Terrorism How Have Worries Over WMD Terror Essay


Terrorism How have worries over WMD terror attacks distorted a balanced approach to policy on terrorism?

Intelligence failures led to the presumption that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (Jervis).[footnoteRef:1] The presumption was rooted in a widespread policy playing upon mortal fears, rather than on reason. "Although administration officials exaggerated the danger that Saddam posed, they also revealed their true fears when they talked about the possibility that he could use WMD against the United States or its allies," (Jervis, p. 57).[footnoteRef:2] It also "made little difference" that Saddam was shown to have no WMDs (Jervis, p. 57).[footnoteRef:3] Therefore, the approach to policy on terrorism has been overtly shaped by fear mongering rather than on intelligence. [1: Jervis, Robert, 2005.] [2: Jervis, Robert, 2005, p. 57] [3: Jervis, Robert, 2005, p. 57]

At the same time, policy on terrorism is always going to entail some type of trade-off between preparing for the worst possible scenario (eg. WMDs aimed at the United States and its allies), and encouraging the best possible scenario, however, unlikely (eg. The elimination of terrorist networks). Fears often to play themselves out in the real world, and not just on the screen during a Jerry Bruckheimer movie. Terrorism is real, and as Pillar puts it, the goal of counter-terrorism is not necessarily to save the maximum number of lives but to create a long-term solution to the problem.

Fear has also served as a justifiable means to an end. When viewed from a utilitarian and consequentialist ethical stance, the use of fear works as an underlying motivator for anti-terrorism policy creation and the public policy support thereof. As Sageman points out, Americans have beefed up airport security measures, and encourage their neighbors to the North to do the same. Ordinary citizens are more alert and...


107).[footnoteRef:4] Europe, on the other hand, has had less success developing a feasible counter-terrorism approach with its lack of coordination within the Schengen zone. [4: Sageman, M., 2008, p. 107]
However, a balanced approach to policy on terrorism does not have to be built on nebulous information or Hollywood imagery of death and destruction. In light of th second Gulf War, it is clear that the European response, however lax it may seem to the Americans, represents balace. A balanced approach is rooted in evidence, intelligence, and practicality. As Sageman states, Americans were misled not just about the presence of WMDs in Iraq but also about the presence of jihadist sleeper cells in the United States (p. 106).[footnoteRef:5] The terrorist attacks of September 11 represented gross institutional failures to enact anti-terrorism policies that would have identified the 9/11 attackers better (Sageman)[footnoteRef:6]. [5: Sageman, M. 2008, p. 106] [6: Sageman, M., 2008]

Still, the fears over WMDs have created a scenario whereby the public expects a policy of terrorism that is built on preparation for the worst-case scenario. Fears have altered public attitudes, consumer behaviors, and social norms. Moroever, counter-terrorism is expensive. In a resource-limited landscape, counter-terrorism measures should be finely honed, and well crafted. Counter-terrorism could be built on improved intelligence and institutional coordination, leading to robust responses to perceived and actual threats. Fears about WMDs can be mitigate by the hard facts, which would create sound long-term solutions to the problem.

(2) How do the current trends in terrorism affect the United States?

The Unrestricted Warfare Symposium report "Global Salafi Terrorist Networks" presents a disturbing picture of the current trends in terrorist ideology and social patterns.…

Sources Used in Documents:


"Global Salafi Terrorist Networks." Unrestricted Warfare Symposium. March 1-415, 2006.

Jervis, Robert, 2005. American Foreign Policy in a New Era. New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis.

Pillar, Paul. R, 2001. Terrorism and U.S. Foreign Policy. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

Sageman, M., 2008. Leaderless Jihad. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

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