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Terrorism in the United States

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It has come to the notice of the general public in America as well as other relevant stakeholders that the issue of terrorism is central to them. There is need for the government through it various arms and in conjunction with international organization as well as other countries to join hands and curb the menace. Although there is no definition of the term terrorism that is agreed globally and legally binding, for the sake of this research paper the following definition will be adopted; “violent acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for a religious, political or ideological goal, deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants (civilians), and are committed by non-government agencies” (Townshend, 2002: p. 3). Additionally activities that are unlawful and violent as well as war a times refer to terrorism.

The concept of terrorism especially international terrorism do threaten U.S those close to it its interest as well as the entire world. For that matter it is paramount to defeat perpetrators and this can be achieved in part by developing sound policies and regulations. The paper will thus seek to bring to light a brief history of terrorism attack in America to date. Similarly, the central point of discussion I the controversy brought forth by the policies as well as other kinds of responses to curbing the problem. The dilemmas as a result of adopting such policies are clearly discussed and analyzed.

Terrorism attack

It has been agreed by scholars that terrorism activities are as a result of a number of motivation effects. Americans have suffered a number of very serious terrorism attacks. A brief chronological of the events are brought to the lime light in the research paper. Although U.S experienced terrorism acts as back as 1800, the focus will be from the 19th centaury. In 1920 a TNT bomb that was planted in horse wagon in Wall Street in New York killed 35 individuals while hundreds were seriously injured. 55 years later in the same State where a bomb was set in Fraunces Tavern exploded and killed 4 people injuring 50 others. A suspect from Puerto Rico claimed responsibility. In 1979 radical student of Iran origin seized the U.S embassy taking 66 individuals as hostages.

In 1980s, the incidences of terrorism target to U.S and its citizen was greater as compared to 1990s. Among the notable incidences in these periods include CIA shooting in 1993Centennial Olympic Park Bombing back in 1996 among others. In 2000s, the notable terrorism attacks in clued the 2000 New York terror attack, 2001 September 11 attack by Al-Qaeda and the Ford Hood Shooting in 2009. Statistic reveal that it was in this period that the incidences of terrorism attacked escalated from the previous 2 decades. From 2010 to date there have been three major terrorism attacks. These include an incident in February concerning Stack Joseph who flew a plane to an IRS building in Texas, in September the same years, 2010Lee James wore explosive and armed with a gun took hostages in Maryland but was later shot by the authorities. More recently, January 2011there were three packages of detonate in a room that handles mails. There were no serious injuries recorded.  

Response in curbing problem

According to Bassiouni, 2002 there are various ways of curbing terrorism and can be broadly categorized into the following; targeted laws, criminal procedures, deportation as well as police power that are enhanced, target hardening for instance using locks, traffic barriers, military action deemed preemptive or reactive, improved and increased rates of surveillance and intelligence, humanitarian activities deemed to be preemptive and using a more permissive interrogation as well as detention policies. The analysis of the paper will focus on policies aimed at curbing the problem; this can be from political, economic as well a social policies.

Although economic sanction can work in helping curb the issue of terrorism, the negative implications of the same usually make one to think twice before supporting such an initiative. It is evident that when the ‘enemy’ is denied access to economic muscles, he/she will definitely be weak and not in a position to continue supporting violence against another country. Similarly, if a country is subjected to such a sanction, it is the assumption of the imposer that the country in question will comply by acting accordingly. However experience has shown that such a move which is in the view of the majority is aggressive has turned out to make things worse. For instance the relationship between Cuba and America has been very bad for the past 45 years (Bassiouni, 2002). Additionally a sanction against Iraqi which has been in existence for about 8 years has suffocated the country’s economy. The result of this is that majority of Iraqi people are poorer and before the death of Saddam, he was enjoying power at the expense of the civilians. A closer examination of the issues clearly depicts that the policies does not target the real culprits of terrorism.

On the same note, the desire to combat terrorism is challenged by the conflicting goals as well as courses of action to be taken. It is worth noting that there are also policies developed by the government to engage the military in curbing the problem. Although this mechanism has been used, the cost-benefit analysis of military force leaves people to debate with no solution. According to Tsu, winning 100 victories in 100 battles is not an acme of skill but winning 100 victories in 100 battles without engaging the enemy in a fight is an acme of skill (Griffith, 1963). This depicts that not going to physical war but rather engaging in other activities to subdue the enemy is key. It is no doubt that the amount of money used to finance a military force for instance the one that fought in Iraqi used billions of dollars. As if that was not enough the majority of civilians and even American soldiers that lost their lives although arguably help combat the problem, other methods could have attain the same even more efficiently (CRS Report for Congress. 2007).  

