Terror in Resonance: Voices Beyond Violence

Management: While my opinion of the show is generally positive overall, this essay, by no means, is meant to serve as a comprehensive review, but rather, as an articulation and analysis of some of what I feel is this series’ most integral and interesting themes. This essay is meant to take the place of a previous review on the show.

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I want to address a rather easy prejudice people end up giving in to: Terror in Resonance is about terrorism. No, Terror in Resonance is about the terrorists. It was about empathizing with the two terrorists of the show. Well, I suppose now it’s a bit reductive to fully separate “terrorism” from “terrorists,” not least because both terms have “terror” in their names. I’ll concede that show is parts “terrorists” and “terrorism.” What I do want to divorce from the conversation is the inordinate attention people pay towards the morality of terrorism. Should terrorists deserve our empathy when, to us, they show none for their victims? Many, if not most, of these victims are “innocent people,” innocent people insofar as they have no direct connection to the causes they are committing terrorism for. Many terrorists know they are targeting “innocent people.”

Well, now we’re talking about the morality of terrorism. Conflating the motivations of one particularly amoral terrorist with the motivations of all terrorists is problematic. It’s just as dehumanizing to the terrorists as to the people they terrorize. And yet, this kind of oversimplified heuristic still operates on a public level. Terrorists are people. The people who are inspired to terrorism are people. The people who are vulnerable to becoming terrorists are people. Most terrorism doesn’t happen spontaneously because most terrorists don’t decide to become terrorists spontaneously. This drive to terrorism comes from somewhere on the lines of freedom and faith, somewhere filled with grievance and resent. It comes from somewhere human.

Nine and Twelve are human.

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Too many people (and too many governments) seem to believe that everything will be fine if those terrorists were just dead. Terrorists are human though, and as social creatures, human beings possess social connections and belong to social networks. They have friends. They have families. Both friends and families take kindly to their companions and kin being killed. They also have people who are sympathetic to their causes. These cultures, communities of violence, once established, support terrorists and may replace the terrorists who are caught and killed while going about their business. You end up with something of a hydra situation where you lop off one head and three more seem to pop up in their place. You can dice up the hydra’s entire body by going after the support networks, but the hydra might be a bit large for that to be possible. You’ll just make the hydra angry. You’ll have the hydra sprout more heads in places you didn’t expect. You might just alienate more people, who then, aggrieved, enraged, and desperate,  might support terrorism and maybe even become terrorists themselves.

I don’t like terrorism on a personal level, but discussing the morality of terrorism is a sure-fire way of preventing crucial discourse behind what exactly causes terrorism, what causes people to become terrorists.  Terrorism is not an ideology. It is a tactic utilized in service to an ideology. Some ideologies morally justify terrorism while distinguishing themselves from separate ideologies, like mine, for instance, that morally reject terrorism. Another example of some of these ideological can be illustrated with a cliché: One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter or faith defender.

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Even if freedom fighters and faith defenders acknowledge that they’re terrorists themselves, many probably wouldn’t ultimately mind committing terrorism if that is what it takes to achieve whatever goals they happen to hold dear enough to commit these acts in the first place. Is there any room for moral arguments by a preacher removed from their circumstances and worldview by that point, to people dedicated enough that they are willing to go to these extremes for their causes?  Then there’s all the politics that accompanies the designation of who is or who isn’t a terrorist, not least when the power of that decision is appropriated by governments. More potential dehumanization abounds. It’s a messy and bitter state of affairs.

For the sake of argument, let’s just say for now that Nine and Twelve committed terrorism in the show. I’ll go into why that’s the case later in this piece.

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Japanese ultranationalists prompt the Japanese government to requisition stockpiles of children (yes, children) from orphanages throughout the country. Renamed, relabeled, dehumanized to a mere number, these children were then experimented to become superhumans who would then be used for their country. It’s a superhuman experimented program comparable to the Captain America one, though for the smart instead of the strong. Captain America consented to being experimented though. He didn’t die by the end of it. These children were forced into the program. Most of them died. All them, deceased and survived, suffered. The survivors continue to suffer from the direct residual effects and post-traumatic stress of the whole ordeal.

