lehi achieve some degree of success while the LTTE, the Red Army Faction, and the Weather Underground failed? To develop this argument, you will need to review the specific material for all of the groups included above. Also, you will need to review the material from early in the semester on terrorism as a general phenomenon so that you can make a meaningful comparison. In particular, evaluate the above groups in terms of primary motivations—which groups had clear and achievable political goals and managed not to be sidetracked by secondary motivations? Also, think of terrorism as political violence, as violence that is used to represent and promote the agendas of a particular community. Which of these groups managed to make a strong claim toward representing their communities and why?
Final Topic C
After the September 11 attacks, it was very common for analysts, politicians, and other public figures to speak of a “new terrorism,” as represented by Al Qaeda’s global jihadism. Al Qaeda’s terrorism was truly international rather than having a specific local focus such as nationalist terrorism. At the same time there were significant similarities between al Qaeda and local jihadi groups like Hamas and Hizballah. All three groups have religion as a primary motivation and all three have made extensive use of suicide bombing as a brutal and intimidating weapon. More recently al Qaeda’s Iraqi chapter evolved into ISIS and diverged from al Qaeda, and seemed to have qualities of all the aforementioned groups: it had international ambitions—establishing a caliphate—like al Qaeda, but has also set about conquering, holding, and administering territory, like Hamas and Hizballah. Your task for this topic is to compare these organizations to answer the following: Was ISIS as it emerged and evolved from 2003-2014 more like al Qaeda, or was it more like local jihadi organizations like Hizballah and Hamas? To compare the groups, you need to consider the overall ideologies/goals of the groups, their relationships with the groups of people that they claim to represent, and their capabilities, military, political, social, and so on. For this section, be sure to cover the relevant lecture/PowerPoint material on all four groups. In terms of reading, you must use Warrick, Black Flags for AQ in Iraq/ISIS, and the reserves for Al Qaeda by Lawrence Wright and Thomas Hegghammer, Krista Wiegand’s article and Byman’s chapter on Hizballah, and Robin Wright and Jessica Stern’s coverage of Hamas. (Note—Stern’s coverage of al Qaeda in Terror in the Name of God is very dated and inaccurate; please don’t use it for the paper!) However you approach this topic, on the whole you will probably find some similarities and differences among the groups, and your argument should reflect this; at the same time I will expect you to weigh the similarities and differences in order to answer the basic question