At the present time terrorism is an actual issue, which concerns a world community today. The tactics of terror are often considered to be an effective tool for coercion in disputes over various wrangles – political, economic, territorial-ethnic. Max Abrahams in his article “Why terrorism does not work” questioned the conviction about terrorism as an effective strategy for attainment objectives. In the article author made an attempt to explain how terrorists define a success and a failure for theirs activity and what reasons cause ineffectiveness of most terrorist acts. The author’s purpose is to explain causes for which most terrorist attacks are doomed to mishap. Author asserts that coercive policy of terrorist groups is not an effective instrument to achieve purposes.
Initially, the author briefly explains the popular point of view about rationality of the choice of terror tactics to achieve a set goals, citing the works of contemporary researchers in this field who express this belief. According to theirs concepts, terrorism allows to achieve a more profitable bargains, increasing its capabilities in comparison with the target countries (45).
Further, the author expresses his disagreement with this point of view, expressing the opinion that such theses are often “empirically weak” (45). He pays attention to the question of the effectiveness of terrorism, first of all, whether the terrorist campaigns have achieved their main policy goals (46).
Then the author expose his understanding of measuring the effectiveness of terrorists’ actions. He offers to measure the effectiveness of terrorism in two dimensions: combat effectiveness, which means the level of damage caused by coercive force; strategic effectiveness, which means the extent to which the power of coercion achieves its political goals (46). Attainment an intermediate goals does not mean effectiveness; it is more important to achieve ultimate targets. The efficacy of terrorism is measured by comparing their stated objectives with outcomes. Author proclaims the declared targets of terrorist groups are a reliable indicator of their actual intentions. In supportion of this statement author has constructed the system of assessments of the efficiency of terrorism. He putted attention on 28 terrorist organizations, defined theirs objectives and target types and successful (49-50). As a result, the author came to the conclusion that only a few known terrorist (3 of 28) campaigns fully achieved proclaimed goals (51). Even the effectiveness of economic sanctions is higher, according to authors’ statement (50).
The author insensibly leads to the idea of the dependence of the success of a terrorist group on the declared objectives. The author suggests his classification of objectives – limited (territorial claims, natural resources), maximalist (ideological convictions, political transformation) and idiosyncratic (“???? ??????????? ????? ?? ????????????? ???????????-?????????????? ????? ???????????”) (54). The author asserts limited objectives are more favorable to find acceptable solution, because disputes over maximalist goals almost exclude negotiations (54). As maximalist objectives are the most radical, the resistance from target countries is extremely intense, that disturbs its working (55). However, this is not the only factor of success or failure. The author also notes that it is important to pay attention to the “target selection”: groups, which attacks only noncombatant/civilian goals (civilian-centric groups) and groups, which attacks military targets but civilian targets are not excluded (guerilla groups) (55). At the result the author came to conclusion, that guerilla groups have more successful acts than civilian-centric groups. The reason for this phenomenon is that civilian-centric groups are not able to announce theirs goals correctly. That is why targeting countries mostly judge that such groups pursue maximalist goals, which cause to negative effects – a strong resistance and no concessions. (56) Author also explains why targeting countries misinterpret terrorists goals by theory of high correspondence of terrorism (59), which is proves that observers tend to interpret the actor’s goal in terms of the consequences of the action, but they does not they do not notice the fact that the proclaimed goal can significantly differ from the result obtained. As an example author concentrates on three case studies: Russia’s reaction to Apartment bombings in 1999, US response to the September 2001 attacks and Israel’s answer to the First Intifada.
The theoretical value of the article is an original view on the problem of terrorism. Criticizing for insufficient empirical analysis of scientists proving the efficiency of terrorism, the author made a bold statement about the ineffectiveness of terrorism as an instrument of coercion.
The article extends existing knowledge about the problem. It develops recently appeared thought into political science, where terrorism is considered by many scientists as an effective measure of achieving political aspirations.
The author uses an academic style of righting avoiding formalities. In the article the author use quantitative approach, supplemented by case study. The article is earnestly recommended for academics and students of political sciences. The author gives individual and complicated positions in his work. He uses rather extensive base of sources and literature, to which he refers during his work.
This topic has a lot of possibilities for further development. It seems to be perspective in academic research, but it also needs more extensive analytical work. This proposition leads to the conclusion of necessary to develop this thesis on larger scientific publication. In order to competently approve the thesis of inefficiency of terrorist working, it is necessary to conduct more extensive work on gathering information about terrorist groups in all regions and to conduct an analysis between the declared goals and the results of these groups. This problem is very urgent and promising for future research.
The study of a vital problem not only implies the receipt of new theoretical knowledge. This also means developing a proposal to minimize the negative consequences of the problem being studied. In the context of this topic, this acquires a special meaning. Statement that terrorism is an invalid practice leads to the idea that further elaboration of this thesis will help in the fight against terrorism. The thesis on the ineffectiveness of an application of terrorism to achieve objectives can be used as an effort to take significant steps towards abandoning this strategy.