Terrorism and the United States


Terrorism remains one of the biggest challenges facing the United States government. Security resource (2008) defines terrorism as the use of force against people or property of the United States, for purposes of coercion, ransom, or intimidation, in which the perpetrators of the acts attempt to create fear among the citizens of the country that their government is unable to protect them against the terrorists and therefore they gain free publicity. Terrorism can be aptly separated into two, namely domestic and international terrorism. In this essay, we will answer the following questions in regards to terrorism in the United States: Weapons of mass destruction and the effect of the their threat to he formulation of a balanced terrorism policy, current trends in the threats against the united states of a terrorist nature, and finally the tools available for dealing with the terrorist threat, the ones which are possible the most effective and the most optimal way to integrate these tools for the best outcome.

Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and terrorism policy

Worries over weapons of mass destruction have greatly distorted that approach to terrorism, possibly the biggest deviation is self serving bias, whereby all of the state’s terrorism problems are blamed on foreign powers, leaving the state itself blameless. Mark Selden breaks the norm by looking back to the state’s past (especially war history/crimes) that may have contributed to the current terrorist situation (Selden and Alvin, 2003). The issue of the development of weapons of mass destruct also come to question, since the United States itself is in possession of quite a number of them, yet the stand is that no foreign state, should be allowed to develop them. This extends to the classification of foreign states as terrorism sponsors/friendly states, examples of which are North Korea, and Iran. On the other hand, these states might just be reacting to the classification and resorting to developing the WMDs for defense purposes, if nothing else. Threats involving WMDs have also led to a shift in the overall policy on terrorism, as summarized by Jason Pate, who is a senior research analyst in WMDs and database manager, is of the opinion that terrorism has shifted from the traditionally thought of motive of politics to a now and potentially worse kind of motivation, that is religion. There is however an ironic twist in that despite of being religion oriented, this new terrorism has become even more lethal with known terrorists such as Osama going on record as intending to use WMDs to inflict larger casualties against US targets (James Martin Center for non proliferation Studies, 2008) The current economic woes of the United State can be partly attributed to terrorist policy. After the September eleven attacks on the United States military presence was intensified in the middle east in an attempt to discourage support for the terrorist groups, which may be viewed by some initially impartial extremist groups as an attack and therefore attract more attacks.

Trends in terrorism and effects on the United States

The general trend in terrorism is that they are getting better, using more sophisticated weapons and therefore inflicting more damage on their victims. There are numerous salient terrorist support mechanisms which are being taken advantage of, such as public computer databases that provide free information for the terrorists, communication systems that allow covert messages to be sent and received etc. Apart from using more deadly weapons, terrorists are also resorting to using unconventional attack methods commonly chemical and biological, putting the United State’s preparedness and response techniques at risk of being caught unawares, since there are countless varieties of these agents that are available to the terrorists, some of which are extremely effective at small quantities. An example is a small amount of an airborne biological agent released in a crowded area could have serious future implications for the victims. There is also increased threat to the United States resulting from the arrests and imprisonment of terrorists captured both locally and abroad, with some groups openly declaring their intention to retaliate, others warning of repercussions if their colleagues are not released. There are possibly other numerous groups that are planning retaliation secretly so as to take advantage of the element of surprise (The federation of American scientists, 2008).

Tools of managing terrorist threat

There are several tools that are available to the anti terrorist agencies for managing terrorist threats. These tools are as diverse in approach as they are numerous. There are the classical/conventional anti-terrorist activities such as identifying and disbanding/disrupting the activities of terrorist groups, cutting off the sources of resources for the groups such using such tactics as limiting their communication with each other and with their supporting nations, and removing access to safe havens for the perpetrators. All these can be enhanced if greater success is to be achieved in the war against terrorism. There are also differing opinions on the application of military force against the terrorist groups and their supporting countries, with one side arguing that the punishment that the country is capable of inflicting on them would serve as sufficient deterrent for further attacks, but the other side being of the opinion that a military attack would only lead to retaliatory attacks that would be disastrous to the innocent public. Instead, those who share this school of thought advocate for a more subtle approach, involving the agents of the law and diplomacy (Nuclear Threat Initiative, 2006). Security in the management of weapons of mass destruction material (primarily nuclear reactive elements) in the countries that posses them and transparency in their handling is of paramount importance if the development and trafficking of these weapons is to be suitably controlled. Normal inter-state movement restriction may also be used to prevent the spread of WMDs. There may also some help available in the form of international agreements and conventions that are primarily geared towards the curbing of international terrorism. Also resolution of the conflicts in the Middle East would leave those terrorists opposed to peace with fewer options for justifying their activities thereby reducing the incidents of terrorism. Although all of the above terrorist suppression measures are equally important, some deserve more attention than others and there is no single foolproof solution, and therefore an optimum mix of measures should be adopted. Luckily, some of the measure listed above can and should be effected together. An example is the use of international agreements and the resolving of conflicts in the Middle East. The international community should play an active role in the straightening the issues in contention in the conflicts and apply pressure to states to adopt the WMD restriction agreements that it formulates through such agencies as the United Nations and the IMF. Technological co-operation should be enhanced in matters of security and export restrictions, and the identification and disbanding the groups. Diplomatic ties should be strengthened for the purpose of reducing access to the safe havens for the terrorists. Where the legitimate governments of the states in control of potentially dangerous material are threatened by powerful terrorist groups, military and monetary support should be provided to ensure that the state resources are kept in safe hands and are out of reach of the terrorists.

Works Cited

  1. Mark Selden, Alvin Y (2003). War and State Terrorism: The United States, Japan, and the Asia-Pacific in the Long Twentieth Century. London; Rowman & Littlefield.
  2. James Martin Center for non proliferation Studies (2008) Assessing the threat of WMDs.
  3. Security Resource (2008). Security. Wеb.
  4. Nuclear Threat Initiative, (2006). WMDs 411.
  5. The federation of American scientists (2008). Current (Terrorist) trends in the United States. Wеb.
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