It is worth noting that the imposed sanctions not only hurt the targeted countries’ economies but also that of America. A case in point is the sanction to Iran. The embargo tremendously made fuel pumps to go up. Additionally, the American oils forms felt the heat of the sanction.  Ultimately, these sanction in spite of hampering the countries’ economies; it also creates bad blood between the affected countries as well as the friends and friends of these countries in question. The end result is unimaginable as there will be alliances of a number of countries in one side trading accusation and counter accusation on a given issue. This can at last cause a major problem like the one that happened during the first and second world war (Tanter, 1998).  A typical example is what happened in Afghanistan where about 400 civilians were killed in close to 11 different areas. This kind of mishap brings about anger against the country that initiated the attack. It is estimated that before going to war in Iraq the Congress approved a budget that was about $437 billion in 2006 financial year It is worth noting that the aim of terrorism attacks towards America I to bring the country on its knees in terms of economy.

Considering the fact that America is a democratic country, it faces dilemma in its quest to curbing terrorism. Striking a balance between offering security to the citizens and limiting the freedom of person and at the same time ensuring that the constitutional rights of individuals are upheld is one of the greatest dilemmas facing the relevant authorities (White, 2003). Additionally, the whole effort of combating terrorism has been made more complex by the concept of globalization which is characterized by open boarders, interdependence economy, higher degree of interconnectedness, and deregulation. Strictly speaking, it has proved to be a headache for those who make policies to correctly identify perpetrators of terrorist attack, trainers, funders as well as others who provide support for committing such an act.

As suggested by Stuntz, 2002 technological innovations have been thought and advocated to be a powerful tool in helping America fight terrorism especially international one. Since technology has been used by terrorists to recruit and communicate with their members, the only way to counter this is to have in place a more sophisticated communication tool. With such an initiative, it will be possible to counter the international communication between the perpetrators. It is worth remembering that the American government through the PATRIOT Act made it possible for the law enforcers as well as FBI to tap telephone conversation, carrying out searches and seizures as well as using detention.  However, although this was thought to help in curbing the problem issues of concern especially based on the fourth amendment of the American constitution brought another set of dilemma. It was unconstitutional to infringe on peoples telephone conversation, searching and seizing thing from them. The whole issue revolved around privacy (Balousek & Kirsch, 1997).

Other policies used by US in curbing terrorism

After realization that sing military forces as well as economic sanction are not the only option, other options were sought after. It is worth noting that these options were incorporated in executing the two previously mentioned ones, economic sanction and military force. These include public diplomacy. This can be achieved by using media to mobilize views of the public with regards to other countries and pressure their government to engage in action aimed at curbing terrorism. On the same note using economic inducement has been put in practice. This was initiated with the belief that it will help in encouraging corporation between nations that fight terrorism. Additionally covert action where individuals are sent to another country or other location to defuse terrorism action can be tool to help curb the problem however, if the individuals are realized to be carrying out covert activities, and then the countries involved will develop bad relation which is very difficult to mend. Using rewards for information program has proved to be a promising initiative CRS Report for Congress. (2007). This has been extensively used in Columbia. In the U.S it made it possible for the offender who shot a CIA person brought to books.


From the review of terrorism in the United States, it is evident that the history dates back in 18 century. Concerning the trend of these attacks, 2000s was the period in which there was a sharp rise of terrorism attacks although not matching those that happened in late early 70s to 80s. although there are various mechanisms used by the American government to curb the problem, which include; targeted laws, criminal procedures, deportation as well as police power that are enhanced, target hardening for instance using locks, traffic barriers, military action deemed preemptive or reactive, improved and increased rates of surveillance and intelligence, humanitarian activities deemed to be preemptive and using a more permissive interrogation as well as detention policies.

Economic sanction has more negative implication as it sabotages the economies of the involved countries. It is also evident that dilemma arise when the government tries to employ other methods such as technology. Issues arising include the constitutional rights of individuals. There is thus need to create a balance when using the various methods; this can be attained by lets say using reward system, public democracy among others.

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