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The program was ultimately shelved as a failure. Out of the three children who somehow survived the experiments, two escaped from the program’s facilities. The mental damage of these experiments would haunt these two, Nine and Twelve, even as they lied low years after. Years after, they rose up when they realized that the ultranationalists were concocting something dubious yet again. This time, instead of developing the theoretical superperson, they went for manufacturing the already proven nuclear bomb. The narrative of the show begins when Nine and Twelve clandestinely steal the clandestinely government-produced nuclear bomb. They launch spates of bombings to publicly expose ultranationalists for their two crimes:

1. Their crime of making a nuclear bomb.

2. Their crime of creating Nine and Twelve.

As aforementioned, a lot of people had to suffer and die in the latter process, and a lot more have the potential suffer and die in the former.

In conducting these spates of bombings, there are two reasons for why these two would commit terrorism and, well, become terrorists:

1. Revenge, revenge for themselves, revenge for their fallen children comrades, revenge against the people responsible for doing these terrible things to them, to all of them.

2. Protest, protest against what drove the people responsible for doing these terrible things in the first place, protest against the ideology that justified experimenting on children and acquiring nuclear bombs.

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It might be understandable to say that Nine and Twelve resorted to violence for retribution. After all, violence is far from an atypical reaction to violence. I don’t think the feeling of obtaining personal gratification, the sentiment of getting back at someone, was not factor in why these two committed violence, however nonlethal that violence may be. How their violence manifested itself the way it did, particularly where their violence’s nonlethal nature is concerned, suggests a more complex picture of these two than the standard eye-for-an-eye explanation can properly elucidate. A more rigorous examination of the idiosyncrasies of their violence is needed to really bring to light what they holistically wanted to accomplish.

Those personally responsible for the experiment program weren’t assassinated one by one, in the V for Vendetta formula. Assassinations that may or may not also visit various degrees of suffering on those being targeted were absent from Nine’s and Twelve’s plans. It’s curious. Perhaps their bombings were an attempt to draw the people directly complicit out of hiding for a personal confrontation. You can’t personally kill them, personally make them suffer if you don’t know where they are, can’t go to where they are. Perhaps the ultranationalists were in hiding and Nine’s and Twelve’s terrorist bombings were the means to flush them out. By the end of the show, however, those ultranationalists weren’t personally confronted by Nine and Twelve, let alone tortured and murdered. They were approached instead by a Kenjirou Shibazaki, a detective, who took them in according to the strictures of his profession. It’s curious. Nine and Twelve were doing illegal terrorism so that Shibazaki can do legal law enforcement. If Nine and Twelve were doing all this just for vengeance, they’re certainly going about it in a soft and roundabout manner.

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Additionally, those two planned their bombings in ways that sought to avoid casualties in general. Surely it would be easier to force the ultranationalists’ hands out in the open if those hands kept being soaked in blood the longer they remained in hiding. Bloody hands are noticeable to the people who they have to come in contact with them, such as government officials who aren’t ultranationalists. More than the ultranationalists, although they were the driving force behind the experiment program and nuclear bomb program, the government, albeit through its ruling coalition, is also complicit in providing the approval and marshaling the resources to make both experiment and bomb a reality in the first place. If word leaked out to the rest of the officials of the government that the ultranationalist pet projects they (according to how the public will inevitably see it) tacitly stamped their seal on were responsible for a massacre of citizens as a response to and result by an already questionable superhuman experimentation and nuclear bomb program, there’s bound to be at least some intragovernment conflict.

