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The Difference Between Guerilla Warfare and Terrorism Essay

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Michael Walzer argues that there is an important moral difference between guerilla warfare and terrorism in his just war theory. The war convention prohibits combatants from intentionally killing civilians and imposing foreseeable harm on noncombatants that are disproportionate to a military end, thus the jus in bello criteria of proportionality and discrimination are crucial for assessing whether or not a military action is just and morally acceptable. Walzer argues that it is most preferable that civilians have a right that “due care” is taken by combatants to avoid imposing unnecessary and inappropriate risks of harm and death upon them.[1] This claim about civilian rights and noncombatant immunity works to impose restrictions and prohibitions on certain military tactics and strategies in an effort to prevent military and political leaders from weighing victory over concern for human rights to life and liberty. Walzer distinguishes between guerilla warfare and terrorism, arguing that the latter’s conduct is not justified according to the established rules of war. While guerilla warfare and terrorism share similarities with respect to the foreseeable killing of noncombatants, terrorism is never justified firstly because of the random nature of its targets. Second, the fact that terrorism is a useful tactic for avoiding engagement with an enemy’s military makes it far more dangerous for civilians than guerilla warfare. Finally, terrorism’s lack of moral limitations and restrictions on killing make it rather difficult for any compromise or reconciliation to be possible.
      While the element of surprise is one of the key tactics employed in both guerilla warfare and terrorism, it is the latter’s employment of this tactic that Walzer takes issue with. As he states that terrorism’s purpose is to “destroy the morale of a nation or a class, to undercut its solidarity; its method is the random murder of innocent people”[2], it is clear that the deliberate targeting...

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The Difference Between Guerilla Warfare and Terrorism. Anti Essays. Retrieved September 25, 2017, from the World Wide Web: http://www.antiessays.com/free-essays/The-Difference-Between-Guerilla-Warfare-And-602586.html