Terrorism as defined by the Oxford dictionary is “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims” has been used to advance political aims of not just the recent Islamic Jihadists, but also of far left /right political organisations, as well as independence movements around the globe. The impacts of said terrorist acts throughout time have left many innocents dead, whether we speak of 9/11, the Paris shootings in 2015 or the constant terror attacks in nations such as Afghanistan.
One must understand that terrorism has an impact that goes far deeper than what the average person may initially sense. While many are consumed with grief, understandably so, terrorist acts have a devastating effect on the global political economy. An example of this was the Paris shootings in 2015. Paris saw a massive drop in tourism, “In the Paris area alone, tourism revenue is expected to plunge by 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion) this year.” (Doggett and Dolmadjian, 2016). We see that with each terrorist act carried out, particularly in the western world, but also nations such as Tunisia and Turkey, tourism drops immediately after. Whether we speak of Barcelona, London or Paris, all cities suffered in the tourist industry. This may cost millions if not billions to the state that may rely partly on tourism, on top of the initial cost of having to repair damaged areas, investigate potential connections and so on. This includes private businesses, however big or small that rely on tourism. These problems can then impact labour, as the tourism sector shrinks, so does employment. The only employment increase would be perhaps in the defence sector, but this does not make a profit overall, rather, the state must spend more money. To make matters worse, large cities tend to have a larger minority presence, taking into consideration these attacks on European soil, the terrorists were Muslim. This marginalises other Muslims and gives rise to more discrimination, as we saw after most terrorist attacks “Islamophobic hate crimes jumped five-fold in the wake of the London Bridge terror attack, new figures show.” (Batchelor, 2017) This divides the population and increases inequality between natives and those seen as foreigners, which in turn will give rise to more radicalisation, potentially on both sides. The problem therefore is made worse.
This is not the only problem however, states tend to change policy as well, which may impact the economy even further. The American response to 9/11 as we all know was to declare war on terrorism. This declaration of war on something that is not a straightforward matter cost the Americans trillions as they used the military to combat this threat. “The ‘War on Terror’ has cost US taxpayers at least $1.46 trillion since September 11, 2001, the Department of Defence’s cost of war report has revealed.” (RT International, 2017) The impact of this massive amount of spending is still felt today, and scrutinised as it did very little to curb actual terrorist threats. European reactions were similar in nature, but to a much lesser extent. What we saw with this war on terror was an incredible waste of money. This shift in policy meant that funding that could have gone to education, development, healthcare and other programmes that may have had an impact on reducing inequality, unemployment and poverty instead went to the military, which has no economic benefit, apart from perhaps increasing employment as long as the war lasts.
Some go further and argue that many of the conflicts in the middle east specifically were caused by neo-liberal policy makers. “But, then, how do you get oil prices to go up in a ‘world awash with oil,’ as the Economist of London put it? The answer is cruel but simple: conflict in the Middle East.” ( Bichler, Shimshon; Nitzan, Jonathan) But then again, why would the Americans spend over a trillion dollars to protect oil prices? They do after all have their own oil reserves and spending so much without profit is quite obviously a waste of resources. So was it simply a mistake of the policy makers to push for war in hope of economic profit? Or were the Americans truly attempting to destroy terrorism that they saw as a threat to their national security?
(Sabir Nazar 2013)
The impacts of terrorism are not just felt in the western world however. Terrorist acts in nations such as Nigeria, Afghanistan and even certain areas of Pakistan and India have a direct impact on the development of said areas. Certain regions that must be militarised to protect civilians and counter terrorists then have less money to improve the well being of people which at times is one of the causes of terrorism in the first place. (News.bbc.co.uk, 2002)
Overall, terrorism is a major problem in the world. Even if it doesn’t impact all directly, it will impact the economy, where states invest money and who is seen as a threat. This is a global problem that is not easily solvable.
M00556010 Ricardo Cabrinha
Oxford dictionary. Terrorism [online] Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/terrorism
Doggett, G. and Dolmadjian, K. (2016). How the 2015 Paris terror attacks have affected tourism. [online] Available at: https://www.thelocal.fr/20161111/paris-still-fighting-to-woo-back-tourists-one-year-after-attacks
Batchelor, T. (2017) Islamphobic hate crimes jump fivefold after London bridge attack. The Independent. [online] Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/News/uk/crime/london-bridge-attack-latest-rise-islamophobic-hate-crimes-borough-market-stabbing-terror-police-a7777451.html
RT International. (2017). $250mn each day for 16yrs: The staggering cost of ‘War on Terror’ [online] Available at: https://www.rt.com/usa/408498-cost-war-on-terror/
Shimshon; Nitzan, Jonathan (2004): Differential Accumulation and Middle East Wars: Beyond Neo-Liberalism, In: Assassi, Libby Wigan, Duncan van der Pijl, Kees (Ed.): Global Regulation. Managing Crises After the Imperial Turn, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp 55 [online] Available at: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/157977/1/bna-017_040931BN_Beyond_neoliberalism.pdf
Nazar, S. (2013) Barrack Obamas foreign policy. [online] Available at: https://www.memri.org/reports/liberal-pakistani-cartoonist-sabir-nazar-offers-satirical-insights-pakistani-mass
News.bbc.co.uk. (2002). BBC News | WORLD | Poverty ‘fuelling terrorism’. [online] Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/1886617.stm