Certainly, the other factions in the government wouldn’t stand for the ultranationalists to remain in hiding for long, if either because of ethical responsibility, political opportunity, or personal dissociation. Where personal dissociation is concerned, there might be attempts by the government, or at least some government officials, to bury or burn the evidence. Nine and Twelve were ultimately assassinated for their troubles. However, intragovernmental power struggle will occur regardless if public pressure, instigated by Nine and Twelve beforehand but taking a life of its own thereafter, prevents the government from hushing it completely up.

But wouldn’t these terrorist bombings distract the public from the ultranationalists’ and government’s crimes anyway? After all, the government could easily direct any blame away from itself and towards Nine and Twelve, shaping public reaction through media manipulation. It’s freaking terrorism after all. That option for the government is hampered by the fact that Nine’s and Twelve’s terrorism been deliberately nonlethal. It provides space for the public to consider the message behind their terrorism when it’s not coated in what might appear to be bloody senselessness. Then there’s the scenario where Nine and Twelve use the nuclear bomb the government manufactured. The government would get a host of hard to spin potentially incriminating inquiries in the aftermath, such as:

“Where did they get this bomb in the first place?”

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Why do I consider the violence that Nine and Twelve commit throughout the series terrorism, despite the fact that their violence (with the possible exception of the nuclear bomb and the resulting radioactive fallout and electricity blackout it possibly and undeniably inflicted over Tokyo) has been nonlethal, despite the fact that these two went above and beyond to keep their violence nonlethal? The reason is rooted in the understanding that terrorism is a tactic of political violence for the weak. The scale necessary of wars and insurgencies are impossible for just these two to wage on their own. These two are both the only opposition to the ultranationalists’ machinations. They’re the only living witnesses to their designs, and as such, they can’t really hope to raise the manpower and resources needed to raise armies and conduct guerrilla campaigns.

All they can do is commit terrorism, and one of the benefits that terrorism offers for Nine and Twelve is that it tends to attract a lot of attention. The theatrics of terrorism glue people to their news screens and newspapers. Coverage on terrorism is an exciting thing to report on, and an inciting thing to follow what better way to really drive the sensationalism home than through spates of bombings, fantastic bombings organized around a game, a puzzle, that engages both police and public. Nine and Twelve need to strike a public relations balance in how they handle their bombings, because a deadly bombing risks alienating people, distracting people from their ultimate goal of publicly exposing the ultranationalists for their crimes. They need to remain pop culture idols instead of pop culture pariahs. If all goes well, the public as well as other outraged or opportunistic figures and factions within the government will demand that ultranationalist programs be reversed. At least prominent ultranationalists will have to step down from power and face the fallout of their actions.

What would certainly make Nine and Twelve’s plans fail is if the ultranationalists in the narrative basically controlled the government from the shadows. They certainly operate within the government’s shadow. As is the case with how the narrative is actually written, however, the power that the ultranationalists wield is not absolute. They still have to bow under public and intragovernment pressure. Shibazaki was able to arrest some of them himself.

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Fictional though the superhuman experimentation and nuclear bomb programs may be in Terror in Resonance, the tune of Nine’s and Twelve’s grievances are not, and those grievances revolve around the ultranationalists. I’ve mentioned “ultranationalists” more than a few times already throughout the essay. For those who aren’t fully cognizant of who ultranationalists are, let me assure you that they aren’t a figment of the show’s imagination. In the context of Japanese politics today, they extol the exceptionalism of Japanese culture at its nationalist and martial height pre-1945, the end of World War II, and lament its economic stagnation, political paralysis, and cultural degradation in the face of the pressures of globalization and liberalism especially post-1991, the end of the Cold War.

They wish to rid the Japanese psyche of the uncertainties, inadequacies, and unease it feels over its place in a world turned topsy-turvy for it now that it is no longer the world’s rising sun. They want to restore Japan to its prior status as the hegemon of at least the Asia-Pacific, keeping threatening enemies like China at bay and existing rivals like the US at a distance. To do that, they need to transform Japan into the military power, beyond popular and constitutional constraints, it once was so it can utilize the military power it once commanded to become the great Japan it used to be. They are unapologetic about past Japanese militarism, and they certainly have few qualms about launching dubious, questionable projects if its for the greater good of Japan, a Japan of their own vision.

