A terrorist only seeks to maximize casualties… but even by killing only one civilian, his objective of terror is achieved. Albeit on a smaller scale or without the impact that a mass killing would achieve.
Numbers are irrelevant, but targets are important, IMO. The League of Nations in 1937 attempted, but failed, to define terrorism in an internationally acceptable way and UN Member States still have no agreed-upon definition of “terrorism”.
Terrorism expert A. Schmid in 1992 suggested that the existing consensus on what constitutes a “war crime” could be used as a foundation on which to discuss a definition for “terrorism”. He suggested that if war crimes, defined as “deliberate attacks on civilians, hostage taking and the killing of prisoners” were applied to times of peace, “terrorism” could be defined as “peacetime equivalents of war crimes”.
League of Nations Convention in 1937 defined “terrorism” as “all criminal acts directed against a State and intended or calculated to create a state of terror in the minds of particular persons or a group of persons or the general public”. As indicated above, this definition was not agreed upon.
In 1999, the UN stated that “criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other nature that may be invoked to justify them”. (GA Res. 51/210 Measures to eliminate international terrorism).
Some scholars, led by A. Schmid in 1988, arrived at a rather wordy academic consensus definition of “terrorism” which states that “terrorism is an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-) clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons, whereby - in contrast to assassination - the direct targets of violence are not the main targets. The immediate human victims of violence are generally chosen randomly (targets of opportunity) or selectively (representative or symbolic targets) from a target population, and serve as message generators. Threat- and violence-based communication processes between terrorist (organization), (imperilled) victims, and main targets are used to manipulate the main target (audience(s)), turning it into a target of terror, a target of demands, or a target of attention, depending on whether intimidation, coercion, or propaganda is primarily sought”.
Not according to the scholars’ definition above.
I disagree. Regardless of all the other reasons that there may have been for dropping the bombs, I believe that by dropping the bombs the lives of more people (both combatants and civilians, both Japanese and Allied) were spared. In the definition of “terrorism” that I provided, a party fighting a “just” war is obligated only to minimize civilian casualties when it is impossible to completely avoid them. By dropping the bombs, even on targets where civilians were certain to be harmed, the higher goal of minimizing civilian casualties was achieved.