Debating Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Conflicting Perspectives on Causes, Contexts, and Responses
Publication Year: 2010
Debate is an important part of the classroom experience. However, most debate-style readers do a disservice to students by selecting readings from disparate sources that end up talking past one another. As a part of the Debating Politics series from CQ Press, this reader is different. Featuring paired pron pieces written specifically for this volume, Debating Terrorism encourages students to actively grapple with the central debates and questions surrounding the subject of terrorism and counterterrorism. With topics ranging from the root causes of terrorism, the role of religion in terrorism, whether suicide terrorism is ever justified, whether the spread of democracy can help defeat terrorism, and what trade-offs, if any, should exist between security and civil liberties, GottliebÆs outstanding cast of contributors returns in this ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
Part I: Debating Terrorism
- Chapter 1: Is the “New Terrorism” Really New?
- No: The “New Terrorism” of Al-Qaeda is not so New
- Yes: Al-Qaeda is an Example of a “New Terrorism”
- Chapter 2: Does Poverty Serve as a Root Cause of Terrorism?
- No: Poverty is a Weak Causal Link
- Yes: Poverty is an Important Cause
- Chapter 3: Can Terrorism Ever be Justified?
- No: Terrorist Violence is Never Justified
- Yes: Terrorism is a Just Tool of the Weak
- Chapter 4: Does Islam Play a Unique Role in Modern Religious Terrorism?
- Yes: Islam Has a Unique Impact on Modern Terrorism
- No: Islam itself is not the Problem in the Current Wave of Global Terrorism
- Chapter 5: Is Suicide Terrorism an Effective Tactic?
- Yes: Suicide Terrorism is a Pragmatic Choice
- No: Suicide Terrorism Rarely Achieves its Goals
- Chapter 6: Is Nuclear Terrorism a Real Threat?
- Yes: The Threat is Very Real
- No: The Threat is Overblown
Part II: Debating Counterterrorism
- Chapter 7: Counterterrorism Strategies: Do We Need Bombs over Bridges?
- No: There is a Need to Focus More on Building Bridges
- Yes: More Creative Military Strategies are Needed
- Chapter 8: Can Spreading Democracy Help Defeat Terrorism?
- No: Democracy Promotion is Problematic as a Counterterrorism Priority
- Yes: Promoting Democracy Can Combat Terrorism
- Chapter 9: Can the United Nations Make a Difference in Fighting Terrorism?
- No: The UN is Limited in its Ability to Play a Role
- Yes: The UN has Vital Roles to Play in Countering Terrorism
- Chapter 10: Is an Outright Ban the Best Way to Eliminate or Constrain Torture?
- Yes: Torture Violates U.S. and International Law and Should Never Be Allowed
- No: There is a Need to Bring an Unfortunate Practice within the Bounds of Law
- Chapter 11: Counterterrorism and the Constitution: Does Providing Security Require a Trade-off with Civil Liberties?
- Yes: The United States Needs to Reasonably Limit Civil Liberties and Bolster Executive Powers
- No: Respecting Civil Liberties and Preventing Executive Overreach are Critical to Preserving America's Security and its Ideals
- Chapter 12: Conclusion: Is the Threat of Terrorism Being Overstated?
- Yes: The Threat of Terrorism is Overblown and More Manageable than Suspected
- No: The Threat is Profound and Will Remain so for Some Time
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Debating terrorism and counterterrorism : conflicting perspectives on causes, contexts, and responses/Stuart Gottlieb, editor.
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN 978-0-87289-961-2 (paperbound : alk. paper) 1. Terrorism. 2. Terrorism— Prevention. I. Gottlieb, Stuart. II. Title.
Foreword[Page ix]First … Correctly Identify the Enemy …
The week after the historic 2008 U.S. presidential election, the French newspaper Le Monde featured a cartoon of Barack Obama surfing on a wave of red, white, and blue with the excited caption “Happy New Century!”
In his inaugural address, however, President Obama saw a perilous landscape in “this winter of our hardship,” where “everywhere we look, there is work to be done.”
