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Note: This is a beta version of the course. We will move to the final version (including graphics and discussion questions) if we see there is sufficient interest.

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Lesson 1-2 Today’s Threat

Many areas of the world are experiencing great political, economic, and social unrest. The reasons for this unrest can be seen in conflicts with neighboring states, internal strife, dissatisfaction with governments in power, unconstrained population growth, declining resources, and ethnic and religious hatreds. This unrest has spawned numerous groups that lack the means to have their grievances solved by their own governments through the normal political processes. Sometimes these groups resort to terrorism to achieve their aims. Generally, these aims stem from political ideology, nationalism, religion or special interests.

Over the past 20 years, terrorists have committed extremely violent acts for alleged political or religious reasons. Political ideology ranges from the far left to the far right. For example, the far left can consist of groups such as Marxists and Leninists who propose a revolution of workers led by a revolutionary elite. On the far right, are dictatorships that typically believe in a merging of state and business leadership.

Nationalism is the devotion to the interests or culture of a group of people or a nation. Typically, nationalists share a common ethnic background and wish to establish or regain a homeland.

Religious extremists often reject the authority of secular governments and view legal systems that are not based on their religious beliefs as illegitimate. They often view modernization efforts as corrupting influences on traditional culture.

Special interest groups include people on the radical fringe of many legitimate causes such as antiabortion views, animal rights, radical environmentalism. These groups believe that violence is morally justifiable to achieve their goals.

 

David L. Heiserman, Editor

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Revised: June 06, 2015