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Originally posted by grad_student
Certainly I don't mind healthy debate.
The reasons that our modern democratic republic form of government tied in with a capitalist free market economy is superior are the following:
1. We are not perfect, however, we can eliminate corruption whereas communist and fascist systems cannot.
2. Free-market economy has proved itself to be the best for everyone. Competition improves quality. The market system existed even before our country did, and free trade with the world is healthy. Much better to be trading tea and computer chips than it is to trade bullets in my opinion.
3. Our country exists on personal freedoms. We will always be a step above the socialist systems because of the freedom of choice. It is up to the individual to make their decisions about what they want to do, what kind of toilet paper they use, who they marry, how many kids they have, where they want to go to school, what they do with their income.
The only way we could possibly improve upon our current ideology is to make it more Libertarian, with minimal government and more freedom of choice.
Democracy vs. Monarchy
Ah I omitted one point, which is Monarchy.
There's nothing better than a Good King. However, there is nothing worse than a Bad King. And the change of power from one King to another has historically been rather violent. Ultimate power corrupts ultimately.
The term "terrorism" comes from the French 18th century word terrorisme based on the Latin language verbs terrere (to frighten) and deterrere (to frighten from). It dates to 1795, and originally used to describe the actions of the Jacobins in their rule of post-Revolutionary France, the so-called "Reign of Terror". The Jacobins are even said to have coined the term "terrorists" to refer to themselves, although that is not certain. Note that the method employed was in most cases simply the arrest, and sometimes execution, of opponents. Terrorism and terror therefore originally referred to methods employed by regimes to control their own populations through fear, a tactic seen again in many totalitarian regimes, such as Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. The terms did not refer to bomb attacks, but rather to what is now called a police state. The current use of the term state terrorism, and the use of the term "terrorist", have much broader meanings.
Many definitions of terrorism exist. Definitions are produced by the media, politicians, other political actors such as think-tanks, by academics, but above all by government. Law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies formulated most of these official definitions. Official definitions have the most impact, because they determine anti-terrorism policy. Most of them outline primary criteria: the target, objective, motive, perpetrator, and legitimacy or legality of the act.
Violence – According to Walter Laqueur of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, "the only general characteristic [of terrorism] generally agreed upon is that terrorism involves violence and the threat of violence". However, the criterion of violence alone does not produce a useful definition, as it includes many acts not usually considered terrorism: war, riot, organized crime, or even a simple assault. This criterion excludes cyberterrorism and economic sanctions.
Target – It is commonly held that the distinctive nature of terrorism lies in its deliberate and specific selection of civilians as targets. Furthermore, an act is more likely to be considered terrorism if it targets a general populace than if it purposefully targets a specific individual or group, most often (but not exclusively) noncombatants to inspire terror or to cause collateral damage.
This criterion excludes conventional warfare in accordance with the laws of war, any attacks on military targets (such as the bombing of the USS Cole), guerrilla warfare and revolution when limited to military targets, and assassination of a head of state or other leader of comparable stature (such as Martin Luther King, Jr.).
This criterion may also be held to exclude actions where the attackers make at least some attempt to reduce civilian casualties. For example, the Zionist organization Irgun preceded many, though not all, of its attacks (notably the 1946 King David Hotel bombing) with warnings to the press, the target, or the authorities of the British Mandate of Palestine. They were nevertheless considered to be terrorists by the British. The Basque ETA group is also known for pre-emptive warnings. By contrast, groups who use suicide bombing attacks against civilians (such as Hamas, al-Qaida and the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades) rely on the element of surprise in order to maximize casualties, and therefore never issue warnings.
Objective – As the name implies, terrorism is understood as an attempt to provoke fear and intimidation. Hence, terrorist acts are designed and intended to attract wide publicity and cause public shock, outrage, and/or fear. The intent may be to provoke disproportionate reactions from states.
This criterion excludes the Holocaust and other cases of genocide, which are undertaken to exterminate rather than to intimidate, and which are usually hidden rather than publicized. Also, any violence against targets unlikely to attract public notice and having little effect on the populace at large.
Motive – These acts are intended to achieve political or religious goals, not for personal gain. For example, a gang of bank robbers who kill a bank manager, blow up his vault and escape with the contents would normally not be classed as terrorists, because their motive was profit. However, if a gang were to execute the same assault with the intent of causing a crisis in public confidence in the banking system, followed by a run on the banks and a subsequent destabilization of the economy, then the gang would be classed as terrorists. This criterion excludes organized crime (the Mafia, etc.)
Perpetrator – Some hold that a legitimate government cannot, by definition, commit terrorism of any kind. In this view, a state can commit war crimes or crimes against humanity, but these actions are distinct from terrorism.
This criterion excludes warfare between states, government repression of its own civilians, the Holocaust, the Hiroshima bombing, and possibly even the Lockerbie bombing.
