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The Connection Between Globalisation and Terrorism

There are numerous variables that have the potential to come into effect when one considers the nexus between globalization and terrorism. Some experts have argued that globalization is simple interdependence on steroids; that is its in essence a trend that “has widened the effective reach of multinational business, enabling smaller firms as well as larger multinationals to market across borders” (National Intelligence Council, p.31), and that therefore as a result it brings “heretofore non-traded services into the international arena” (p.31). Such an expansion of products on the international market does have side effects though.

One of those side effects is the emergence of an international political economy wherein two distinct groups of nation-states emerge. The first set is composed of advanced industrialized states who have “benefited and are now in a position to weigh in [and] will seek more power in international bodies and greater influence [over] the rules of the game” (p.33). Some examples of such states are the United States, the UK, Canada, and France. These states have the industrial infrastructure necessary to not only survive, but excel in such a commercial atmosphere by providing goods to less developed countries (LDCs) who consume them. The other group is composed of states that aren’t fully industrialized and able to compete, either due to the developed nations using them as source of raw materials, because their industries are underdeveloped, or because western multi-national corporations (MNCs) own and operate this technology for the benefit of the corporation, not the nation-state that the technology is based within. Yet, where does terrorism enter into the equation?

Terrorism has been described before as a weapon that the weak used against the strong. Whether it is from states on the lower end of the balance of power, or non-state entities such as al-Qaeda, Hamas, or Hizballah, globalization plays a key role in providing motivation to the causes of those sources of terrorism. The reasons for this are numerous. To begin with, terrorist actions have been motivated by LDCs lack of success in the international marketplace. In an international system where the developed countries make and break the rules, the LDCs bear the brunt of this type of decision-making. This creates a situation where those that perpetrate terrorism (be it a state or a non-state group) may be motivated by the inability to find success in the international commercial arena (or even success locally). This lack of success may create an inability to provide for oneself or one’s family, thus creating a need to place blame upon some external entity. Violence towards the entity may be one way that such states or individuals relieve that pent-up frustration.

Another potential linkage between globalization and terrorism is the fact that some terrorist elements perceive globalization as harmful to them and to their communities culturally. This belief derives from new Western products that influence the way the local people behave.  Indeed, some of the root causes for some terrorist attacks against western targets is the idea that some believe that globalization is a corrupting influence. Finally, one interesting circumstance that concerns terrorism in relation to globalization is the idea that those same groups that deride the western influence imported along with globalization use its products for their organization’s causes (such as the Internet). In this sense they despise the West for its values and cultures, but not for the goods and services that the West provides which help them further their terrorist activities.

Given these elements and the many others this post has not discussed, the query then is not whether there are connecting linkages between the effect of globalization and terrorism, but what are the sociological solutions to this problem? For example, if provided with an opportunity to provide for one’s family, would that individual choose to be part of a terrorist organization, or would they choose to end their affiliation with that terrorist group?

References

National Intelligence Council, “Mapping the Global Future 2020”, at http://www.dni.gov/nic/NIC_2020_project.html*Public Site Scan only.

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About jakeeyremdy

A recent graduate from Norwich University with his Master of Arts in Diplomacy, Jake discusses a wide variety of topics centrally related to international diplomacy, international law, international terrorism studies, and other such topics

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