The frequency of terrorist attacks against the United States of America is increasing. According to Bakker (2012), it is unclear whether or not the reason for this is the ineffectiveness of the strategies currently employed to deal with this crime. Despite various efforts made by the US government, attacks against local and foreign targets affiliated to the country are on the rise. Attempts to counter the attacks have proven to be a nightmare to the government (Bakker, 2012). The tactics used by the terrorists to carry out the attacks and to identify their target victims make it difficult to comprehend the factors behind the crime.
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It appears that the strategies used by the US government to deal with current and future terrorism have borne no or little fruits. One of the earliest attacks against the country occurred during the bombing of the American barracks in Beirut (Blitz, 2013). The attack took place in 1983. The government responded by withdrawing its troops from Lebanon. One of the worst cases of terror against the country was the attack on September 11th, 2001. After the attack, again the government responded by withdrawing its soldiers from Saudi Arabia. The withdrawal was completed two years after the incident. A critical analysis of these terror attacks and the responses from the government reveals that a new strategy is needed to deal with the crime.
In this paper, the author will address the strategies used by the US government to combat future terrorism. The paper analyzes the strategies used to deal with both domestic and international terrorism. A set of new policy frameworks to address this menace is recommended. The recommended strategies include increasing government powers, future legislations, and constitutional amendments. Others are socio-economic strategies to determine the impacts of future attacks against the US.
International and Domestic Terrorism: What Constitutes the Greatest Threat against the United States
Governments and other stakeholders have made efforts aimed at understanding how terrorists work and operate (Goepner, 2016). However, most efforts to understand the motivation behind terrorist attacks are futile. It is this complication that creates a bleak future for the global war against terror attacks. Terrorism has remained a major concern for the United States and other countries for over fifteen years now. The governments have tested and used many strategies to combat future terrorism. The strategies include, among others, constitutional amendments to give governments more powers to deal with national security. Others are reforms on justice systems and a focus on socio-economic development. Other security measures entail improvements made in surveillance systems, collection, and use of intelligence, as well as the adoption of technology (Goepner, 2016).
Terrorism against US targets takes two major forms. The attacks are either domestic or international. Currently, domestic terrorism constitutes the greatest threat to the country’s national security (Bamidele, 2016). The international threat has reduced significantly after the democratization efforts in various countries around the world. Such countries include Iraq, Afghanistan, and other Arab nations (Bamidele, 2016). The focus of the terrorists has shifted to the infiltration of the American populace. The criminals take advantage of the racial and economic woes of the people to appeal to their sympathizers. The efforts leave homeland security vulnerable to the attacks. In 2016, the Homeland Security Committee explained that terror attacks against the US homeland have doubled (Goepner, 2016). The report further says that homegrown jihadist plots have serious consequences on national security. The threat posed by these groups is higher than that from other entities operating outside the country. The attacks that have taken place in Orlando, Boston, Fort Hood, and other places are not random. On the contrary, they are systematic attacks against the US government (Bakker, 2012).
According to Sandler (2014), terrorists radicalize the youth and use them to further their attacks in the country. The criminals have significant influence over these recruits. They act as affiliates who impose their ideologies on the new criminals. Al Qaeda, for example, has infiltrated the local population in various states in America. It has co-opted other Islamic groups to enhance their strength. As Spindlove and Simonsen (2013) explain, terrorists have a history of penetrating local communities. They use the locals to further their ideologies in the country. Their strategy depends on their ability to appeal to their sympathizers and other disadvantaged groups in society. As a result, they can establish firm foundations within the nation. Groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda are believed to have military personnel recruited and developed in the US. They are even able to infiltrate the government in some states. To this end, they engage in trade to raise revenue through taxation. Their strength and power increase from the financial gains they make. Consequently, they can subcontract their operations from within (Goepner, 2016).
Policy failures are some of the reasons why domestic terrorism poses a major threat to national security compared to acts of terror from outside the country’s borders (Martin, 2012). Most of the strategies used by the government seem to be one-sided. To this end, the authorities concentrate on defeating the terrorists. They ignore other core issues related to terrorism, such as socio-economic factors. Terrorists are known to thrive in areas with stagnated economic growth. They also operate in areas characterized by alienated social welfare and autocracy. Ignoring these issues enhances the threat posed by domestic terrorism in the US. Santifort, Sandler, and Brandt (2013) attribute the increase in cases of domestic terrorism against the US to the vulnerability of the American public. The vulnerability poses increases the probability of diverse attacks compared to transnational threats. Santifort et al. (2013) add that counterterrorism should be heightened in the US. The government should shift its focus from fighting terror groups in foreign countries and concentrate on the terrorists operating from American soil.