Legitimacy – Many definitions include a proviso that the action must be "unlawful" or "illegitimate". This is by far the least objective of the criteria, in the absence of any objective interpreter of international law. For example, the laws of war generally exclude the deliberate targeting of civilians, yet in World War II it is unquestioned that acts such as the bombing of Hiroshima or Dresden were carried out with the knowledge that civilian casualties would greatly exceed military ones. Whether the actions were legally justified, either in self-defense or on the grounds that they actually minimised civilian suffering by bringing the war to an earlier end, is not a question that can be objectively determined.
No definition of terrorism has been accepted as authoritative by the United Nations. However, the "academic consensus definition", written by terrorism expert A.P. Schmid and widely used by social scientists, defines terrorism as follows:
Terrorism is an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-) clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons, whereby — in contrast to assassination — the direct targets of violence are not the main targets. The immediate human victims of violence are generally chosen randomly (targets of opportunity) or selectively (representative or symbolic targets) from a target population, and serve as message generators. Threat- and violence-based communication processes between terrorist (organization), (imperilled) victims, and main targets are used to manipulate the main target (audience(s)), turning it into a target of terror, a target of demands, or a target of attention, depending on whether intimidation, coercion, or propaganda is primarily sought." 
Schmid has also proposed a short legal definition of terrorism to the UN, namely that an act of terrorism should be defined as "the peacetime equivalent of a war crime". This brings the question of legitimacy to the front.
Definitions of terrorism are not static: like all politicised concepts they are subject to historical evolution. In response to the 2001 attacks, western politicians have placed terrorism in the context of a global struggle against democracy itself. That implies that the emphasis in definition should lay on the nature of a country's government, rather the specific targets or methods. It also implies that 'coercion' is no longer relevant to the definition - the terrorists don't want the government to do anything specific, they want it to disappear. The European Union includes the aim of "destabilising or destroying the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country" in its 2004 definition of terrorism.  The idea of a 'war against democracy' is related to the theory of the Clash of Civilisations, and they are sometimes quoted together.
Terrorists often seek to demoralize and paralyze their enemy with fear, using their acts as a form of blackmail to apply pressure on governments to achieve goals the terrorists could not achieve by other means.
Terrorism relies heavily on surprise. Terrorist attacks can trigger sudden transitions into conflict or war. Frequently, after a terrorist attack, a number of unassociated groups may claim responsibility for the action; this may be considered "free publicity" for the organization's aims or plans. Because of its anonymous and sometimes self-sacrificial nature, it is not uncommon for the reasons behind the terrorist action to remain unknown or murky for a considerable period.
Where terrorism occurs in the context of open warfare or insurgency, its perpetrators may shelter behind a section of the local population. Examples include the Intifada on Israeli-occupied territory, and the occupation of Iraq. This population, which is usually ethnically distinct from the counter-terrorist forces, is either sympathetic to their cause, indifferent, or under duress. The 'counter-terror' forces (on their own definition, that is) are often prevented from retaliating by the prospect of high civilian casualties. Even small US-Army units in Iraq may have enough firepower to destroy an entire village, but if they did that in retaliation for every attack, they would kill most of the rural population. Civilian casualties always damage the public image of the state responsible, and may generate further sympathy for the terrorist cause. This is a recurring dilemma in such insurgencies. Not all terror campaigns take place in an insurgency context, but the one-off urban attacks now typical of radical Islamist terrorism in the West are carried out by people from a specific religious context. Counter-terror policy directed at one section of the population may not result in direct civilian casualties, but has long-term political effects, which may be equally counterproductive.
Terrorist groups sometimes arrange for secondary devices to detonate at a slightly later time in order to kill emergency-response personnel attempting to attend to the dead and wounded. Repeated or suspected use of secondary devices can also delay emergency response out of concern that such devices may exist. Examples include a (failed) cyanide-gas device that was meant to explode shortly after the February 26, 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and a second car bomb that detonated 20 minutes after the December 1, 2001 Ben Yehuda bombing by Hamas in Jerusalem.
In the absence of state funding, terrorists often rely on organized crime to fund their activities. This can include kidnapping, drug trafficking, or robbery. But terrorists have also found many more sources of revenue. Osama bin Laden, for example, invested millions in terrorism that his family made in the construction industry building luxury mansions for Saudi Arabia's oil-millionaires. The diamond industry emerged early in the twenty-first century as an important new source of funding for terrorism, and Islamist terrorist groups in particular have been very effective at procuring funding through a system of charitable contributions. Overlap with smuggling organizations has been discussed in the United States.
Guerrilla warfare is sometimes confused with terrorism, in that a relatively small force attempts to achieve large goals by using organized acts of directed violence against a larger force. But in contrast to terrorism, these acts are almost always against military targets, and civilian targets are minimized in an attempt to increase public support. For this reason, guerrilla tactics are generally considered military strategy rather than terrorism, although both terrorism and guerrilla warfare could be considered forms of asymmetric warfare.
It's not enough to judge the success of a society on the number of years it has existed. One must additionally consider the morale of the people, the success of industry, the success of the economy, major advances in science and technology, the health of the entertainment industry, and the ability of people to make their own free choices about what they want to do with their lives.
Originally posted by jillski
can anyone give an (unbiased) account of why terrorism is occuring?
Originally posted by dom
again with the American war of independence which had aspects of terrorism to begin with.