chapter  16
10 Pages

Decisions to use terrorism: Psychological constraints on instrumental reasoning: Martha Crenshaw


Terrorism is often considered the result of a strategic choice based on instrumental reasoning (Crenshaw 1990; DeNardo 1985). In this perspective, terrorism is analyzed as a form of political violence designed to affect the attitudes of specifi c audiences whose reactions determine political outcomes. Terrorism is interpreted as a calculated course of action, chosen from a range of alternatives according to a ranked set of values. The effi cacy of terrorism as a means of political infl uence is assumed to be the primary criterion of choice. Decision makers in the organizations that use terrorism are supposed to rely on explicit strategic conceptions to guide group behavior. These conceptions then become the focus of analysis. To explain a particular terrorist action, one asks what strategic purpose it was meant to accomplish.