Having inherited a long and difficult to-do list, President Obama called for a “change of the mindset that ignores long-term threats and engages in the sorts of actions that are not making us safe over the long term.”
Obama's exhortation was certainly justified. Yet it does as much to keep open central questions about the nature of modern threats and how to react as it does to settle them.
This volume provides a timely and important overview of the central debates about one crucial item on the security agenda: the nature of terrorist threats and how to respond to them. The fact that these basic questions remain the subject of fierce disagreement inside and outside of government is suggestive of the complexity of the challenge in conceptualizing and effectively countering terrorism. This volume treats this complexity with sophistication and comprehension, capturing the variety and scope of expert and scholarly opinion as well as the intensity of disagreement.
The great military theorist, Carl von Clausewitz, offered a good starting point for analysis of all kinds of conflict, including terrorism, when he wrote: “The supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander must make is to establish … the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature.” In sum: know your enemy.
The hand the United States was dealt on September 11, 2001, was a difficult one, and efforts to come to terms with the new and profound threat were bound to be imperfect. Nonetheless, shortcomings in America's initial responses to al-Qaeda offer timeless lessons.
[Page x]In 1941 Japan attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, killing 2,402 Americans. Less than twenty-four hours thereafter, in his address to Congress, President Franklin D. Roosevelt requested that it declare a state of war in response to what he called “the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan.” President Roosevelt promised to defeat Imperial Japan and to “make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.” Congress passed the war resolution. Three years and nine months after that “day of infamy,” the Japanese surrendered unconditionally.
Analogies are not identical, but they can be instructive. Imagine that in the aftermath of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt declared war not only on Japan and its Nazi ally, but also on Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union. The result would almost certainly have been defeat for the United States in World War II.
In the case of the Bush administration's post-9/11 policy toward Iraq, understandable concerns about a possible nexus between state weapons of mass destruction programs and terrorist groups like al-Qaeda provided the rationale for the 2003 U.S.-led war. But in ultimately conflating the war against the terrorists who attacked the United States on 9/11 and Saddam Hussein's Iraq, President George W. Bush and key members of his administration failed to heed Clausewitz's advice. Operationally, the shift in focus from al-Qaeda to Iraq meant moving scarce resources, particularly predator drones, intelligence assets, and special operations forces with the relevant language skills, to Iraq before al-Qaeda's leadership was eliminated. Conceptually, this shift led to confusion within and between successive layers of government as they attempted to develop strategy and rationales for what were in fact two distinct and fundamentally different undertakings.
Indeed, when initially faced with the decision to define the enemy narrowly as the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 and their affiliates, on the one hand, or as terrorism writ large, on the other, the Bush administration chose the latter. Conflating disparate threats—al-Qaeda versus Hamas, for example—into a single, undifferentiated enemy undermined efforts to devise an effective strategy for the war.
What have been the results? An April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on global terrorism stated that the Iraq War had become a “cause célèbre for jihadists.” A subsequent NIE concluded that al-Qaeda “has regenerated key elements of its homeland attack capability including: a safe haven in Pakistan, operational lieutenants and its top leadership,” and “continues to plan high-impact attacks” with “visually dramatic destruction.” In the fall of 2008, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Michael Hayden, reiterated this assessment, stating that “al-Qaeda … remains the most clear and present danger [Page xi]to the safety of the United States,” and predicting that “if there is a major strike against this country, it will bear the fingerprints of al-Qaeda.” To this day, Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri continue to operate just hundreds of miles from their pre-9/11 headquarters, issuing scores of audio and video messages, receiving visitors, and training thousands of new terrorists.
And what of the threat of nuclear terrorism, which President Bush defined as “the single most serious threat to the national security of the United States”? In December 2008, the bipartisan Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism offered its unambiguous assessment: “Our margin of safety is shrinking, not growing.” As former senator Sam Nunn testified to the commission, “The threat of a successful nuclear terrorist attack today is greater than it was on 9/11.”
