The War on Terrorism
Terrorism has over the years been known as a form of retaliation, used by various parties against their governments or the international community. In most cases, the perpetrators consider their actions as a cry for justice although the international community agrees that this is not the best way to voice grievances and dissatisfaction. It thus follows that the global authorities have united against the vice. The war on terror started out with the definition of the vice in 1989 when the US decided that by definition, terrorism is a ‘premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non combatant targets by sub national or clandestine agents’. This definition implies that to the US government, terrorism is when the attack is directed towards non combatant targets. This paper analyses the global war on terrorism with particular emphasis on the approach that United States, as a global power has taken confront terrorism. In this respect, the paper elucidates the history of terrorism in the United States and the efforts that the United States government and the world in general have put in place combat terror. Finally, the paper offers recommendations on how the world should handle terror activities.
In the US, the first count of terror can be traced back to 1978 when Ted Kaczynski sent over 16 bombs through the mail in his retaliation against the technological advancements that had engulfed the nation and the rest of the world (Gray, Jacqueline & Wilson 23). Moreover, while he was not caught until 1995, his is the first case of terrorism by legal definition in the US. Since then, it can be seen that there have been landmark efforts against the war on terror including the first piece of legislation that was the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 (Gray, Jacqueline & Wilson 26).
When considering the war on terrorism, the main underlying fact is that in some parts of the world terrorism is considered as heroism as it is a way of addressing the oppressors who are otherwise unreachable through the dialogue options. This means that for every act of terrorism perpetrated against the US, there must be a cause that triggered or justified it in the eyes of the perpetrators. The first car bomb for example, by Buda was as retaliation for the incarceration of his Italian comrades by the US government (Sandler 670). This means that before responding to an act of terror, it may be helpful to understand why it took place thus to resolve the problem from its root. Sometimes, flashing out and punishing the perpetrators does not really solve the problem as new supporters tend to rise and fight for the same cause afterwards. Another important factor here is that the perpetrators of terrorism work as networks in different countries and scattered all over the world. This makes them very effective in terms of intelligence and coordination of their attacks.
So far, there have been a lot of conflicting views on the war on terror with the most significant one being where the Republicans opt for forceful measures like invading Iraq and ousting Saddam Hussein while the Democrats advocate for long term solutions like the reconstruction of Iraq in order to restore the country’s dignity and stability (Smith 13). The need to handle the problem in its entirety is far more practical and effective than the use of force thus implying that indeed, ‘there is no military solution to Iraq’. The nation needs a cloud of change politically, socially and economically thus the only way to end their connection with terrorism is to act as an enabler in this transformation, while according due respect to the rights and freedoms of the Iraqis and their sovereignty.
The current issue in terrorism is the ongoing problem in Iraq and its Syrian connection. The present policies that have been proposed include invading Syria as the headquarter of the IS and rooting them out, pulling the military troops from Iraq and only sending in advisers to help the government in restructuring the nation’s security forces and political environment, and joining the UN to restructure both Syria and Iraq seeing as the two countries have their fates intertwined in as far as the terrorism connection is concerned. Each proposal here has a different outcome. If Syria is invaded, innocent civilians are likely to die in the bombings as the terrorists leave amongst the civilians and drone bombings will not allow the bombs to discriminate in their destruction. Also, finishing off the leadership of IS does not guarantee an end to the organization’s activities since these organizations tend to grow new heads as was the case with Al Qaeda. Restructuring Iraq is on the other hand rather incomplete as a quest to finish terrorism considering that Syria is also heavily involved on the cause of the Iraqi conflict. Thus bringing order to Iraq while Syria remains in chaos would imply that the terrorists can still attack at will given their close proximity. The third policy however provides a lasting solution in that the two nations are allowed to get rid of their sectarian leadership thus ending the oppression that is causing the conflicts in the first place. As stated earlier, terrorism is often as retaliation and once there is nothing to retaliate on then the countries will be calm and the international community will enjoy relative peace again (Smith 32).
The issue of surveillance by the NSA is also a rather contentious problem in as afar as the war on terror is concerned. There has been some friction on the issue but the policy was to spy on people in order to root out the terrorists before they attack the public. The outcome here is that the government will be able to observe and gather evidence to get the suspicious characters into custody or even out of the country before they could do any harm to the citizens.
