Deleted member 45466
I did cite the state apparatus's use of terrorist organisations (by proxy) to achieve political objectives.They still 'use violence to achieve political objectives'. The main difference between the two is that non state actors and groups do not have the press power that nations do - so they tend to be called terrorists and when nations undertake terrorist actions they call it war or 'operations' or some other term. The term itself is loaded.
Rather than terrorist being a designation (which is what warmongering nations want to do) it should refer to a kind of behaviour - eg blowing up a bus full of civilians, bombing a school or hospital or bridge. A siege against a civilian population. Detention without trial used against a civilian population to quell political dissent. A coup. Anything where people's legitimate aspirations are curtailed through violence or fear of it.
I am not happy with mercenaries or foreign fighters either, neither have any legitimacy - there is no justification for foreign fighters in Syria for example. A special designation of evil (not currently invented) needs to be produced for people who fight in other people's wars - prolonging them.
My point earlier was a clarification viz. Terrorists may use irregular methods to fight for a cause, but that doesn't make them irregular troops, as stated by Ratio. So referring to Mairead Farrell as an irregular soldier is incorrect IMO, since she was fighting against the state with no regard for the rules of war.
I do think the definition has become somewhat blurred as conventional battlefields have been superseded by asymmetric warfare (a result of the evolution and increased sophistication of arms perhaps?). The state increasingly has come to rely on dirty warfare to eliminate terrorists, and has occasionally transformed into one (e.g 70s Argentina).
I think the distinction between state terror and terrorist is related to citizen support. Was it Larry of Arabia who stated that he could only win a Guerrilla conflict if 98% of the population sympathised with the cause?