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Strategies that can be used by the Government to Prevent Future Terrorist Attacks against the United States
Terrorists are highly adaptive and are known to use technology to carry out their crimes. They also rely on social space to identify their victims and target audience. Governments, on the other hand, rely on bureaucracy to counter-terrorist actions. The efforts are not only futile but also ineffective. Statistics show that out of the 2.5 million soldiers sent to fight in foreign countries, 6874 of them have been killed (Bamidele, 2016). Also, over $4.4 trillion has been spent in the last fifteen years to facilitate the war against terror (Goepner, 2016). Despite the use of such resources, the effectiveness of the strategies used to fight the war against terror seems to have diminished. Goepner (2016) argues that the number of dollars spent and the number of dead soldiers cannot be equated to the results achieved by the government. On the contrary, Americans need to feel safe.
The government should provide tangible results by using dependable strategies. More robust and result-oriented approaches should be adopted. For instance, the government should combine military power with soft power to deal with present and future terrorism. Martin (2012) is of the view that the use of force to detain, arrest, and search premises stains the reputation of the police. Such strategies also infringe on the rights and liberties of the citizens. At times, the individuals whose rights are interfered with may become sympathizers (Santifort et al., 2013).
The battle of ideas can also be used to deal with future terrorism in the US. It is proven that appeal to the public through relevant information helps in fighting terrorism. The public responds positively to fair treatment and “show of cause” (Santifort et al., 2013). The Homeland Security Committee supports the use of “moral clarity with a purpose” as a soft power strategy to deal with terrorism (Goepner, 2016). Understanding one’s enemy makes it easier to counteract the propaganda they use. It is clear that if the information provided is coupled with similar appeals to the public, the approach may turn out to be an advantage to the government. It is then recommended that the government should use information from the battlefield to show the agonizing life of citizens living under a jihadist rule. The propaganda can also be used to show the losses incurred by the terrorists. The radicalization of the sympathizers can then be avoided by the use of alternative ways of repression. Such alternative strategies are effective when it comes to the protection of human dignity. The counter-messages have been proven to appeal to both the public and the sympathizers (Sandler, 2014).
Another use of soft power is the application of modernized surveillance. It includes the use of modern technology, such as drones. Drone video monitoring makes surveillance easy and reliable. Exquisite intelligence collection from various social platforms is another strategy that can be used to fight domestic and international terrorism (Martin, 2012). The approach makes counter-reaction dependable because of the real-time information provided to security officers. Terrorists have perfected the use of social media to radicalize and recruit the younger generation. They also survey the government strategies that are available online (Santifort et al., 2013). For a successful counter-reaction against their online activities, thorough and exquisite surveillance on all media spaces should be carried out. Recruitment of informants, rolling out of community policing, and other forms of intelligence collection and utilization should be emphasized. For better results, customized police training and capacity building should be encouraged. Ultimately, the protection of borders and maintaining homeland security should be made a priority.
The weakening of the terrorists is another way of winning this war. In 2016, the Homeland Security Committee suggested the shutting down of all proliferation pathways (Goepner, 2016). The strategy can be implemented in many ways. The most effective way should involve severing the conduits used by terrorists to receive funding and weapons. Such a move weakens the operations of these groups. Besides, the socio-economic empowerment of vulnerable groups should be heightened. The stabilization of this group takes away the idle generation that can be radicalized easily by the terrorists. According to Spindlove and Simonsen (2013), the root cause of terrorism is the economic imbalances in the country. Addressing the needs of the people and promoting social justice is an effective strategy that can be used to deal with radicalization. Another application of soft power is through the use of the justice system. Imposing tough regulations on immigration and putting checks on the borders can also be used. Also, stiff sentences against “non-patriotic influences” are recommended (Blitz, 2013).
Socio-Economic Empowerment versus Military Action in the Fight against Terrorism
As illustrated by Santifort et al. (2013), the use of offensive military action in the fight against terrorism has achieved little success. The system has been used since the 9/11 attack. However, it has met rebellion from the public and the terrorists alike. The extent of collateral damage has raised questions on the effectiveness of this strategy. The outcry from human rights’ crusaders against the violation of rights is another setback. According to Sandler (2014), the reputation of the government is at stake whenever force is used. The confidence the public has in the government reduces and the issues to do with human rights arise. After measuring the effectiveness of these military strategies, Goepner (2016) concludes that the results are anything but impressive. Resources are lost amid the fight with fewer achievements to show for it. Consequently, there should be a change in the strategies used.
