The causes of civil war coincide and contrast with the causes of terrorism in a few fundamental ways. The effects of both civil war and terrorism are prevalent and often wide spread because they are rarely contained within the geographical area in which they begin. Neighboring states and other cultural populations are also affected by the results of terrorism and civil wars.
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For example, The Irish Republican Army was a group of armed actors in a civil war against Great Britain. With the goal of achieving Irish independence, the IRA employed terrorist actions toward civilians. Many times, the same strategies are used for civil wars and acts of terrorism. However, there are two key differences between groups engaged in civil wars and those involved in terrorist groups. Civil wars are between organized groups who aim to change the government in a profound way. Terrorist groups aim to cause fear and terror among the civilian population. Another key difference between groups that engage in terrorism versus civil wars, is that terrorism groups are much smaller. They are incapable of executing an organized civil war like those in rebel groups.
To understand the causes of civil war and terrorism one must first understand what those causes are. A civil war is between armed participants who face a conflict within the same state. Civil wars are typically between a government and a rebel group within the state. Somalia has no central government and as a result that country has many groups that face ongoing conflict. To be considered a civil war there must be at least 1,000 battle-related deaths, and those deaths must be endured by all sides. Civil wars have many wide-ranging effects. Civil wars can create large groups of refugees that can burden other states. Civil wars also increase widespread crimes against humanity. The civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo led to millions of deaths as well as a horrendous amount of rape and other human atrocities.
In an attempt to end this humanitarian crisis, 20,000 United Nations peacekeepers were sent out. This civil war is a profound example of how civil wars can affect others outside a single state, spilling out of the nations borders and effecting other countries. On the other hand, terrorism is the act of violence or the threat of violence against civilians in order to achieve a political goal. The terrorist goal is to achieve a political aim by way of fear, whereas the goal of rebel forces in a civil war is to defeat the armed forces of the opposing force. The terrorist goal is to attack a targeted civilian population in order to force the acquiescence of a political demand. Without this demand, a terrorist attack would be nothing more than an act of violent criminality.
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