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Strategic Terrorism: The Framework and Its Fallacies


This article seeks to lay out a comprehensive framework by which those who utilize a campaign of strategic terrorism seek to attain their ends. It identifies a distinctive modus operandi: 1) disorientation: to alienate the authorities from their citizens, reducing the government to impotence in the eyes of the population; 2) target response: to induce a target to respond in a manner that is favorable to the insurgent cause; 3) gaining legitimacy: to exploit the emotional impact of the violence to insert an alternative political message. By elucidating the strategy of terrorism, the analysis also reveals its inherent limitations. Resting on the premise that a militarily more powerful adversary will in some way feel restrained from bringing the full force of its military superiority to bear, the strategy relies exclusively on the exploitation of the psychological effects of armed action, thereby rendering it vulnerable to those who are willing to view the resolution of clashes of interest principally in terms of the tangibles of military power.

Publication Information

Full Citation:

Neumann, Peter R., and M.L.R. Smith. 2007. "Strategic Terrorism: The Framework and Its Fallacies." Journal of Strategic Studies, 28 (January): 571-595. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01402390500300923​

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