Understanding Western State Terrorism

Authored by: Ruth Blakeley , Sam Raphael

Routledge Handbook of Critical Terrorism Studies

Print publication date:  April  2016
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415743761
eBook ISBN: 9781315813462
Adobe ISBN: 9781317801627


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Throughout history, a significant proportion of state violence has been used to coerce populations into complying with the agendas of political and economic elites by using such violence to instil fear in an audience beyond the direct victim. State violence of this kind is intended to achieve certain political objectives, particularly curtailing political dissent. This is state terrorism. As we have argued elsewhere (Blakeley 2009a; Raphael 2009b), the academic literature on terrorism pays relatively little attention to terrorism perpetrated by states. This is the case even though state terrorism results in far more deaths than non-state terrorism: an estimated 170–200 million deaths were caused by state-instigated mass murder, forcible starvations, and genocide in the twentieth century (Rummel 2011), while in the last two decades of the twentieth century alone, 300,000 people were “disappeared” by state agents worldwide (Sluka 2000).

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