Globalization, Terrorism and the State

Sertif Demir, Ali Bilgin Varlık
2.960 624


The main discussion point of this article is to explore the cause-effect relation between the weakening of nation state and the intensification of global terrorism by the influence of globalization. The main thesis of the article is that the malign effects of globalization have considerably weakened nation states or dragged them into a situation in which the security and stability would no longer be sustained as desired. Global terrorism can stem from the adverse effects of globalization, imbalance of power, disparity of players, and power vacuum. Failed states, separatist minorities and radicals use terrorism as warfare in order to counterbalance the power gap or to consolidate their authority. In order to verify/nullify the main thesis, we sought answers for three main issues: consequences of globalization; influence of globalization on terrorism; and lessons learned from terrorism. Our study has come to a conclusion that the most reliable way to cope with the challenges of the new form of terrorism is to strengthen the nation state concept in democratic, laic, social and legal terms


Globalization, nation state, terrorism, global terrorism

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David Held and Anthony McGrew, “The Great Globalization Debate: An Introduction”, in The Global Transformations Reader, D.Held and A.McGrew (Eds) (Malden USA: Polity Press, 2000), 1-45.

For example, supporters of globalization consider it as the ultimate reach of civilization while the opponents define globalization as the new form of capitalism and imperialism. Some put more emphasis on information flow and define emergent global economy and culture as a "network society" grounded in new communications and information technology (See, Manuel Castells, The Rise of the Network Society (Oxford: Blackwell, 2010). Some frames globalization with its economic, cultural and political dimensions (See, Stanley Hoffmann, “The Clash of Globalizations”, Foreign Affairs (July/August, 2002), 107). Some put more values on scientific and technological characteristics of globalization. Some see globalization merely as universalization of consumerism (See, Leslie Sklair, The Transnational Capitalist Class (Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers, 2001) while others stress on “the clash of civilizations” (See, Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Touchstone Books, 1996).

As one of the most famous writers of this approach, (Thomas L. Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree (USA: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999), 1-27) proposes that globalization is an international system, which replaced the old Cold War system, but he says hardly few about historical development of globalization. Although he has developed his theory and added historical background in his study “The World is Flat” (The World is Flat: A Brief History of The Twenty-First Century (USA: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2005), 19), this helped little to his conceptual framework and less persuasion for severe criticism on his theory.

Hardt and Negri (Empire, (London: Rvard University Press, 2000) present globalization as a complex process that involves a multidimensional mixture of expansions of the global economy and capitalist market system, new technologies and media, expanded judicial and legal modes of governance, and emergent modes of power, sovereignty, and resistance (Quoted from Douglas Kellner, Globalization, Terrorism, and Democracy: 9/11 and its Aftermath, (2002), 10. accessed: March 05, 2012),

Ali Bilgin Varlık, Küreselleşme ve Küreselleşmenin Orta Doğu’ya Etkileri (Globalization and Its Effects on the Middle East) (Ankara University, Faculty of Political Sciences, Unissued Phd Thesis, 2009), 19.

Although classification of ideas contains all forms of inefficiencies of being holistic, it makes easy to understand. For this reason the classification we suggested here is broader than the commonly used “against - for” type. The classification made by Held and McGrew (The Global Transformations Reader (Malden USA: Polity Press, 2000), 1-45.) is also acceptable but not satisfactory enough to conceptualize the subject. The classification could be summarized as follows: 1) The Hyperglobalists 2) Skeptics 3) Transformationalist.

Jean Baudrillard, Symbolic Exchange and Death (London: Sage, 2006), 1-3.

Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and The Last Man (New York: Free Press, 1992), xx-xxi.

See, Duncan Bell S.A., “History and Globalization: Reflections on Temporality”, International Affairs 79/4 (2003): 801.

According to Hirst and Thompson (Globalization in Question: The International Economy and the Possibilities of Governance, (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000), 9), during the 1870-1914 Belle Époque economic era the world economy was almost totally globalized. Today we are just about to reach the level of those days’ economic openness. For example, current French economy has not reached yet to the economic openness level of 1913 which had the ratio of 35.4 %. The situation is the same for today’s huge economies like Germany and Japan. Starting from 1970, although world economy has enormously grown, there has occurred a considerable gap between GDP’s and the trade level.

