Conflict, War and Terrorism Chapter Outline

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Chapter 16

Conflict, War and Terrorism

Chapter Outline

  • The Global Context: Conflict in a Changing World

  • Sociological Theories of War

  • Causes of War

  • Terrorism

Chapter Outline

  • Social Problems Associated with Conflict, War, and Terrorism

  • Strategies for Action: In Search of Global Peace

  • Understanding Conflict, War, and Terrorism


  • War, the most violent form of conflict, refers to organized armed violence aimed at a social group in pursuit of an objective.

  • Whether war is just or unjust, defensive or offensive, it involves the most horrendous atrocities known to humankind.

Global Trends in Violent
Conflict, 1946–2004

War and the Development of Civilization

  • War resulted in small groups and villages becoming incorporated into larger political chiefdoms.

  • Centuries of war between chiefdoms culminated in the development of the state.


  • An apparatus of power, a set of institutions—the central government, the armed forces, the regulatory and police agencies—whose most important functions involve the use of force, the control of territory and the maintenance of internal order.

War and Industrialization

  • Industrialization can decrease a society’s propensity for war, but it also increases the potential destructiveness of war because, with industrialization, warfare, technology becomes more sophisticated and lethal.

Annual Costs of Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 2001–2008

What Do You Think?

  • Military, recruitment standards have been lowered (convicted felons and high school dropouts may be recruited), the enlistment age has been raised from 35 to 42, and stop-loss orders have forced soldiers to remain in combat past their contractual obligation.

  • Should the military draft be reinstated?

  • Would you advocate universal military service upon high school graduation?

Cold War

  • The state of military tension and political rivalry that existed between the United States and the former Soviet Union from the 1950s through the late 1980s.

Structural-Functionalist Perspective

  • Gives members a “common cause” and a common enemy.

  • In short term, war increases employment and stimulates economy.

  • Inspires developments that are useful to civilians.

Structural Functionalist View of War

  • Structural functionalists argue that a major function of war is that it produces unity among societal members.

  • Societal members feel a sense of cohesion, and they work together to defeat the enemy.

Dual-use Technologies

  • Defense funded technological innovations with commercial and civilian use.

Conflict Perspective on War

  • War is the result of antagonisms that emerge when two or more groups struggle for control of resources.

  • War benefits corporate, military, and political elites.

Military-Industrial Complex

  • A term used by Dwight D. Eisenhower to connote the close association between the military and defense industries.

Symbolic Interactionist Perspective

  • Meanings and definitions influence attitudes and behaviors regarding conflict and war.

  • Attitudes and behaviors that support war develop in childhood.

  • Most world governments preach peace through strength, rather than strength through peace.


  • The face of patriotism is changing.

  • A recent survey of 2005 college graduates found that 83% defined themselves as patriotic.


  • conflict theory

  • structural functionalism

  • strain theory

  • symbolic interactionism

Answer: A

  • Conflict theory suggests that war benefits the corporate, military, and political elites.

Do you display the flag at home, office, or on your car?

Do you display the flag at home, office, or on your car?

Do you display the flag at home, office, or on your car?

Do you display the flag at home, office, or on your car?

 Causes of War

  • Conflict over Land and Other Natural Resources

  • Conflict over Values and Ideologies

  • Racial and Ethnic Hostilities

  • Defense against Hostile Attacks

  • Revolution

  • Nationalism

Conflict over Values and Ideologies

  • World War II was largely a war over democracy versus fascism.

  • Cold War largely involved conflict over capitalism versus communism.

  • Wars over differing religious beliefs have led to some of the worst episodes of bloodshed in history.

Constructivist Explanations

  • Explanations that emphasize the role of leaders of ethnic groups in stirring up hatred toward others external to one’s group.

Primordial Explanations

  • Explanations that emphasize the existence of “ancient hatreds” rooted in deep psychological or cultural differences between ethnic groups, often involving a history of grievance and victimization, real or imagined, by the enemy group.

Security Dilemma

  • A characteristic of the international state system that gives rise to unstable relations between states.

  • As State A secures its borders and interests, its behavior may decrease the security of other states and cause them to engage in behavior that decrease A’s security.

Free Speech or Commerce?

  • Arizona businessman Dan Frazier wears a version of the t-shirt banned in Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.

  • A judge will decide whether this is a commercial product or a form of free speech protected by the Constitution.


  • Premeditated use, or threatened use, of violence to gain a political or social objective.

  • Transnational terrorism occurs when a terrorist act in one country involves victims, targets, institutions, governments, or citizens of another country.

  • Domestic terrorism is exemplified by the 1995 truck bombing of a nine-story federal office building in Oklahoma City, resulting in 168 deaths and the injury of more than 200 people.


  • A jeep in flames at the entrance of Glasgow’s International Airport, site of a “failed” suicide bombing in June 2007.

  • A suicide note confirmed that the drivers, one a British-born doctor of Iraqi descent, intended to explode the propane fuel bomb in the terminal.

Terrorism and Victims by
Region, 2006

Patterns of Global Terrorism

  • In 2005:

  • There were approximately 14,000 terrorist attacks around the world.

  • About 20,000 people lost their lives as a result of these incidents.

  • There was a 25% increase in the number of incidents and a 40% increase in the number of fatalities compared with 2005.

  • Over 50% of those killed or wounded were Muslims, and the majority lived in Iraq.

Causes of Terrorism

  • A failed or weak state, which is unable to control terrorist operations.

  • Rapid modernization, when, for example, a country’s sudden wealth leads to rapid social change.