Socio-economic assessments show that people living under low life conditions are vulnerable to radicalization. Terrorists target the groups that they can easily influence. Their target audience is made up of those people whose support they wish to gain. They include government officials who can guarantee financial support and a political space conducive for the terrorist actions. The other target group is made up of the individuals meant to be radicalized. They are promised financial favors and other benefits. They are also reminded of the oppression and neglect of the government (Santifort et al., 2013).
An example is the Boko Haram invasion in the northeast region of Nigeria (Bamidele, 2016). Long-term implementation of socio-economic development strategies is effective in Nigeria. Major improvements have been realized since the initiation of this approach. Human development, civic education, and situation awareness are necessary for combating social influence. According to Bamidele (2016), most domestic terrorist groups rely on the young and the uneducated to support their activities. Coupled with surveillance and intelligence, socioeconomic empowerment proves effective in dealing with terrorism.
Future Legislation and Constitutional Amendments in the Fight against Terror
The US government has passed various legislations since the 9/11 attack. Police and law enforcement officers demanded changes in laws to allow for thorough surveillance. The introduction of the Fourth Amendment Act marked the beginning of constitutional reforms (Blitz, 2013). The law allowed police officers to effectively fight terrorism. It enabled the use of drones, GPs tracking, and private search to keep the citizens safe. After the Boston Marathon bombings, the need for serious security systems was made apparent (Blitz, 2013). However, the Fourth Amendment suffered a major setback. The public outcry led to the introduction of the Freedom Act of 2015. It limited the use of surveillance without a warrant.
The amendments followed the overhaul of the criminal justice system used in the American courts. There were changes made on penalties imposed on terror-related cases. It was believed that tough penalties would deter citizens from engaging in domestic terrorism (Goepner, 2016). According to the Homeland Security Committee, currently, the US government does not have an integrated detention and interrogation policy to deal with terror (Goepner, 2016). As such, it is important to put in place legislation and constitutional amendments that can compensate for the loss of intelligence.
Impacts of Increasing the Powers of the Federal Government in Combating Future Terrorism
It is important to check the powers of the federal government in the sustained fight against terror. However, despite the efforts and compromises made by the central government, the fight against terrorism appears to be losing steam. As such, the conspicuous presence and involvement of the federal government in decision making are required (Goepner, 2016). The authorities are in touch with the citizens and understand their jurisdictions. Granting them more powers will help them to protect the citizens. As Goepner (2016) notes, the terrorism problem requires a political solution. It is noted that most officials in central and federal governments are political appointees. As such, their input is needed to win this war. Congress should implement laws to enable swift decision making with regards to the fight against terror.
Increasing Government Powers and its Impacts on the Erosion of Civil Liberties
The federal government makes decisions touching on domestic and international terrorism. Increasing the powers of this organ will help the officials identify potential terrorists and their allies. Terrorists thrive in areas characterized by lawlessness (Martin, 2012). They exploit the political woes and religious grievances of the local population. The central government should have the power to maintain law and provide a peaceful political space. However, the use of brute force is not worth the potential erosion of civil liberties. As stated earlier, efforts that appear to oppress the public can lead to rebellion (Goepner, 2016).
The Future of Terrorism in the United States
The future of terrorism in the country is bleak and complex. The government seems not to understand the motivations behind terrorist attacks. The wrong tactics used in the last fifteen years are still applied today. Despite the lack of success, the strategies have not changed. The current Donald Trump administration appears to have reintroduced the offensive military strategy. Santifort et al. (2013) suggest that governments should first understand the motives and goals of the terrorists. A combination of military and soft powers is the best way forward. Sandler (2014) suggests that courting the communities vulnerable to radicalization should be the first step in the fight against terrorism. It allows for the collection of intelligence and enables the government to address the socio-economic differences. The failure of the current administration to use soft powers may increase the frequency of attacks against the US in the future.
Terrorism is a global phenomenon. The US and other countries should come together and identify the best approaches to deal with these attacks. Regional partners are necessary for the provision of security that is needed to complement the efforts of the US forces. Understanding the logic used by terrorists should be encouraged. The understanding is then followed by the implementation of strategies that are reliable and dependable. The use of military and soft powers should be embraced. Also, the government should make efforts to address the socio-economic factors that are behind terrorism. Finally, the use of modern technology should also be prioritized.