Furkan Y. Şen, Globalleşme Sürecinde Milliyetçilik Trendleri ve Ulus-Devlet (Ankara: Yargı Yayınevi, 2004), 181.

See, Kevin Robins and Frank Webster, Times of the Technoculture (London and New York: Routledge, 1999), 4, 5.

See, Immanuel Wallerstein, The End of the World As We Know It: Social Science for the Twenty-first Century (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999). Also see, Immanuel Wallerstein, World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction (USA, Duke University Press 2005).

N.Kenneth Waltz, “Globalization and American Power”, The National Interest, (Spring 2000), 47-49, accessed Jan 10, 2011 (as of April 01, 2012 no longer available). is2000Spring/ai61299041.

David Held, McGrew Anthony, Goldblatt David and Perraton Jonathan “Rethinking Globalization”, in Global Transformations Reader, D.Held and A.McGrew (eds.) (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000), 54-61.

Robert O. Keohane and Joseph S. Nye, “Power and Interdependence”, Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, The Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, 15/4 (1973): 160.

Varlık, “Küreselleşme”, 121.

E. Joseph Stiglitz, Globalization and Its Discontents (USA W.W: Norton & Company, 2002), 9.

William I. Robinson, Capitalist Globalization and the Transnationalisation of the State, Historical Materialism and Globalization in M. Rupert&H. Smith (Eds), (London: Routledge, 2002), 210; Ray Kiely, “The Changing Face of Anti-Globalization Politics: Two (and a Half) Tales of Globalization and Anti-Globalization”, Globalizations II/ 1 (May 2005): 135.

William I. Robinson, “Social Theory and Globalization: The Rise of the Transnational State”, Theory and Society 30 (2001): 182–191; Ray Kiely, “The Changing Face of Anti-Globalization Politics: Two (and a Half) Tales of Globalization and Anti-Globalization”, Globalizations II/1 (2005): 135.

Jerry Kloby, Inequality, Power, and Development: Issues in Political Sociology (New York: Humanity Books, 2004), 165.

Moving from the idea that globalization has weakened the nation state, Samir Amin (Capitalism in the Age of Globalization: The Management of Contemporary Society, (London and New York: Zed Books, 1997), 15) has defined globalization as “Imperial of Chaos”.

Alan Miller, “Globalization, Terror, and Ethics: A Human Rights Perspective?”, Globalizations VI/1 (2009): 149.

Jamal R. Nassar, Globalization and Terror: The Migration of Dreams and Nightmares, (Lanham: MD, Rowman & Littlefield, 2005): 18.

Michael Waizer, Arguing About War, (USA:Yale University Press, 2004), 134.

Alan M. Dershowitz, Why Terrorism Works: Understanding the Threat, Responding to the Challenge (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002), 4.

Alexander Spencer, “Questioning the Concept of ‘New Terrorism”, Peace Conflict & Development, VIII/1 (2006), 1-33,

Leonard Weinberg, Pedahzur Ami and Hirsch-Hoefler Sivan, “The Challenges of Conceptualizing Terrorism” Terrorism and Political Violence XVI/4 (2004), 786.

Alexander Spencer, “Questioning the Concept of ‘New Terrorism”, 3 quoted from Leonard Weinberg et. al., “The Challenges of Conceptualizing Terrorism”, 786.

See, Roger T. Ames, Sun-Tzu: The Art of Warfare, Robert G. Henricks (ed.), (New York: Ballantione Books, 1993). and Samuel B. Griffith, Sun-Tzu: The Art of War ( London and New York: Oxford University, 1971).

The term “Market State” implies that the nation-state cannot successfully cope with contemporary challenges so we are entering the transition from one constitutional order to another –from nation state to the market state (Philip Bobbitt, Terror and Consent: The Wars for the Twenty-First Century (New York: Anchor Books, 2009), 86.

