What is Terrorism?

Professor Martha Crenshaw of the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford is an expert on terrorism. Following are three videos produced in 2014 that make up one lecture, jointly titled Understanding Terrorism.

The first video, What is Terrorism?, discusses definitions. The second, What Causes Terrorism, provides some very useful analysis. The third, Does Terrorism Work. takes an overview and looks at some historic examples where there is debate on the effectiveness of terrorism. Professor Crenshaw concludes, and I agree, that terrorism is largely counter-productive to a cause. Even where the cause succeeds, that is usually because of other factors and the success was delayed by the presence of terrorism.

As an overview on the topic of terrorism these videos provide a good starting point for future discussion.

4 Responses to “What is Terrorism?”

  1. rickflick says:


  2. nicky says:

    In the case of Islamist terrorism, it is not terrorism in the classical sense (what Crenshaw refers to) that I fear. I fear, as an ex-European, the ‘creeping islamisation’ of society in Europe, and an islamisation of the more fundamentalist kind at that.
    Islam as a world view, and Islamism in particular, is anathema to all the ‘good’ that European democracy stands (stood?) for: free speech, free inquiry, science, secularism, tolerance, women’s rights, etc. etc.
    About everything that you did not like, feared even, in Christianity -now more or less tamed in Europe-, comes back now with a vengeance with Islamism.

    • I read some good stuff from Maajid Nawaz about this issue recently – I wish I could remember where I saw it. It was about how many Muslims in the West have been convinced that in order to be good Muslims they have to embrace the extreme form of the religion especially as part of maintaining their identity. If it comes back to me where I read it, I’ll post a link.

      • nicky says:

        Yes please give me the reference if you can find it. I would appreciate.
        The Reims incident described in the Burka v Bikini post are but a small part of what I’m talking about. The ‘Struthious` Left’s (someone on WEIT coined that excellent term) open legged supine posture whenever Islam and Islamism comes up is another small part. But there are many more… Angry, excited bearded men protesting those who ‘disrespect’ the Prophet, local self-proclaimed community leaders saying this is not your country, we, I -Islam- is the true rule, we decide what you can or cannot do here, I could go on and on…
        Those are examples of the things I fear infinitely more than `terrorism’.

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