Chapter 29 Discussion Question Pointers

End of Chapter Question Pointers

Chapter 29 – The End of Terrorist Campaigns

Audrey Kurth Cronin

  1. Consider a terrorist group that you know about or are interested in. Which of these six pathways is most likely to lead to its demise?
  2. This chapter argues that terrorist campaigns always end. When looking at the history of terrorist campaigns we can identify six classic patterns that reappear across hundreds of cases, including capturing or killing the leader, negotiations, achievement of the objective, failure, state repression, and reorientation to another type of violence.

    If you do not know what terrorist group to choose, you may want to visit the START website to identify an organization to focus on.

  3. Do you think current counterterrorism policy is effectively driving that terrorist group towards its end?
  4. This essay question is related to the previous one. Once you had worked out what sort of patterns your terrorist belongs to, try to come up with an effective response. The most effective way to fight a terrorist group is to determine which of these patterns best fit a group, then build a strategy to nudge it in that direction.

    Without that kind of long-term thinking, counterterrorism gets caught in the action-reaction dynamic of terrorist campaigns, which is intentionally designed to anger policy makers, manipulate state behaviour, shock or inspire audiences, and draw strength to a group.  

  5. What kinds of counterterrorism mistakes extend the lives of terrorist groups?
  6. This piece has argued that reactive, tactical counterterrorism prolongs the struggle and extends terrorist campaigns, sweeping outraged policymakers and their publics along with it.  Understanding how terrorism ends is the best way, at any stage in a terrorist campaign, to craft effective counterterrorism policy, and to win.

  7. How are new forms of communications technology such as live-streaming or social media affecting the lifespans of terrorist groups?
  8. This question asks you to consider how social media is affecting the lifespan of terrorist organizations. You could compare and contrast a group that uses new social media with one from the previous century and assess the similarities and differences.

  9. When an individual engages in terrorism because he or she is “inspired” by a group but has no logistical connection to it, does this make it more difficult to end a campaign?
  10. This question asks you to consider the role of charismatic individuals but also the role of social media in making radicalization possible. Critically examine the end of terrorist campaigns with the apparent surge of lone wolf terrorism. It may also be interesting to consult other chapters in this textbook that deal with both cognitive and behavioural radicalization (Brooke, Koehler, etc.)

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