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First, let’s define terrorism; which is the use of violence, often against civilian targets, to instill fear, generate publicity, and sometimes destabilize governments. Ultimately terrorism is aimed to weaken governments and disrupt societies. Many of the extremists are young, irritated men who feel that they have been treated unfairly. Sometimes these extremists try to weaken a government, by either assassinations, kidnappings, or bombings. In France, attacks are considered international terrorism, also known as state-sponsored terrorism. State-sponsored terrorism is when the government supplies and/or trains extremists to make attacks in other countries, for example, countries in the Middle East (i.e. Syria, and Iraq).
In 2012, began years of attacks for France. The first attack in 2012 was against soldiers and the Jewish community. There were a few other smaller attacks that occurred but were not as big in the media. Then there was an attack against the offices of Charlie Hebdo in 2015, a humorous magazine which had published controversial cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, which were considered insulting by many Muslims. In November, an ISIS-organized attack against the Bataclan concert hall, bars, and a football stadium. Finally, in 2016 there was an attack in Nice on Bastille Day. (6) One reason that France was a target is that of a decision by ISIS to target it. That reasoning is because in September 2014, shortly after the start of the US-led airstrikes which included France, the chief spokesman for ISIS, Mohammad al-Adnani, singled out the ‘spiteful French’ among a list of enemies in a speech calling for the group’s sympathizers to launch attacks across the west. (6) In 1995, 22 countries in Europe eliminated most internal borders, consider driving from France to Belgium is like driving from Maryland to Virginia. Unfortunately, the open borders or free movement travel in Europe were created to bring unity among the countries; however, in recent times, it is becoming impossible for these countries to remain open due to security and safety issues of the people. Especially the Syrian refugees who migrated due to the free movement to cross borders, this allowed some criminals to utilize the travel among countries to flee from an incident/terrorist attack that occurred, such as the travel from France to Belgium. (2)
During the terrorist attacks in France, the state actors were and still are the United States, Belgium, England, and Germany. Key individuals in this are a list of people, but all affiliated with ISIS, which is also considered a non-state actor. A non-state actor is an individual or organization that has significant political influence but is not associated with any country or state. There have been a few international government organizations such as NATO, the UN, and the EU, to name a few that have assisted France after the attacks. (4)
The attacks that occurred in France where neither liberalism or realism theory; however, it would be considered constructivism. Constructivism understands states and individuals as basically social. Essentially, no state exists in and of itself, because states are essentially social beings. Constructivists argue that they have the capacity to not only influence and be influenced by the environment in which they exist. Another assumption of constructivism is that reality is constructed through interaction. Constructivists look at terrorism with equal strength and analyze different interests and identities of state and non-state actors to understand the interaction between the two. (7) Constructivist believe, ‘the human universe does not exist independent of the ideas of the people involved in it. Though constructivism offers no picture of what the world is like, it pushes inquiry into the processes by which human’s construct understandings.’ (1)