Social Conflict Theory Public Policy Term Paper

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" (Feste, 2004)

The work of Crenshaw (1981) makes the suggestion that the occurrence of terrorism is most likely where the masses are passive and:

elite dissatisfaction coincides; when discontent is not generalized or serious enough to provoke the majority of the population to act against the regime, but a small minority without access to the bases of power that would permit overthrow of the government seeks radical change." (Crenshaw, 1981; in Feste, 2004 p. 46)

Generally, an event precipitates the act of terrorism that "snaps the terrorists' patience with the regime" rendering the actions of the government as being an injustice which cannot be tolerated making the terrorist act a decision that becomes acceptable on a moral level. (Crenshaw, 1981; p. 384)


Because al Qaeda is in the process of "building a movement to carry on an ideological struggle"... (Feste, 2004; p.47) it is impossible to direct practices with any type of conflict resolution as neither "neutrality nor objectivity can be located." (Feste, 2004; p.47) Furthermore, there exists between the parties "a great status differential" in that the United States is the only superpower in the world and al Qaeda is a "small, non-entity state" therefore the possibility of any type of negotiation is simply not present. The work of Mayer (2004) informs that what is needed and desired between those caught in such a conflict is: "...voice, vindication and validation: to air opinions and demands, rather than engage in collaborative dialogue with their enemy; and respect for their point-of-view, a kind of righteous recognition that justifies their prior action." (p. 12-13; cited in Feste, 2004; p. 47)


In order to ensure the ending of terrorism "a basic decision in American policy and the intervention strategy that accompanies it, would need to be faced..." (Feste, 2004) This would include addressing the grievance issues and governance: " societies experiencing terrorism in order to reduce the cause for violence or need for leadership protection and changing the conditions that allow terrorist to acquire so much power..." Or finally to bring about a change in the environment on the inside of the United States which would require a re-examination of the "...culture, needs and life comforts of its citizens and revising America's role in the post Cold War international system in order to sufficiently readjust stakes of the conflicts for all sides." (Feste, 2004; p.48)


Present U.S. policy both in the United States and throughout the Middle East is serving to further drive the needs and desires of terrorist groups to use acts of violence for declaring themselves, their beliefs and for seeking validation to their causes which are derived from U.S. policy and strategies that are not effective whatsoever in addressing the root causes of terrorism or in ending terrorist activity.


Crenshaw, Martha "The Causes of Terrorism" Comparative Politics. Vol. 13 No. 4 (July, 1981) pp. 379-399.

Crenshaw, Martha "Why America? The Globalization of Civil War" in Current History. December, 2001. pp. 425-432.

Feste, Karen a. (2004) Intervention and Terrorism Conflict: Theory, Strategy and Resolution. Paper prepared for delivery at the Fifth Pan-European Conference on International Relations, the Hague, the Netherlands. September 9-11, 2004. Online available at

Feste, Karen a. "International Intervention and Global Terrorism: 21st Century Bond?" Paper presented at the Second Annual Hawaii International Conference in Social Sciences, Honolulu, June 12-15, 2003b.

Feste, Karen a. Intervention: Shaping the Global Order. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. 2003a.

Mayer, Bernard. "Beyond Neutrality." July, 2004. Online available at:


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