It is the intention of the Division 48 Subcommittee on Terrorism that this statement should supplement the APA Resolution on Terrorism (adopted 12/08/01) and in so doing extend the ongoing dialogue. We emphatically condemn all acts of terrorism, including the several acts of September 11, 2001, that precipitated the APA Resolution. We label them criminal and inhumane. In our statement below, we do not express the opinion of all Division 48 members. We invite responses from members and non-members alike. In drawing up our statement, the Subcommittee that undertook this task took into account:
1. International Perspectives: Terrorism is a worldwide problem, and psychologists in other countries who have lived for many decades in situations impacted by terrorism have much to contribute. We would like to suggest the importance of engaging a wider dialogue with colleagues worldwide.
2. The importance of situating psychology's contribution within a wider, multidisciplinary perspective. Although we agree that terrorism is a psychological method and had profound psychological impact, it also has crucial historical, political, social, cultural, economic, and religious roots. To avoid reductionism and dismissal by other disciplines and to maintain accuracy, psychologists who speak on these issues should be careful to frame their contributions in a multidisciplinary perspective.
3. The contribution of Peace Psychology in regard to the development of comprehensive approaches to the prevention of terrorism. It helps one understand that the military, intelligence, and law enforcement approaches to the containment or reduction of terrorism are insufficient in several respects. First, military responses will be perceived by those who resent the U.S. as transgressions and further injustices that warrant additional terrorist responses. The likely result is ongoing cycles of terrorist attack and military reprisal. Second, military and intelligence approaches fail to address psychologically related issues such as extremist ideologies, enemy images and demonic stereotypes, and youth radicalization. The latter are the soil in which terrorist groups, leaders, and activities take root. Psychology can help one to understand how these processes enable terrorism and to identify possible long-term steps for reducing terrorism. Current discussions of the "war on terrorism" invite excessive emphasis on military, intelligence, and related approaches without addressing the psychological dynamics that fuel terrorism. Psychologists can help by identifying the need for comprehensive, long-term approaches that address those psychological processes. Division 48 is the "home" within APA of psychologists with extensive expertise on these issues who are ready to help with efforts such as research, training, dialogue, etc.
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