Child experimentation, as the kind suffered by Nine and Twelve, is a possibility under a ultranationalist regime free from the checks of public scrutiny. Nuclear weapons development, however, falls under more than just a mere possibility for the Japanese government. During the Cold War, the Japanese government, under a conservative administration, previously considered building their own nuclear bombs before shelving those considerations aside to US pressure. In exchange for Japan being under the US nuclear umbrella, Japan would not contribute to nuclear weapons proliferation by becoming a nuclear weapons state.

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However, in light of Japan’s decline from international relevance once its bubble economy burst post-Cold War, and the threat of a resurgent and aggressive China, ultranationalist sentiments persist that argue that Japan should reconsider its current stance on nuclear weapons. Running counter to these ultranationalist sentiments are the pacifist-leftist positions born out of the devastation of World War II and the American nuclear bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima who want nothing to do with either nuclear weapons or the ultranationalist ideologies led to the devastation of Japan in the first place.

In the middle of this is the US, who remain simultaneously adamant to preventing further nuclear weapons proliferation and maintaining the strength of the US-Japan security alliance, though for the sake of maintaining its own vision of regional order and stability instead of opposing a now defunct Soviet Union. The US sees the former interest as compromising of the latter interest. The US both welcomes Japan militarizing so they can contribute to its vision. The US is also wary of what might happen if Japan militarizes too much. In the show, while the US government may not be exactly happy with the Japanese government for their nuclear ambitions, they are not willing to let their security alliance fall apart. It is American soldiers that assassinate Nine and Twelve at the end of the show.

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Terror in Resonance is about Nine and Twelve. It is about the cruelties and injustices of callousness and dehumanization that Nine and Twelve suffered, that their children comrades died because of, and that Japanese society will have to endure if it is not stopped, at the hands of Japanese ultranationalists, facilitated (and later partially covered up) by the Japanese and American governments. Without so much as an army or even band of guerrillas, with only just the two of them, they resorted to terrorism. Their violence was not senseless. Their violence was their attempts to make their voices beyond violence heard.

Management: For other great essays on Terror in Resonance, I suggest checking out pieces written by Bobduh and Atelier Emily. Bobduh’s in linked here. Atelier Emily’s is linked here, here, and here.

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17 thoughts on “Terror in Resonance: Voices Beyond Violence

  1. > Why do I consider the violence that Nine and Twelve commit throughout the series terrorism, despite the fact that their violence (with the possible exception of the nuclear bomb and the resulting radioactive fallout and electricity blackout it possibly and undeniably inflicted over Tokyo) has been nonlethal, despite the fact that these two went above and beyond to keep their violence nonlethal? The reason is rooted in the understanding that terrorism is a tactic of political violence for the weak.

    In one of my early communications classes in college, a professor told our class: “Violence is the failure of rhetoric.” In this case, rhetoric fails because Nine and Twelve never even had a voice to begin with. Their rhetoric is unheard whispers, and so they seek something that allows them to shout over all else.

  2. I’m going to slightly diverge the topic because I’m interested in seeming some of your writing/opinions on real-world terrorism.

    I appreciated Terror in Resonance on the whole, largely because many of the items you have pointed out already in your post. We share pretty much the same opinions, especially on the topic of American media’s tendency to align “terrorism” with “senseless evil”.

    “Senseless terrorism” is in fact sort of contradictory. Most definitions of terrorism specifically mention:

    the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.

    ^Keyword “political aims”, meaning there is always a purpose or goal motivating terrorism. Terrorists seek to accomplish something by performing terrorism, so by definition it cannot be senseless. If it were senseless, it would be something more akin to psychopathic mass murder, which is something distinct from terrorism even though the gross outcomes are similar.