Strategic planning in the United States starts with the president's conception of the threat and nature of the challenge. From that starting point, national and departmental strategies are developed. When initial conceptions of the enemy are flawed, the policies that follow will be similarly confused: objectives will be inflated and imprecise, resources will be misallocated, and the scope of the response, both geographic and moral, will be diffused.
None of this is to imply that terrorism is not a daunting challenge—as President Obama has no doubt discovered since becoming president. Terrorist groups have many potential motivations and goals, ranging from limited territorial gains to global millennial war, and a variety of lethal tactics that may be employed to try to achieve those goals. Successfully combating this phenomenon requires not simply effective military, law enforcement, and homeland security measures. Most important, it requires, as a necessary prerequisite, knowing the enemy: what makes it tick, what comprises its support base, what are its vulnerabilities. As the individual essays in this book demonstrate, there exists a range of reasonable opinions on and approaches to this phenomenon, some of which are in diametric opposition. Encouraging this debate and probing the grounds of differing opinions will make us all smarter.Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University[Page xii]
Contributors[Page xiii]Max Abrahms
Max Abrahms is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University and on the Empirical Studies of Conflict Project sponsored by Princeton University and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. His research focuses on terrorist outcomes and effectiveness and counterterrorism strategy. He has published on these topics in the journals International Security, Security Studies, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, and Terrorism and Political Violence and in several edited volumes. He has been a lecturer at Johns Hopkins University, a research associate at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, a fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and a commissioned op-ed writer on terrorism for the Los Angeles Times.Matthew Bunn
Matthew Bunn is an associate professor at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, and one of the principal investigators for Harvard's Project on Managing the Atom. His research interests include nuclear theft and terrorism, nuclear proliferation and measures to control it, and the future of nuclear energy and its fuel cycle. Before coming to Harvard, he served as an adviser to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, as a study director at the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council, and as editor of Arms Control Today. He is the author or co-author of some eighteen books or major technical reports (most recently Securing the Bomb 2008) and over a hundred articles in publications ranging from Science to the Washington Post.David Cole
David Cole is a law professor at Georgetown University Law Center, the legal affairs correspondent for The Nation, and a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books. He is author of several books, most recently Justice at [Page xiv]War: The Men and Ideas That Shaped America's “War on Terror”(2008) and The Torture Memos: Rationalizing the Unthinkable(2009).
Alan M. Dershowitz
Alan M. Dershowitz is Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Harvard Law School. One of the world's best-known criminal and civil liberties lawyers, he has published more than one hundred articles in magazines, newspapers, and journals, including the New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New Republic, The Nation, Commentary, Saturday Review, Harvard Law Review, and Yale Law Journal. He is the author of nearly thirty works of fiction and nonfiction, most recently Rights from Wrong; The Case for Israel; The Case for Peace; Blasphemy: How the Religious Right Is Hijacking the Declaration of Independence; Why Terrorism Works; Preemption: A Knife That Cuts Both Ways; and The First Amendment in an Age of Terrorism. He has been honored by the New York Criminal Bar Association for his “outstanding contribution as a scholar and dedicated defender of human rights.”
