This research paper examines the arguments for and against direct military action as an effective counterterrorism strategy. Counterterrorism debates are centered round two strategic philosophies: deterrence and a rational choice analysis of terrorism. …
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The reality is experience informs that any conceptualization or definition of terrorism reveals that it is vastly similar to peacetime war crimes.7 Today there is a growing perception that terrorism is growing more and more dangerous particularly with the aid of new technologies. Terrorists today are said to be more disorganized than in previous years and more inclined to use weapons of mass destruction and to bring about more catastrophic consequences. Moreover, it is largely believed that terrorists are comprised of “amateurs”, ad hoc and “transitory groups” with the result that “state sponsorship” is no longer necessary.8 In other words, the new structures of terrorism today make it more difficult to use traditional counterterrorism strategies to combat terrorism today. Counterterrorism Strategies Conventional Counterterrorism Strategies Before and After September 11, 2001. The complex and dangerous nature of terrorism today was demonstrated by the terror attacks in the US on September 11, 2001. Internationally, countries have come to the realization that traditional counterterrorism mechanisms are insufficient for preventing and deterring terrorism. As a result, there has been a proliferation of counterterrorism reforms, particularly in Western jurisdictions.9 Many of these reforms however, merely involved the expansion of laws that were directed at defining and prosecuting terrorism.10 Since September 11, 2001, and particularly since the terrorist bombings in Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005, counterterrorism has been among the European Union’s (EU) top policy concern. For the EU this involves balancing security against human rights. 11 The EU’s legislative measures taken in the aftermath of the...
From the research it can be comprehended that the 21st century has ushered in a new dangerous strand of terrorism. The death toll in the US on September 11, 2001 demonstrated that conventional methods of treating terrorism as a crime and dealing with it within the criminal justice system were futile. Obviously, terrorist were not deterred, but rather reenergized and committed to their political causes. Internationally, governments reformed counterterrorism approaches, but largely left terrorism within the criminal justice system. While the US and its coalition waged war against state sponsors of terrorism (Afghanistan and Iraq), terrorists and insurgents have continued to relocate and complicate the efforts of the US. The Israel experience with direct military action has also proved to be just as counterproductive as the US’s indirect military action. It would therefore appear that counterterrorism cannot be satisfactorily deterred by military action. It might be wise to focus attention on programmes that redirect the youth who are susceptible to recruitment. Providing young people with viable and legitimate alternatives appears to be the best approach to counterterrorism at far less expense to innocent civilians. Military action has proven to be just as costly to civilians and perhaps more so than terrorism. It would therefore appear that military action as an alternative counterterrorism strategy is counterproductive.
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