The term “terrorism” is shrouded in controversy and has no universally accepted definition, perhaps because it is a highly emotive concept in world politics.
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That notwithstanding, the term is generally used to refer to deliberate violent acts intended to coerce, intimidate, and create fear based on an ideological goal targeting civilians. Terrorist acts are perpetrated clandestinely by individuals, groups, or rogue states, and this, in most of the cases outside a state of war. Terrorists carry out their heinous operations and their motivation stems from a desire to serve a particular ideological cause.
Terrorism is an “asymmetric warfare”; conflict in which the capabilities of two belligerents differ, therefore maneuvers are attempted to exploit each other’s major limitations. The “weaker” combatant in most cases attempts unconventional tactics and strategies to offset their disadvantage in quantity or quality.
There is therefore the need to employ new pragmatic foreign policy steps that promote the national interest within the broader values of international peace and security if any gains are to be realized in the fight against terrorism.
Counterterrorism goals cannot be achieved through unilateral action. Efforts should be made to bring about extensive multilateral cooperation in designing an effective strategy against terrorism (EOP, 2003). The troops should be well equipped i.e. with the provision of vital information, mobility as well as protection. Increased surveillance (intelligence), research, and development should be observed (National Security Council, 2006).
Four Priorities of Action
Denying WMD to rogue states and terrorist allies
Unequivocal demands must be made on rogue nations suspected of hiding or otherwise clandestinely procuring stockpiles of Weapons of Mass Destruction to unconditionally cooperate with UN and IAEA inspections and possible consequent disarmament programs to avoid an apocalypse as terrorists are known to stop at nothing in advancing their cause. For example; Saddam Hussein extensively deployed chemical weapons against Iran at the height of the Iran-Iraq war (Chantal, 2003).
We are currently facing an international nuclear threat owing to the acquisition of nuclear weapons and materials by rogue states in the guise of peaceful civilian nuclear energy production. The sad state of affairs should be checked through a series of denuclearization measures that are based on mutual respect if they are to bear fruits.
Preventing attacks by terrorist networks
Focusing on how to augment naval capabilities in coastal regions by increasing presence and adapting counterinsurgency operations is critical to maintaining dominance at sea. However, efforts to recapitalize the navy must be supported by a similar investment in unrivaled airpower capabilities; securing the cooperation of the private sector especially in gaining and maintaining technological edge; and investing in global information infrastructures (Chantal, 2003).
Denying terrorists the support and sanctuary of the rogue states
In October 1999 the UN Security Council slapped sanctions, both economic and travel, on Afghanistan’s Taliban regime when the latter declined to extradite bin Laden, for his alleged involvement in plotting the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
A similar fate (travel sanctions) befell some of the Sudanese top officials in April 1996 after Sudan – then considered a haven for Egyptian, Palestinian, and “Arab Afghans” terrorist networks – declined to hand over three suspects in the botched assassination of Egypt’s President Husni Mubarak (Chantal, 2003).
Denying terrorists control any nation they use as a base
There is a need for renewed dialogue with NATO and other allies to achieve greater commitment in unleashing a collective security effort geared towards addressing the goal to disrupt and annihilate al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It must be a top concern for all peace-loving nations to zealously guard against the return of terrorist regimes in the said countries. The strategy encompasses supporting fair elections by providing funds and maximizing security; training and mentoring Afghan security forces and police; strengthening Afghan institutions by providing the kind of engineers, medical officers, teachers, and agricultural specialists that are needed to provide key services that are necessary to make a difference on the ground (Lee, 2009).
In the past, the UN sanctions packages have failed to eradicate global terrorist activities, but on a positive note helped stigmatize terrorist acts by securing forceful international consensus that terrorism is illegitimate and hence should be banished through collective international action.
There must be a strong resolve to act responsibly by way of rolling out plans that will fundamentally help in the realization of peace in the troubled Middle East countries of Iraq, Israel, and Palestine because the region is geopolitically strategic in global politics. Possible lines of action include mediating ceasefires, urging the cessation of hostilities, and adopting inclusive approaches that are premised on local mechanisms and contemporary political realities of the said nations.
To effectively overcome the challenges encountered in fighting terrorism and hence furnish a means to deal with threats posed by the 21st Century terrorist organizations the government must foremost develop capabilities to disrupt and possibly dismantle potential enemies by recapitalizing current anti-terrorist operations and securing the cooperation of allies.
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Chantal de Jonge Oudraat. Combating Terrorism, Washington Quarterly, (2003); 167.
Executive Office of the President (EOP). National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, Washington, D.C., 2003.
Lee, Jesse. (2009). Afghanistan and NATO. Web.
National Security Council (2006). National Strategy for Combating Terrorism. Web.