    But now that we’ve started to talk about definitions of terrorism, this sort of runs into that complicated place where even today, the international community still has difficulty precisely defining terrorism. I read a fairly nice quote on the definitions of terrorism page on Wikipedia:

    “terrorism is a pejorative term. It is a word with intrinsically negative connotations that is generally applied to one’s enemies and opponents, or to those with whom one disagrees and would otherwise prefer to ignore. (…) Hence the decision to call someone or label some organization ‘terrorist’ becomes almost unavoidably subjective, depending largely on whether one sympathizes with or opposes the person/group/cause concerned. If one identifies with the victim of the violence, for example, then the act is terrorism. If, however, one identifies with the perpetrator, the violent act is regarded in a more sympathetic, if not positive (or, at the worst, an ambivalent) light; and it is not terrorism.”

    I know that you mention in your post above that you consider 9&11’s actions to be terrorism because you associate terrorism as leverage for weak against the strong. However, this sort of also ignores the presence of state terrorism–which occasionally occurs because conventional warfare is not an option, or because additional benefits may be garnered from committing terrorism rather than conventional warfare that strictly adheres to Geneva Conventions. An example might be the nuclear bombings of the civilian cities of Nagasaki/Hiroshima.

    Now, I’m not saying that 9 and 11 did not commit terrorism; in fact, I agree with you in that they did, but I just wanted to derail the topic slightly so I get to see Zero-kun be super cool and teach Matcha about all these things Matcha never had the opportunity to study formally. :3

    • Most scholarly attempts at a definition of “terrorism” treat it as an act of violence geared toward the achievement of a particular aim for usefulness’ sake, as you said, there’s no universally agreed upon popular dimension outside of some very general areas (like “violence” and “noncombatants”). But there are also communicative and personal dimensions to it. As you said, no doubt a lot of terrorists, from their end, try to distance themselves from the negative connotations of the term “terrorism” with more attractive word coding (“hero,” “freedom fighter,” or “martyr,” for instance), and then there are terrorists who acknowledge they are committing terrorism altogether, but will continue with future acts because they feel like they have to (“If people say I’m committing terrorism while doing what’s right, then I’m a terrorist that’s doing what’s right”). People might be doing morally dubious terrorism for the greater good, or they might think the terrorism they are doing isn’t morally dubious at all. And then there are institutions like governments that will call “terrorism” and terrorists out based on their own ideational and political conceptions of what constitute both.

      On the question you bring up about state-sponsored terrorism, I still see state-sponsored terrorism as a tool of political violence for the weak, because terrorism is still chosen in lieu of graver alternatives like full-blown wars and invasions. To give an example, Pakistan has been guilty for quite some time of developing an arsenal of religiously motivated terrorist organizations dedicated to attacking and undermining India. Pakistan did this both to compensate for the the clear and growing gap in strength between the Pakistani and Indian economies (and, consequently, militaries) and avoid the possibility of triggering a nuclear showdown. As serious as a Pakistani government sponsored terrorist attack on Mumbai might be, the Indian government isn’t going to risk going into an exorbitantly costly (in terms of money and lives) war in order to rectify a tragic, though infinitely less costly, incident of terrorism.

      As for the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and, for that matter, the soft targeted bombings of Tokyo, London, and Berlin, I wouldn’t call those events acts of terrorism because it undermines any remaining and useful specificity “terrorism” holds for at least scholars. You end up detracting away critical attention from those specific instances of asymmetrical political violence today that are actually problems today by opening the door to calling any number and kind of violence “terrorism.” Say we label the nuclear strikes on Japan as acts of terror. So what? How does that help us deal with Al Qaeda and ISIS? Frankly speaking, it doesn’t. It’s just unproductive name blaming.

      • As unproductive the name blaming might be, I still think the term state terrorism has particular relevance when we’re talking about Israel, Palestine, Ukraine, and ISIS–all of which involve some sort of self-proclaimed state–all of which have been accused of terrorism (depending on which side you are on).