Giovanni Arrighi, The Long Twentieth Century (London and New York: Verso, 1994), 70-79.

The similar research was conducted by Alexander Spencer op. cit. using the same source (with unlike data) but reaching different conclusion. He clearly mentioned that when examining the data on international terrorism incidents, one finds that although the number of terrorist incidents has generally declined from the mid-1980s, the number of fatalities per incident has increased since the 1980s. Considering that ‘new terrorism’ supposed to have started in the 1990s, this increase of fatalities might not be directly linked to the phenomenon of ‘new terrorism’ (Isabelle Duyvesteyn, “How New Is the New Terrorism?”, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism XVII/5 (2004):447-448).

Decision point: A point in space and time, identified during the planning process, where it is anticipated that the commander must make a decision concerning a specific course of action (APP-6: NATO Glossary of Terms and Definitions, Bruselles, NATO Standardization Agency (NSA), (2010): 2-d-2).

The first sign of the new form of terrorism was Alfres P.Murrah’s Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. With its 168 victims, this was by far the deadliest terrorist attack in American history until September 11, 2001 [Arnaud Blin, “The United States Confronting Terrorism”, in The History of Terrorism: From Antiquity to AL Qaeda, Gerad Chaliand and Arnaud Blind (edts.) (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2007), 407].

Stuart Elden, Terror and Territory: The Spatial Extent of Sovereignty (USA, University of Minnesota Press, 2009), Xvii.

Ibid, 2.

O’Neill classifies public support as active and passive, and external support as moral, political, material, and sanctuary. (Bard O’Neill, Insurgency and Terrorism: From Revolution to Apocalypse, (Washington D.C.: Potomac Books, 2005), 94, 142).

Walter Laqueur, The Age of Terrorism (Boston: Little, Brown, 1987), 91.

Religiously motivated terrorist organizations are becoming more common. According to the RAND-St Andrews University Chronology of International Terrorism, in 1968 none of the identified international terrorist organizations could be classified as ‘religious’; in 1980, in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution, there were two (out of sixty-four), and that number had expanded to twenty-five (out of fifty-eight) by 1995 (Richard Whelan, Al-Qaedaism: the Threat to Islam, the Threat to the World (Dublin: Ashfield Press, 2005), 23.

Jonathan R. White, Terrorism and Homeland Security. (Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom, United States: Wadsworth Press, 2009), 275.

Kellner, “Globalization, Terrorism, and Democracy”, 16.

Ibid, 23.

Ian Ward, Law, Text, Terror (Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 175.

JP 3-24: Counter Insurgency Operations, USA, Joint Chief of Staff (2009), III-12.

It is attributed that the term “fish out of water” as a strategy on counter-insurgency was first used by Mao Zedong (or Tse-tung), who resembles fish to guerrilla and water to the people, in his study on guerrilla warfare “On the Protracted War”.

Alexander Spencer, “Questioning the Concept of ‘New Terrorism”, 1-33.

In order to end terrorism, Audrey Kurth Cronin (How Terrorism Ends: Understanding the Decline and Demise of Terrorist Campaigns, (U.K: Princeton University Press, 2009), 9) suggest broader strategy which covers six measures: 1) Capture or killing the group’s leader 2) Entry of the group into a legitimate political process 3) Achievement of the group’s aims 4) Implosion or loss of the group’s public support 5) Defeat and elimination by brute force 6) Transition from terrorism into other forms of violence. Other studies on defeating terrorism include similar strategies. The common denominator of these strategies is cutting public support to terrorism.

Center of Gravity: Characteristics, capabilities or localities from which a nation, an alliance, a military force or other grouping derives its freedom of action, physical strength or will to fight (APP-6, 2-c-3)

Ward, “Law, Text, Terror”, 179.

Many varieties and forms of secularization have set in motion predominantly because of different historical processes (Elizabeth Shakman HURD, The Politics of Secularism in International Relations (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008), 15).

Ward, “Law, Text, Terror”, 175.

Michael Ignatieff, The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2004), 1-9.