  • Extreme ideologies—religious or secular.

  • A history of political violence, civil wars, and revolutions.

Causes of Terrorism

  • Repression by a foreign occupation (i.e., invaders to the inhabitants).

  • Large-scale racial or ethnic discrimination.

  • The presence of a charismatic leader.


  • What are some of the causes or accompanying factors associated with acts of terrorism, with such behaviors as suicide bombings?

  • Extreme poverty.

  • Extreme autocratic rule.

  • Extreme ideological clashes in religious and/ or secular beliefs.

  • All of these choices.

Answer: C

  • Extreme ideological clashes in religious and/ or secular beliefs is associated with acts of terrorism, with such behaviors as suicide bombings.

The Process of Ideological

Prisoner Abuse

  • The prisoner abuses at Guantanamo Bay (Cuba) and Abu Ghraib (Iraq) shocked the nation.

  • Army Pfc. Lynndie England, pictured, was convicted on six counts involving prisoner mistreatment and sentenced to 3 years in prison and given a dishonorable discharge.

Reports of Prisoner Mistreatment at Guantanamo Bay

Reports of Prisoner Mistreatment at Guantanamo Bay

Insurgent Forces

  • An Iraqi insurgent takes aim on U.S. positions in Najaf during battle in January 2006.

  • Although the U.S. Army has superior weapons and training, insurgent forces rely on deep knowledge of urban terrain and count on support from the local population.

Guerrilla Warfare

  • Warfare in which organized groups oppose domestic or foreign governments and their military forces; often involves small groups of individuals who use camouflage and underground tunnels to hide until they are ready to execute a surprise attack.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

  • (WMD) Chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons that have the capacity to kill large numbers of people indiscriminately.

Social Problems of War:
Women and Children

  • Before and during WWII, the Japanese military forced 100,000 to 200,000 women and girls into prostitution as military “comfort women”.

  • Refugee women and female children are vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation.

Child Soldiers

  • A child soldier in Liberia points his gun at a cameraman while carting a teddy bear on his back.

  • Although reliable figures are hard to obtain, the UN estimates that there are about 300,000 child soldiers fighting in wars worldwide.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • Symptoms include recurring nightmares, flashbacks, poor concentration.

  • Associated with family violence, alcoholism, divorce, and suicide.

  • Estimate 30% of male veterans of the Vietnam war have experienced PTSD, and about 15% continue to experience it.

Environmental Degradation

  • Oil smoke from the 650 burning oil wells left in the wake of the Gulf War contains soot, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides, the major components of acid rain, along with a variety of toxic and potentially carcinogenic chemicals and heavy metals.

Nuclear Winter

  • The predicted result of a thermonuclear war whereby thick clouds of radioactive dust and particles would block out vital sunlight, lower temperature in the Northern Hemisphere, and lead to the death of most living things on earth.

Selected Federal U.S. Outlays for 2007

Iraqi Elections

  • On January 30, 2005, millions of Iraqis defied the insurgents and voted in their first free election in half a century.

  • Afghanistan’s first ever parliamentary election took place on September 18, 2005.

Humanitarian Aid

  • A woman in Darfur scoops up grain spilled from bags dropped from a plane by the UN’s World Food Program.

  • The fighting in Darfur makes it very difficult for humanitarian aid agencies to run regular operations to feed, clothe, and shelter civilians.

United Nations Peacekeeping Operations: Summary Data, 2007

United Nations Peacekeeping Operations: Summary Data, 2007


  • The deliberate, systematic, annihilation of an entire nation, people, or ethnic group.


  • A neutral third party facilitates negotiation between representatives or leaders of conflicting groups.


  • A neutral third party listens to evidence and arguments presented by conflicting groups and arrives at a decision or outcome that the two parties agree to accept.

What Do You Think?

  • It is feared that negotiating with terrorists will confer legitimacy on them and encourage other groups to adopt violence to achieve their goals.

  • There seem to be situations in which governments have to negotiate with terrorists to establish peace.

  • Are there situations when it is appropriate to negotiate with terrorists?

  • Do different situations call for different policies?


  • The philosophy of “negotiation rather than confrontation” in reference to relations between the United States and the former Soviet Union; put forth by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s Declaration of Principles in 1972.

Angola’s Civil War

  • Assault rifles and light machine guns prepared for destruction through a U.S. government funded program in Angola.

  • Collected from excombatants and the Angolan army, the weapons are from Angola’s 27-year old civil war that ended in 2002.

Clash of Civilizations

  • A hypothesis that the primary source of conflict in the 21st century has shifted away from social class and economic issues and toward conflict between religious and cultural groups, especially those between large scale civilizations such as the peoples of Western Christianity and Muslim and Orthodox peoples.

Quick Quiz
1. What is the ultimate environmental catastrophe facing the planet?

  • a massive exchange thermonuclear war

  • global warming

  • chemical warfare

  • biological warfare

Answer A

  • The ultimate environmental catastrophe facing the planet is a massive exchange thermonuclear war.

2. Which of the following is an example of domestic terrorism?

  • The bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.

  • The bombing of the USS Cole naval ship in Yemen.

  • bombing of the federal office building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

  • The bombing of Pan-Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Answer: C

  • The bombing of the federal office building in Oklahoma City in 1995 is an example of domestic terrorism.

3. The United States accounts for how much of the world's military spending?

  • one quarter

  • about a third

  • nearly half

  • less than one quarter

Answer: C

  • The United States accounts for nearly half of the world's military spending.

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