        I mention ISIS in particular because it is quite a different political entity compared to Al Qaeda, in the sense that ISIS does not plan/fund terrorist operations abroad as Al Qaeda does. In that sense, if you ignore the religious fundamentalism and its pursuit of genocide/apostasy (purging “heretic” civilian Muslims), it is politically no different than the separatists in Ukraine. ISIS is a movement to found its own territorial state and caliphate (although the principles of jihad prevent it from accepting borders, and it must continue to expand).

        Terrorism has occurred abroad, committed by Western sympathizers of the ISIS/caliphate movement, but technically ISIS has had no direct hand in those operations. It has done nothing more than advocate for a worldwide reawakening of Islamic fundamentalism.

        Again, we run into issues of how we define terrorism.

        The problem that I see with your insistence that terrorism is “a tool of political violence for the weak”, is that it implicitly absolves “the strong” as a party ever capable of committing terrorism. Given that terrorism is a such a pejorative, politically loaded term (I mean, with Bush’s “War or Terror”… doesn’t that imply we can wage war on any entity we define as terrorism?), it seems problematic to me that only one side can receive that pejorative. The strong don’t commit terrorism–they’re just morally ambiguous and simply commit war crimes?

        I know you dislike it when I play with hypotheticals, but the truth of the matter is that “the strong” are capable of committing equally destructive and morally questionable acts of violence on civilians as are “the weak.” What, per say, is the difference between obliterating the city of Hiroshima and the attack on Pearl Harbor (which was judged to be a war crime) and the 9/11 attack? I’m not saying we should go back and blame the US today (there were no International statutes on civilian casualties at the time); what is apparent to me is the presence of a double standard.

        The question is, does that double standard still exist? And will that double standard always been in favor of the strong/victor?

        What precisely do you call “a tool of political violence for the strong”? (e.g. the destruction of Shijuku and Saitama ghettos in Code Geass)

      • Also, I keep bringing nukes up…. because even where I am (you know where I live and go to school), I still hear people say: “We should nuke Iran/ISIS/Palestine/N.Korea and be done with it!”

        And that well… wellllllll………………………

        Hypothetically if we did, what would that be called?

      • Your ISIS to Al Qaeda comparison is a bit flawed. Al Qaeda plans terrorist attacks so that the inspiration for armed jihad that results inspires other people to commit terrorism in Al Qaeda’s stead. Al Qaeda envisions itself as the vanguard. It’s supposed to get the ball rolling, to provide the momentum and direction. Nothing more. Al Qaeda’s inspired lone wolf terrorist attacks before, and ISIS isn’t really any different in that specific regard.

        ISIS employs a hybrid mixture of army, insurgent, and terrorist tactics. Part of the reason why ISIS has been so successful in quickly taking over cities, and their adversaries have not been, is because they employ suicide bombers to make an opening for them. They’re too weak themselves to penetrate into any fortifications, so they use a terrorist tactic that’s hard to counter: their lives, attached to explosives and usually a car.

        Terrorism is a tactic. You can’t wage war against a tactic, and that’s exactly the trouble the Bush administration ran into when it attempted to do so.

        Again, you run into the issue of making “terrorism” so broad a term that it practically becomes a word that loses any usefulness that it hasn’t already lost. The term’s evolution from the French Revolution to the present day to roughly mean “acts of violence committed by organizations and individuals that may or may not be sponsored by a government entity, employing that violence through asymmetric against noncombatants with political aims in mind.” The words in quotes is something that there’s some common ground of acceptance on, at least for scholars. That kind of asymmetric violence is political violence that would not otherwise be taken if there were alternatives or the alternatives were less costly. I am not absolving states of committing terrorism. In fact, the Pakistani government is guilty of committing terrorism through proxy groups. Still, to call something like the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor acts of terrorism goes too far. By that account, what would distinguish the nuclear bombings or the surprise attack between acts of war and acts of terrorism? There’s some fudging where terrorists, freedom fighters, and peaceful opposition are concerned, especially in the case of China in Xinjiang, but there’s a qualitative enough amount of different for there to be a useful distinction in other areas.