Lindsay Fritz is a research associate with the Department of Defense Analysis, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. She has studied at Tulane University, the Monterey Institute for International Studies, and the University of Hamburg.F. Gregory Gause III
F. Gregory Gause III is professor of political science at the University of Vermont. During 2009–2010, he was also the Kuwait Foundation Visiting Professor of International Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. His most recent book is The International Relations of the Persian Gulf(2010).Fawaz A. Gerges
Fawaz A. Gerges is professor of Middle Eastern politics and international relations at the London School of Economics. Formerly, he held the Christian A. Johnson Chair in Middle Eastern Studies and International Affairs at Sarah Lawrence. His articles and commentary have appeared in many venues, including Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, National Interest, Democracy, Survival, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, The Independent, The Guardian, CNN, Al Jazeera, and Al Hayat. He is the author of, most recently, The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global and Journey of the Jihadist: Inside Muslim Militancy. He is writing a new book tentatively titled Genealogy of Revolutionary Islamism: Sayyid Qutb and His Disciples. He has spent several years [Page xv]conducting field research and interviews with dissidents, activists, clerics, and civil society leaders in the Muslim world, and recently returned from a fifteen-month sabbatical as a Carnegie Scholar in the Greater Middle East region.Rohan Gunaratna
Rohan Gunaratna is head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research and professor of security studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. He has more than twenty-five years of academic, policy, and operational experience in the fields of terrorism and counterterrorism. Author of twelve books, including Inside Al Qaeda(2003), he serves on the editorial boards of Terrorism and Political Violence and Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, the two leading academic journals in the field. Gunaratna has debriefed detainees in Asia, the Middle East (including Iraq), Europe, Australia, and North America, and testified as the U.S. government expert in the Jose Padilla trial. He was invited to testify before the 9/11 Commission.Ted Honderich
Ted Honderich is one of Great Britain's best-known and most prolific political philosophers. He has been the Grote Professor of the Philosophy of Mind and Logic at University College London and visiting professor at Yale University and the City University of New York, and he is now visiting professor at the University of Bath. Among many other books and dozens of articles, he is author of How Free Are You? The Determinism Problem(1993, 2002); A Theory of Determinism: The Mind, Neuroscience and Life-Hopes(1998); The Oxford Companion to Philosophy(2005); Humanity, Terrorism, Terrorist War: Palestine, 9/11, Iraq, 7/7(2006); and Philosopher: A Kind of Life(2001). His 2003 book After the Terror sparked controversy in Germany and elsewhere for its moral defense of Palestinian terrorism against Israel.Walter Laqueur
Walter Laqueur is one of the world's foremost authorities on political violence and terrorism. Over a long and distinguished career, he has been director of the Institute of Contemporary History in London, founding editor of the Journal of Contemporary History, chairman of the International Research Council of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, and founding editor of the Washington Quarterly. Author of countless articles, he has also written more than twenty books, including Guerilla(1976), Terrorism(1977), The Age of Terrorism(1987), and, most recently, Voices of Terror(2004), The Last Days of Europe(2007), and Best of Times, Worst of Times(2009).[Page xvi]Susan B. Martin
Susan B. Martin is a lecturer in the Department of War Studies at King's College London, where she is also affiliated with the Centre for Science and Security Studies. Her research focuses on a neorealist explanation of the role of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons in international politics. She is a co-editor of Terrorism, War or Disease: Unravelling the Use of Biological Weapons(2008). Her work has appeared in International Security, Journal of Strategic Studies, as well as various edited volumes.Andrew C. McCarthy
Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor to National Review. He formerly served as assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he led the prosecution against the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. McCarthy is the recipient of the U.S. Justice Department's highest honors: the Distinguished Service Award (1988) and the Attorney General's Exceptional Service Award (1996). His most recent book is Willful Blindness: Memoir of the Jihad(2008).Gordon H. McCormick
Gordon H. McCormick is professor and founding chairman of the Department of Defense Analysis, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. He was formerly a senior social scientist with the RAND Corporation and has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His interests lie in the areas of international politics, mathematics, and classical History and philosophy.Tamar Meisels
Tamar Meisels is a senior lecturer in political theory at Tel Aviv University in Israel. Her primary research interests are liberal nationalism, territorial rights, and the philosophical perspectives on war and terrorism. She is the author of Territorial Rights(2005, 2009), The Trouble with Terror(2008), as well as various articles on related topics. During 2009–2010, she served as the visiting Goldman Professor at Georgetown University's Government Department.John Mueller
John Mueller holds the Woody Hayes Chair of National Security Studies, Mershon Center, and is professor of political science at Ohio State University. He is currently working on terrorism, and particularly on the reactions (or overreactions) it often inspires. His book on the subject, Overblown: How [Page xvii]Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them, was published in 2006, and his next book, Atomic Obsession: Nuclear Alarmism from Hiroshima to Al Qaeda, was published in late 2009. His book on international and civil warfare, The Remnants of War, was awarded the Lepgold Prize for the best book on international relations in 2004.Brigitte L. Nacos