Goepner, E. (2016). Learning from today’s wars: Measuring the effectiveness of America’s war on terror. Parameters, 46(1), 107-120.
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Goepner (2016) discusses the efforts made by the American government to fight terrorism. The information was obtained through an empirical assessment of the efforts made by the government in the fight against terror. Goepner (2016) found that strategies have achieved mixed levels of success. The article contributes to studies on terrorism by highlighting the need for a standard measure of effectiveness to achieve the desired results. The article is relevant to the current study as it highlights the gaps and inefficiencies of strategies used in combating terror.
Bakker, E. (2012). Forecasting Terrorism: The need for a more systematic approach. Journal of Strategic Security, 5(4), 69-84.
Bakker (2012) is the director of the Centre for Terrorism and Counterterrorism. In this article, Bakker (2012) analyzes the best strategies that can be used to end terror. The author analyzed over sixty scholarly publications explaining how the US can end terrorism. Bakker (2012) found a lack of clear methodologies and theoretical models that can inform the future of terrorism. The article contributes to the terrorism field by highlighting the need for a coordinated approach to the menace. The source is relevant to the current study as it provides reliable information on how to deal with future threats of terrorism.
Spindlove, J., & Simonsen, C. (2013). Terrorism today: The past, the players, the future (5th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.
The book focuses on the adverse effects of terror and the strategies used to deal with future terrorism. Spindlove and Simonsen (2013) found that terrorists follow a particular logic in selecting their victims. The book contributes to this field by highlighting the strategies that can be used to improve national security. It supports the thesis of the current study by providing information on the history of terror, efforts made in fighting the crime, and strategies to combat future terrorism.
Blitz, M. (2013). The Fourth Amendment’s future of public surveillance: Remove recording and other searches in public space. American University Law Review, 63(1), 21-86.
Blitz (2013) describes the importance of surveillance systems in the fight against terrorism. The article analyzes the factors leading to the Fourth Amendment. Blitz (2013) identified various challenges affecting the use of surveillance systems. The article helps to identify areas of weaknesses where the amendments contradict the constitution. Blitz (2013) supports the thesis of this study by identifying the need for change in the strategies used to fight terror.
Martin, G. (2012). Understanding terrorism: Challenges, perspectives, and issues (4th ed.). London, UK: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Martin (2012) underlines the motives behind terror attacks in the US. The author used the available information to draw conclusions and recommendations on how to deal with these attacks. Martin (2012) found that most terror groups appear to thrive despite the efforts made by governments to deal with them. The article contributes to this field by analyzing the strategies that should be adopted by governments. It is relevant to this study as it provides insights on how to best deal with future terrorism.
Bamidele, O. (2016). Combating terrorism: Socioeconomic issues, Boko Haram, and insecurity in the North-East region of Nigeria. Military and Strategic Affairs, 8(1), 109-129.
In this article, Bamidele (2016) focuses on how socioeconomic issues are used by terror groups to advance their crimes. The article analyzed the radicalization carried out by terrorists. It was found that governments should focus on the social wellbeing of citizens to deal with terrorism. The article contributes to this field by exploring the connections between domestic terrorism and socio-economic factors. It is relevant to this study as it highlights the importance of the socio-economic approach in the fight against terrorism.
Santifort, C., Sandler, T., & Brandt, P. (2013). A terrorist attack and target diversity: Changepoints and their drivers. Journal of Peace Research, 50(1), 74-90.
The authors analyze the diversity in target selection and how it influences terrorism. The data was obtained from the Global Terrorism Database, 1970-2010. It was found that the rate of domestic and transnational terrorism is declining. The article contributes to the terrorism field by providing insights on how the terrorists select their targets. The article supports the thesis of the current study by providing information on how to deal with terrorism.
Sandler, T. (2014). The analytical study of terrorism. Journal of Peace Research, 51(2), 257-271.
Sandler (2014) reviews various studies on terrorism in the US. The information was gathered through a seminal analysis of literature on terrorism. Sandler (2014) recommends further research on terrorist attacks. The article contributes to this field by providing recommendations on how to foster international counterterrorism cooperation. Sandler (2014) supports the thesis of the current study by highlight the importance of alternative strategies in protecting citizens.