      • One, those people are idiots.

        Two, it wouldn’t be called terrorism. If you’re worried that the US gets a free pass on terrorism in this instance because it’s a strong state, then an example where the US was likely guilty of sponsoring terrorism were the Contras in Nicaragua.

      • XDD I’m sort of beginning to think the major divide that we have here still sits on the definition of terrorism.

        I think, to some extent, we don’t exactly agree on what “State Terrorism” is. The examples that you gave primarily fall under the umbrella of “State-Sponsored Terrorrism” (using non-state actors), whereas I am suggesting or referring to the situation where the state is the actor.

        Wikipedia article! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_terrorism

        In short, I am operating with the broader definition of terrorism which you find problematic for not being specific enough (though I am not alone in viewing it this way):

        “..regardless of the differences between governments on the question of definition of terrorism, what is clear and what we can all agree on is any deliberate attack on innocent civilians [or non-combatants], regardless of one’s cause, is unacceptable and fits into the definition of terrorism.”

        ^My focal point being deliberate attack on innocent civilians.

        Of course, it is understandable that academic and scholarly literature has its own conventions, but I think the closer we go in the direction of your definition, the more we a blurring the boundary between guerrilla warfare and terrorism (perhaps they have been intermarried already?). I would present a case study: a suicide bomber who bombs an American military facility in Iraq–is that terrorism or guerrilla warfare?

        I understand that the distinction between “State Terrorism” and “Non-State Terrorism” is important, because they are very different in motives, qualities, and everything else (that doesn’t necessarily mean the end result with civilian lives lost is any different). However, you could say my motives are different from yours and most academics (which is explanatory in nature).

        I am focusing more on the morality of terrorism. More specifically, relative morality. Early in your post, you mentioned how you wanted to divorce what causes terrorism from the morality of terrorism, which is fine; however, I am interested in public opinion on the morality of terrorism–for instance, the distinction that causes those people I mentioned to think that nuking X, Y, or Z is more moral than terrorism committed by non-state agents, which everyone pretty much universally will say is immoral.

        One can insist that “State Terrorism” (e.g. the nuking I’m referring to, because its a deliberate attack on innocent noncombatants) isn’t terrorism, but it also elevates the actions of the state and subconsciously suggests to the masses that strong states are morally superior to terrorists, even though the /final outcome/ is essentially the same between the two.

        In short, I am suggesting that if we got in the habit of calling deliberate attacks on civilians “terrorism” (even in the context of state actors or when the “strong” is the perpetrator), there would perhaps be less trigger-happiness in the average american public and less “American Exceptionalism”:

        “Let’s nuke North Korea.”
        “No, that’d be terrorism.”

        As it stands, I believe there is no good word in the English language that describes deliberate attacks on civilians, if not terrorism. Even if there were, it wouldn’t carry the same word connotations as “terrorism” (which everyone instantly assumes is strongly immoral).

      • On ISIS vs Al Qaeda, I still believe I am largely correct in saying only Al Qaeda performs terrorism abroad (meaning, overseas). ISIS was reported to have much more of a contained, regional focus (especially since it regards large populations of Muslims as its enemies). Perhaps I was a little extreme when I compared ISIS to Ukraine’s separatists, but the nature of the terrorism is still different.

        For instance, the majority of ISIS’s attacks of “terrorism” (e.g. suicide bombings) have been disproportionally directed towards the local army and police. Like you pointed out, ISIS uses suicide bombings and “terrorism” as a tactic part of conventional warfare (and insurgency) to expedite or hasten their takeover in the region.

        In contrast, Al Qaeda’s attacks of terrorism has predominantly been civilian (overseas).

        This doesn’t mean ISIS isn’t a terrorist organization though. It’s pursuit of mass executions and beheadings in areas where it has obtained control would be plenty enough qualification for anyone to call it a terrorist organization. But in this situation, they already have power, you know?

