State violence – a topic for another day

Hi Dominic,
You write:
Now, most people who feel a sense of injustice obviously combat it in purely peaceful means. The point about terrorism is that the sense of injustice becomes a springboard for mental somersaults in the mind of someone who thinks that indiscriminate violence can create justice.”
A couple of question about this, if I may:
1. Why do you say “indiscriminate violence”?  Would the Woolwich attack not be more acurately described as “discriminate” violence, insofar as the perpetrators appear to have deliberately targeted a UK soldier, as opposed to simply hacking random passers-by to death? 
2. Do you consider the logic encapsulated by the above paragraph to apply equally to states?  Assuming so, does this not raise troubling questions regards western foreign policy?  The US response to the twin towers attack stands out as an obvious example of “terrorism” as per this logic, no?
Look forward to your comments.
Best wishes,
Joe Sucksmith


1.       Indiscriminate violence is a reference to the generally accepted and shorthand way of describing terrorism – ie bomb attacks.

2.       State violence not the point of the piece – that’s a topic for another day by someone more qualified than myself.

Hope that helps

Dominic Casciani
Home Affairs Correspondent, BBC News


Thanks, Dominic.  The radical islamists who have perpetrated crimes on UK soil have, without exception, claimed to be responding to western “state violence” (wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, drone strikes etc.).  How then can we hope to diminish the threat of another Woolwich without critically examining the “violence” perpetrated by (western) states?  The question seems especially relevant given that states are responsible, prima facie, for crimes of far greater magnitude than are sub-state actors, radical Islamist or otherwise.
All the best,


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