Brigitte L. Nacos has taught for more than fifteen years at Columbia University, following a career as a newspaper correspondent. Her research and teaching interests are the links between the media, public opinion, and decision making, and domestic and international terrorism and counterterrorism. She has published many articles and book chapters as well as eight books, among them Terrorism and the Media(1994, 1996), Mass-Mediated Terrorism(2002), and Terrorism and Counterterrorism(2006).James A. Piazza
James A. Piazza is an associate professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His research examines the root causes of terrorism, terrorism and human rights, terrorism and failed states, and the causes of suicide terrorism. His work has appeared in the Journal of Politics, International Studies Quarterly, Comparative Political Studies, Terrorism and Political Violence, and Studies in Conflict and Terrorism.Michael H. Posner
Michael H. Posner is assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor—the country's chief human rights official. Before entering government service, he was president of Human Rights First and served as its executive director from its founding in 1978 until 2006. A frequent commentator in newspapers across the country, he has testified dozens of times before Congress on a range of human rights issues and is a frequent speaker at conferences in the United States and abroad. From 1984 to 2009, he served as a lecturer at Columbia Law School, and he was Yale Law School's 2009 Bernstein Distinguished Human Rights Senior Fellow.Eric Rosand
Eric Rosand is a senior fellow and co-director of the Center on Global Counterterrorism Cooperation and a nonresident fellow at New York University's Center on International Cooperation. Earlier, he worked for nine years at the U.S. Department of State on, among other things, multilateral counterterrorism issues. He has published numerous articles and book chapters and lectured [Page xviii]widely on strengthening international and regional cooperation to combat terrorism. His most recent article is “Combating WMD Terrorism: The Short-Sighted US-led Multilateral Response,” published in The International Spectator(March 2009).Michael Rubin
Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, where he teaches regional issues and strategy to U.S. military units deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. From 2004 and 2009, he edited the Middle East Quarterly, and from 2002 and 2004 he was an adviser for Iran and Iraq in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and at the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. He has also taught at Yale University, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and three universities in Iraqi Kurdistan. He is author of two books about Iran and was drafter of the Bipartisan Policy Center's 2008 report Meeting the Challenge: U.S. Policy toward Iranian Nuclear Development. He is completing a study of engagement with rogue regimes, Talking to the Enemy: The Promise and Perils of Engagement.Zachary C. Shirkey
Zachary C. Shirkey is assistant professor of political science at St. John Fisher College. His research focuses on the causes of war, deterrence and balancing, conflict resolution, and terrorism. His recent book Is This a Private Fight or Can Anybody Join?(2009) explores the role that revealed information plays in why and when states join ongoing wars.Alexander Spencer
Alexander Spencer is assistant professor in global governance and public policy at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich. His research centers on the potential of constructivist international relations theory for the field of terrorism research. His most recent publication, with Rainer Hülsse, is “The Metaphor of Terror: Terrorism Studies and the Constructivist Turn” which appeared in Security Dialogue(December 2008). His book The Tabloid Terrorist: The Predictive Construction of “New Terrorism” in the Media will be published in 2010.Karin von Hippel
Karin von Hippel is co-director of the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project and a senior fellow with the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. Previously, she was a [Page xix]senior research fellow at the Centre for Defence Studies, King's College London, and spent several years working for the United Nations and the European Union in Somalia and Kosovo. In 2002 she advised the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on the role of development cooperation in discovering the root causes of terrorism. Her publications include Democracy by Force(2000) and the edited volume Europe Confronts Terrorism(2005), as well as many other works on counterterrorism and development.Jennifer L. Windsor
Jennifer L. Windsor has served since 2001 as executive director of Freedom House, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world. From 1991 to 2001, she worked at the U.S. Agency for International Development, in roles that included deputy assistant administrator and director of the Center for Democracy and Governance. Earlier, she worked on Capitol Hill on foreign policy issues with Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Rep. Ted Weiss. She has written numerous articles on democracy and governance.John Yoo
John Yoo is professor of law at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. From 2001 to 2003, he served as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice, where he participated in the development of counterterrorism policy in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. He has published more than seventy scholarly articles on foreign affairs, national security, and constitutional law in some of the nation's leading law journals. His work has also appeared on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. He is the author of The Powers of War and Peace(2005) and War by Other Means(2006), and is currently finishing a book on the history of presidential power.[Page xx]
In many ways this book is an outgrowth of the crash of United Airlines Flight 175 into the south tower of New York City's World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m. on September 11, 2001. Seventeen minutes earlier, American Airlines Flight 11 had crashed into the World Trade Center's north tower. Even though the initial Flight 11 crash and subsequent collapse of the north tower would alone have been the deadliest terrorist attack in world history, the vast and skilled coordination shown by the al-Qaeda organization with its follow-on airliner attacks against the south tower and the Pentagon, and the failed attack against the U.S. Capitol, instantly, radically, and perhaps permanently transformed global perceptions of terrorism and counterterrorism.
