War Vs. Terrorism: What Are The Main Differences?

Issues of peace, war, and terrorism involve complex moral dilemmas. Considering war and terrorism, one might argue that they are significantly different. War is an armed confrontation between the parties to protect their interests. Terrorism, in turn, is a manifestation of violence aimed at inspiring fear (Scheffler, 2006). Their difference is that there are specific rules, laws, and goals in war, while terrorist actions are hidden and unjustified. While one may view terrorism as a type of freedom struggle, it only breeds fear, destroying society, and therefore cannot give freedom and justice.

The argument that can be used to defend the prospect that a terrorist is a freedom fighter is that, in this way, the individual wants to be heard and to protect their interest. However, it is worth disagreeing since the threat and fear brought by such actions only destroys and cannot be the basis for a reasonable goal. Such intimidation tactics that bring many losses to the civil population should always remain illegitimate.

Wars also bring significant losses and destruction, but they can be just. They must be conducted under the ruler’s authority, not a private person, and have reasonable goals and honest intentions (Aquinas, n.d.). In some cases, war is inevitable, for example, defending against attack, and the party can only act morally – strive for peace and comply with military laws. For example, torture is a law violation and should not be used in war under any circumstances.

However, it is worth noting that the world is changing, and new ways of waging wars are emerging, which may force people to reconsider their views on specific phenomena. Lin (2011) notes that drones can perform human tasks, but it remains unclear what laws apply to them. Their presence raises questions about the drones’ accuracy in order execution, potential technological errors, and whether the rule applies to them. Thus, many issues of peace and war still require study, consideration, and regulation, but it is essential to avoid senseless casualties and cruelty.


Aquinas, T. (n.d.). Summa theologica. Web.

Lin, P. (2011). Drone-ethics briefing: What a leading robot expert told the CIA. The Atlantics. Web.

Scheffler, S. (2006). Is terrorism morally distinctive? The Journal of Political Philosophy, 14(1), 1-17.