Does Terrorism Work? By Richard English

Browser review

Sat, Oct 1, 2016, 01:00


Book Title:
Does Terrorism Work?


Richard English


Guideline Price:

Richard English poses an “important, controversial and difficult” question in the title of this thought-provoking, scholarly study. Terrorism exists because “perfectly normal people at certain times consider it to be the most effective way of achieving necessary goals”.

The book’s structure has an analytical framing introduction, four detailed case studies (al-Qaeda, Hamas, the Provisional IRA and Eta) and a synoptic conclusion looking at other cases of non-state terrorism.

To answer his question satisfactorily, English employs four defining test categories: strategic victory, partial strategic victory, tactical success and inherent rewards of the struggle. The strongest of the case studies is that of the Provisionals, English’s particular field of expertise. He argues that they achieved no strategic victory but experienced some success in the other three categories. The same probably applies to the other three groups.

The answer to his question is “yes” (to some extent) and “no” (to a larger extent) with the vitally concomitant question, “Could similar results have been achieved by non-violent means?”, deserving consideration given the awful human suffering caused by violent actions.