Since the events of 9/11, a tremendous amount of global activity has, of course, surrounded terrorism in terms of both terrorist incidents and government responses. The United States has been at the forefront of recent counterterrorism efforts—Washington has spent many hundreds of billions of dollars since 2001 on new Pentagon priorities, homeland security initiatives, and increased counterterrorism-related activities around the world, including two ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the United States is certainly not alone. Terrorism, whether ethno-religious, territorial, or ideologically based, remains a top security and policy priority from western Europe to western China; from South America to South, Central, and Southeastern Asia; and from northern and eastern Africa to the Middle East and Persian Gulf.
And yet, even though the world is currently living through what can fairly be described as an unprecedented era of terrorism, the fact is that terrorism as a form of political violence is as old as civilization itself. While much raised in its profile (and its purported lethality) by the 9/11 attacks, terrorism itself has not been transformed as a human social phenomenon. It will continue to be used by those around the world who choose violence as a means of redressing grievances and challenging established orders.
Along with the upsurge in global terrorism and counterterrorism activity since 9/11, there has been a tremendous amount of intellectual (and not-so-intellectual) discourse on the topic within and among academic, public policy, and think-tank communities, and across the spectrum of media. Whether [Page xxii]measured by quantities of spilt ink or decibel levels, these debates can be enervating, difficult to navigate, hugely partisan, and simply overwhelming.
The purpose of this book is straightforward: to isolate, engage, and enrich debates on the most important contemporary terrorism and counterterrorism issues. To accomplish this goal, leading authorities from policy, academic, and think-tank communities were invited to write timely and original essays that juxtapose pro and con arguments on hotly contested topics of clear importance to understanding the past, present, and future of terrorism and counterterrorism.
This book's contributors benefited, as will its readers, from the evolving hindsight of the last eight-plus years. The intense flurry of counterterrorism-related activity that defined the months and years after 9/11 has since become more settled, thereby giving the authors a unique opportunity to pause, reflect, and carefully analyze what the 9/11 attacks and the al-Qaeda organization have meant (or not meant) in the context of the broader history of terrorism and age-old questions related to terrorism.
This book also benefited from the change in U.S. presidential administrations in 2009. The transition from Republican president George W. Bush, who had declared “war on terrorism,” to Democrat Barack Obama, who has moved away from the hard-line rhetoric of his predecessor while maintaining most of his hard-line counterterrorism policies, has helped to illuminate the consistencies in perceptions of the present threat and the ongoing challenges facing those who must address it.
