Since its foundation in the 1700s, the united states of amerce has thought itself as exceptional. In addition, other nations have perceived the US as largely different from them. According to Deudney and Meiser,1 America is different from other nations in the world in a number of ways. However, the most obvious is the fact that the US is by far the most successful superpower in modern times.
The US success is evident in its current exceptional position as the only superpower in the modern world.2.3 Despite its political, economic and social prowess, a number of factors such as terrorism and the go-go China currently threaten the United States of America.
Terrorism is by far the most significant threat to the stability position of the US as the world’s economic and military superpower. In fact, the nation spends massive resources in protecting itself from terrorism every year, which includes its foreign policy, international intelligence and domestic security.
According to Buzan,4 the US’s behavior in the modern world seems to be largely inclined towards protecting herself from acts of terrorism that would otherwise undermine her position as the world’s sole superpower in the modern times.
Purpose of the study
The purpose of this discussion is to find out some reasons behind the personality of terrorism and terrorist as perceived by Americans.
The paper will seek to answer the question on the actual identity of a terrorist, the implications of terrorist on American society. In addition, the discussion will attempt to determine why the global security is solely against the Al-Qaeda and Islamic organizations despite having dozens of other terrorist groups.
- What are the reasons behind the personality of the terrorist in the American perception?
- Who is the terrorist and who is not, and what kind of implications that have on the American society?
- Why is the global securitization solely against Al-Qaeda and Islamic organizations while there are dozens of other terrorist groups that are not linked to Islam globally
- Why are we concentrating on securitizing terrorism in understanding of United States interests?
Hypothesis of the study
From a critical view of US’s behavior, it is worth noting that the United States has some exceptionalsim in constructing and conceptualizing terrorism and a terrorist, and applies its own perceptions on a terrorist in its efforts to maintain the position as the world’s sole superpower.
America’s perception on the personality of a terrorist and terrorism
The question on who a terrorist is and who a terrorist is not remains an important topic of debate in the modern world. The personality of a terrorist largely lies within the society’s perception of terrorism and the past trend of terrorism in that society.
Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, the nations perception of terrorism has largely grown to demonstrate certain characteristics that are not only exceptional, but also indicates the exceptional behavior of the US in the last one decade.5.6
It is worth noting that although there are tens of other terrorist groups in various parts of the world, American definition of a terrorist brings seems to refer to extremist Islamic groups with the whole purpose of undermining America’s efforts to control the world economic, social and political system. America’s exceptional paradigm of a terrorist has grown from the 9/11 attacks on Washington and New York.
The new paradigm has developed from the Bush administration policies of total war against terrorism whose aim was to eliminate Islamic groups that were considered terrorist organizations.7
The policies created in the first bush administration were by far nearly anti-Semitic or anti-Islam; although the claim was that the policies were actually not based on religion. It is worth noting that the Bush administration put almost its entire focus on Islamic groups, yet other terrorist groups existed in other parts of the world.
America’s policies against terrorism and the need to create an international security system that would put the nation in the control of world security system seem to be largely based on the need to eliminate her threats. Of course, the most significant threat to America’s position in the world points towards terrorism and anti-Christian movements and groups in the Middle East and the Islamic world in general.
America’s foreign policies and perceptions on terrorism: Is securitization applicable on terrorism applicable for the whole world?
America’s perception of a terrorist does not necessarily explain who is and who is not a terrorist because the definition of a terrorist within the context of America is actually inclined towards the threat posed by Islamic terrorist groups such as the Al-Qaeda. Since the 9/11 attacks on Washington and New York, America’s perception towards terrorism took a turn, with all efforts being directed towards the elimination of Al-Qaeda.
For instance, consider the March 2003 attacks on Iraq. Although the United States claim was based on the need to eliminate Sadaam Hussein’s funding and support to terrorist groups, and particularly the Al-Qaeda, the disapproval of a possible military intervention in Iraq was supported by a number of world nations within the wide context of the United Nations Security Council.
However, the US displayed her exceptionalism by ignoring the warning by the UN and proceeding with the attacks, even though there was little evidence of Iraq’s support to world terrorism.
From a critical analysis of America’s perception of a terrorist, it is worth noting that the terrorist according to America’s definition is a ‘person acting as an agent of or on behalf of extremist Islamic groups whose aim is to threaten the position of the US as the sole political, social and economic superpower’. Within the perception of the United States, any person acting in this manner must be considered a terrorist.
However, the definition created by the United States does not necessarily explain who is not a terrorist. In fact, it is not appropriate to consider America’s definition of terrorist as leaving out other non-Islamic groups, but the America’s perception seems to be largely based on its position as an exceptional society.8
For instance, America was founded on a basis that was largely Christian, specifically Protestant and with strong Calvinist and Puritan beliefs. Such beliefs position America and a Christian society and with Christian principles, which perhaps explains where the country’s anti-Islamic acts are based on when it comes to fight against world terrorism.
Impact of America’s exceptional position on terrorism on world securitization and global understanding of security system
So, why is the global securitization against Al-Qaeda and Islamic organizations while tens of other terrorist groups exist? In addition, why is the world concentrating on securitization terrorism within the understanding of the United States? The answers to these questions lie within the wide context of America’s exceptionalism and its position as the sole superpower in the modern world.
Globalization of intelligence took a new beginning after the 9/11 attacks on the US. American became more and more interested in taking a central role in the process of globalization of securitization. In particular, America’s intelligence and international relation have largely been based on the nation’s need to control fight terrorism, especially the Al-Qaeda.
Most efforts by the United States to create international relations and understanding have largely been focused towards the Middle East. According to Svendsen9, America’s 21st century foreign policies have developed close relationships with a number of nations in the world, but the main aim seem to be the need to control terrorism.
For instance, the relationship between the United States and some Muslim nations such as UAE, Qatar, Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have are based on the understanding that Islamic extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda are a great threat to the presence of the United States in these nations.
Secondly, America’s efforts to develop close relationships with other western nations, particularly Britain and other nations in the European Union, are largely based on the need to develop an American understanding and perceptions of terrorism within these nations and from it, gain the required support in dealing with the threat associated with terrorism.
These facts that tend to explain why every nation with a close relationship with the United States takes serious America’s stand on security and terrorist issues. It appears that these nations have taken the perception that Al-Qaeda is a real threat to their economies, societies and the security system.
It is evident that almost the entire world has adopted the American way of thinking, which America applies in its efforts to play the most crucial rule of controlling the process of globalization of securitization.
Buzan , Barry. American Exceptionalism and September 11: Understanding the Behavior of the Sole Superpower. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.
Deudney, Daniel and Jeffery Meiser. American exceptionalism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.
Patman, Robert. “Globalization, the New US Exceptionalism and the War on Terror.” Third World Quarterly 27 (2008): 963-986
Svendsen, Adam. “The Globalization of Intelligence since 9/11: Frameworks and Operational Parameters.” Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 21 (2008): 129-144
1 Daniel Deudney and Jeffery Meiser, American exceptionalism, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 2-4
2 Robert Patman “Globalization, the New US Exceptionalism and the War on Terror,” Third World Quarterly 27 (2008): 964
3 Barry Buzan, American Exceptionalism and September 11: Understanding the Behavior of the Sole Superpower, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), 12-19
4 Buzan, 13
5 Patman 965
6 Deudney and Meiser 3
7 Buzan 14
8 Patman 967
9 Adam Svendsen, The Globalization of Intelligence since 9/11: Frameworks and Operational Parameters,” Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 21 (2008): 129