      • And I can certainly produce articles that say ISIS is a terrorist organization, but you acknowledge that.

        We’re splitting hairs in what exactly constitutes terrorism overseas. Al Qaeda has certainly invested in directly planning overseas terrorist attacks, and ISIS appears to at least invest much less in direct planning as far as hard resources are concerned. Both have inspired mainly independent cells and lone wolf attacks, however. However you dice that, it’s still terrorism abroad, and still terrorism they planned to occur, if not directly.

        I see what you mean though by “suicide bombings” being targeted towards local army and police as opposed to who would be strictly interpreted noncombatants (though suicide bombings have been loosed on civilian populations by ISIS regardless). People, including many scholars however, tend to identify suicide bombing as a tactic of terrorism, regardless of the target. A bit of a discrepancy with strands of accepted definition for “terrorism,” but it’s something I’m not going to really dispute.

        Those tactics accompany conventional warfare and insurgency, but are not conventional tactics. I’d still hesitate to say that terrorism isn’t necessarily a tactic for the weak, because they’re still using that tactic in lieu of others because they aren’t strong enough to achieve breakthroughs in their military campaigns otherwise. This is, of course, assuming suicide bombing is considered a terrorist tactic.

      • I think there are crimes against humanity, if that’s a decent placeholder for what you’re trying to get at, though there’s bound to be overlap between instances of terrorism and crimes against humanity. And I’m not suggesting terrorism is always more morally repugnant than crimes against humanity. Separating them doesn’t suggest, to me anyway, that the former is absolutely more morally reprehensible than the latter. I personally prefer to distance myself away from more faithful French Revolution derivatives of the “terrorism” term for the sake of utility and clarity, because (as I’ve stated previously on a few occasions) so many things can be interpreted as (state) terrorism otherwise.

        Outside of the fact that terrorism is usually meant to intimidate rather than eradicate (with nuclear weapons fitting more into the latter category upon actual use than the former), I think what you’re attempting to parse out is the level or degree of sophistication in violence inflicted. If I can draw historical analogues, the British army during the American Revolutionary War had a hell of a time trying to cope with the perceived un-sophistication, but nonetheless effectiveness, of Americans constantly sniping British officers and consequently throwing British regiments into disorder as a result. The difference in scope between that analogy and terrorism and nuclear weapons might be gaping, but I think parallels can still be made.

      • Giving it some thought, I’m not sure suicide bombing in order to open up holes in Iraqi army defenses was the greatest example of straight-up terrorism (my impression is that suicide bombing is generally considered a terrorist act by ordinary folks and scholars alike, but I’m not 100% certain), but ISIS has still conducted suicide bombing on civilian populaces both in Baghdad, Iraq, and (just recently) Suruc, Turkey that seems to fit the terrorist line more.

  3. Terror in Resonance is a show with lots of interesting thematic elements. Too bad there’re just so many Code Geass-level nonsense in it, without a character as interesting as Lelouch. I also find it amusing that many people defended Lelouch while bashing Nine and Twelve for their action. Lelouch intentionally murder all of his enemy, Nine and Twelve just tried to expose corruption in a non-lethal way.

    That said, If this was real life, I doubt those kid’s action in Terror in Resonance would actually mean anything. The public have very short-term memory. Nobody gave a shit when CIA tortured people or NSA stole private info. I wonder how Japan public will react to a situation like this. Living in a third world country, there’re so many case of horrible abuse and corruption. Those that got big cause the public to be angry for a while, some big names were put in prison, then they installed another asshole again.

    • Bear in mind that the detonation of a nuclear weapon is a rather big deal anywhere, and it’s an especially huge deal for the Japanese. If anything is hard to forget for the Japanese, it’s a mushroom cloud of recent memory on their soil. It’s kind of why Nine and Twelve decided to end their terrorist bombing spree with a nuclear bang.

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