Each of the twelve issues selected for debate in this book—six on terrorism and six on counterterrorism—are presented as questions on which thoughtful people differ. Few subjects in the realms of policy, academia, and public discourse evoke as much passion and emotion as terrorism and the issues that surround it. This book does not pose straw man questions. Nor does it shy away from any controversial topics. Instead, it addresses these thorny problems head-on, firm in the belief that an open discussion aimed at bridging understanding of the different perspectives is the best recipe for making proper sense of the challenges arising from terrorism and fashioning the most prudent and effective responses.Organization of This Book
The book is organized as follows. Each of the six chapters in Part 1, “Debating Terrorism,” addresses a vital question related to the threat of terrorism in a way meant to both evoke and illuminate. The comprehensive headnote at the beginning of each chapter introduces the nature of the controversy surrounding the [Page xxiii]topic and summarizes the two authors' forthcoming arguments. The following topics are debated in Part 1:
- the nature of terrorist organizations, looking specifically at how al-Qaeda and other contemporary groups fit into the historical evolution of terrorism
- whether poverty and socioeconomic underdevelopment are possible root causes of terrorism
- whether and how terrorist violence can ever be justified
- the role played by religion—particularly radical Islam—in the modern wave of global terrorism
- whether suicide terrorism is an effective strategy to advance political goals
- the likelihood that the nightmare of nuclear terrorism will become a reality.
The six chapters in Part 2, “Debating Counterterrorism,” focus on the central counterterrorism questions of the day:
- whether diplomatic or military strategies should serve as the foundation of counterterrorism strategies
- whether promoting democracy in the Arab and Muslim world can help combat terrorism
- what role, if any, the United Nations and other international institutions can effectively play in fighting terrorism
- whether an outright ban is the best way to address the practice of torture in counterterrorism intelligence operations
- whether trade-offs with civil liberties are necessary to protect national security in an age of terrorism
- whether the threat of terrorism is being overstated, and what that may mean for the future of terrorism and counterterrorism.
Although the authors of the twenty-four essays in this volume may disagree on many things, we can all agree that terrorism will remain an important global challenge—both in terms of addressing its causes and in terms of reducing its effects—long after the 9/11 attacks fade from memory. The policy and intellectual activity of the last eight years has opened an important door to increasing our collective understanding of terrorism—not just that of yesterday and today, but also that of tomorrow. By isolating the important questions and encouraging open and rigorous debate, this book hopes to seize the moment and contribute knowledge of and insights into one of the world's most enduring, complex, and high-stakes challenges.[Page xxiv]Acknowlegments
For me, this book has been a tremendous undertaking, stretching over several years. It also has been a fulfilling personal and professional achievement.
Such a project cannot possibly come together without the invaluable assistance of many special people. Brigitte L. Nacos at Columbia University and Zachary C. Shirkey at St. John Fisher College both selflessly assisted me with the initial conceptual development, as well as ideas for debate topics and prospective authors. I thank them for this, and for contributing excellent essays to the book. Erica Chenoweth at Wesleyan University provided helpful advice (and some important editing) along the way, and served as a crucial sounding board as I wrestled with the many controversial issues and topics broached in the pages ahead. Eric Lorber at Duke University assisted all along the way with research support, editing, and creative ideas. And Rachel Yemini at the U.S. Senate and Ahmed Salim at Columbia University provided valuable reviews of draft chapters and chapter headnotes. Early reviewers of the proposal for this volume provided excellent advice and criticism. My thanks to: Gardel Feurtado, The Citadel; George A. Lopez, Notre Dame; Susan Sample, University of the Pacific; and Ronald Vardy, University of Houston.
Many of our authors are busy professionals who rely heavily on outstanding assistants to manage correspondence and ensure deadlines are met. Among these, I would like to offer special thanks to Emily Stanfield, Sarah Neely, and Elizabeth Ong. The Macmillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University provided financial assistance, for which I am very grateful.
Finally, this book would not exist without the outstanding work of the professionals (in every sense of the word) at CQ Press. Special thanks go to Charisse Kiino, Elise Frasier, Allyson Rudolph, and freelance editor Sabra Bissette Ledent. You made this project both enriching and far more enjoyable than it had any right to be.
About the Author[Page 398]
Stuart Gottlieb is director of policy studies at the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University, where he teaches advanced courses on American foreign policy and counterterrorism. He formerly served as a senior foreign policy advisor and speechwriter in the United States Senate (1999–2003), and continues to advise political and business leaders on issues relating to foreign policy and terrorism. Gottlieb received his Ph.D. in international relations from Columbia University, and is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.