The war on terrorism became an issue before the passing of the first legislation against biological weapons in 1989 (Smith 46). The cases of terrorism were randomly increasing and there was a growing need to counter them within the US particularly. At the time however, terrorism was mainly in a domestic context as the Middle East was yet to start retaliating against the West. The cause for concern here was the ease with which people were being killed within the context of anti government retaliations. Since this moment, the US government has been fully active on the terrorism front with respect to the legislative and judicial arms of government. The judicial arm has been looking to ensure that terrorists are tried and sentenced according to their crimes within the US laws. The legislative arm has on the other hand been working to ensure that the laws have no loopholes that can be exploited in defending these terrorists or allowing them in and out of the country. In order to achieve this, these arms of government have been working together with Congressional committees and cabinet departments like those of defense and homeland security as well as foreign policies among others.
While considering the issue of the war on terrorism, the laws involved are those that separate terrorists from other criminals. The Republicans opt that the terrorists should be treated like other criminals and incarcerated within a criminal justice system that offers them a chance to rehabilitate. This however has been highly refuted by the Democrats along with the general public seeing as terrorists are being treated very differently within the justice system (Jenkins 53). Their sentences are often much heavier and their incarceration more secure than that of a regular homicide convict. They are also not really covered by the concept of constitutional rights although they are not necessarily violated in the hands of the law.
The major constitutional issues however in as far as the war on terror is concerned would be in connection to privacy. In order to protect the American public from terrorist attacks, it was agreed that public surveillance and community policing were the best way to go. This changed the definition of privacy within the US constitution and although the matter is still being debated in various circles, it must be noted that the need to undertake surveillance is paramount to the war on terror (Smelse 76). However, it infringes on the citizens’ rights to privacy seeing as they have to be under the surveillance of the government at all times. This is however a small price to pay considering the need to avoid the severe outcomes of the terrorist attacks in the US.
On the issue of privacy, the Democrats and the Republicans seem to have reached a point where they agree. Initially, the Democrats were against the surveillance practices by the NSA while the Republicans supported it as a practical anti-terror practice (Smelse 68). Then the tides changed and the Democrats started supporting it while the Republicans were opposed to it. Today, both sides agree that privacy is a small price to pay for the safety and security of an entire nation. Nevertheless, still a few people are still partisan on both sides, still undecided on whether the cost is worth the benefit.
In as far as the future of surveillance is concerned; I believe that the definition of privacy will not include staying away from surveillance but rather simply being away from government interference except for cases where one is considered to be on the wrong side of the anti terrorism laws. The general public has been interested in the idea that their privacy is about to be compromised but for the sake of their safety and security, they have come to accept the facts related to the issue.
At the State level, some states remain opposed to putting up surveillance on their citizens despite the fact that the federal government is already on board with the project. Owing to the sensitivity of the privacy issue, it can be stated that some elections have been lost and others won based on the views help with respect to the question of to spy or not to spy on the citizens. But as the campaigns take place and the public gets educated on the policies, they support the idea of surveillance as they too would like to live in a safe environment.
The policy that is in question here is the one on how to tackle the current IS problem. The sovereignty of the Iraqi nation is just as important as the restoration of peace and political stability in the region. This means that when choosing a solution, it is very crucial to consider a lasting solution that will not undermine the democratic rights of the Iraqi citizen. Considering the outcomes of all the options discussed in the background section, it is important to note that the involvement of the entire international community in an advisory and supportive capacity is the best way to handle this conflict. This can be justified by considering the circumstances of the Iraqi problem whereby the sectarian leadership is what created the civil unrest that was later fueled by the involvement of the IS on a terrorist capacity. The need to involve the international community, not to fight the IS but rather to reform the country in a way that will generate peace and stability and eliminate the motivation for anti government protests and attacks is hereby elaborated.
The Iraqi government needs the international community to stabilize them through security and political advice. This way, the Iraqi people will be lead by the people they choose but with the support of not the US, the UK, France or Russia, but rather the entire international community through the UN. Stabilizing this country will have the effect of eliminating the internal conflicts that come from dividing the nation through biased development among other things.
Also, the third policy advocates for a similar undertaking in Syria. The Syrian people have been suffering the same fate as the Iraqis thus the rising of the IS which also extends its rather violent advocacy methods to their brothers in Iraq. As such, in order to make them irrelevant in the region it is important to handle the situation in both nations and create an environment of peace and prosperity that cannot tolerate terrorist tendencies. This way, the international community will have solved the Iraq war and the Syrian crisis with one policy. The condition here however is the involvement of the international community, as there is no single country that can go into Syria and Iraq without raising suspicion over their long term goals.