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Rémi Brulin

Evolution and Debates about the Concept of Terrorism

[Israeli bombing of PLO headquarters in Tunis, 1985. Image by Israeli Air Force.]

The term “terrorism” has become a permanent fixture in US political vocabulary. However, as recently as the late 1970s this terminology was virtually absent from the rhetorical arsenal of US presidents. Today, people invoke the concept in ways that suggest its meaning is self-evident and consensual. In fact what is and is not described as “terroristic” in the American context is the result of a relatively recent and highly political process of meaning-making. In this ...

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From Reagan to Obama: Secrecy and Covert Operations in the Fight against “Terrorism”


Ronald Reagan was the first American president to put “terrorism” at the heart of his foreign policy discourse. During his first term, Reagan did so mostly in reference to conflicts in Central America. In El Salvador, his administration presented US military aid as necessary to help the Salvadoran armed forces fight the “terrorist threat” posed by the FMLN (Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional, an umbrella group of leftist guerilla organizations). In ...

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Rémi Brulin


Remi Brulin is a visiting scholar at New York University’s Journalism Institute. You can follow him on Twitter at @RBrulin.