The face of war has changed in the 21st century, a change that the United States is not totally prepared for. Our new enemies are not citizens of countries, they have no face, and they do not abide by any “rules of war.” Because of this, there is not a person safe from their attacks, from the President to military personnel to a college student in west Texas as now everyone is a target. They succeed by their element of surprise and their surprising ingenuity in creating their terror. Before someone can propose policy regarding terrorism, we need to begin to understand what incites these people to perpetrate such heinous acts and what they hope to gain by their actions. There are many possible reasons for their actions, some of which may need to be taken into account in order to create policy that is as much protective of the country as it is of the individual’s rights. One of their largest concerns may be gaining recognition for their cause, harassing or weakening countries, embarrassing governments by showing an inability to protect its citizens, prevent or delay legislation, and possibly even causing government reaction, overreaction, and possibly repression of its people by overzealously trying to protect them. However, in regards to the United States, changes must be made in the areas of domestic policy, foreign policy, and the military.
The United States government faces a strong dilemma when it comes to creating changes in domestic policy. In exchange for better protection of the citizens, the citizens must be willing to also give up or abridge certain rights, the problem being the United States founded on freedom. Another issue is how far are we willing to go to ensure our safety. One idea being pondered is the issuance of a national smart card with detailed information about the carrier. This in itself would make the average American scream an invasion of privacy. However, this card is no worse than a driver’s license that most Americans already carry. However, the main perpetrators of new terrorism are of Middle Eastern decent. Should only those of Middle Eastern decent in the United States be required to carry these cards? On the surface this would make sense except for the equality and discriminatory issues involved with this option. But, those from the Middle East are not the only ones that may be involved with terrorism, such as the Oklahoma City bombing conducted by Timothy McVey and possibly others. There are thousands of people of other decent in this country in militia groups and even racial groups that are probably more than willing to create terror themselves, and with these people, they probably have even greater means and resources than those who attacked on September 11. Therefore a smart card would make much more sense to be issued to all of those in this country, and it seems that a majority of Americans are willing to accept this idea. Another issue, which has many, parts and has been battled over in government and the courts for years, and this is the area of civil rights. There are many court cases already that involve police methods of obtaining justice, with most of these cases barring many of these types of investigation. One method is the monitoring of phone calls and other forms of communication. The question is whether or not the government should allow the greater use of and more freedom in the use of these techniques to weed out possible terrorists. Americans seem to be about half and half on this issue. Another problem with this is the fairness of application of these powers if given more freely. However, the best solution to terrorism is prevention, and these tools would definitely help in finding those involved in terrorism related activities. Whether or not this is mostly used on those of Middle Eastern decent is trivial, as these are drastic times where the criminals are effective and faceless. All those of this decent should be monitored, as one could not tell otherwise if one of these people could possibly be involved in certain activities. They are a minority in this country, and if the greater good is protecting the rest of the people in this country then that alone should qualify a few inconveniences for middle eastern people residing here. Another question involves giving certain government agencies such as the FBI, CIA, and the NSA greater opportunity to investigate and to gather information about people without the pressing oversight of congress, which in itself could be one cause of a rise in terrorism as these agencies did not have the means to find out information that might have stopped the latest attack. Bush has already proposed the formation of a new agency called the National Homeland Security Agency that has powers not unlike the National Security Council. However, others such as Gary Hart who originally was involved with a Commission on National Security in the 21st century under Clinton, believes the agency’s powers so go far beyond what is planned now. He proposes the new agency having powers of the Coast Guard, Customs Service, border patrol, Federal Emergency Management Agency and elements of at least three dozen other federal offices. This would essentially centralize the domestic security powers creating one strong agency eliminating lack of communication and loopholes. The new border powers would strengthen out border and target cargo that is suspicious and hopefully prevent weapons from even entering the country. Also it should not have intelligence gathering capabilities but it should have the power to focus intelligence on domestic threats. Also this agency should have final authority and accountability. All this together would make an agency that eliminates the need for other agencies and would make domestic safety much more efficient and effective instead of having many different agencies attempting to communicate with each other with a heads that are powerless, ineffective, and lacks accountability.
Another arena that changes need to be made is foreign policy. The United States needs to interact with its allies and create new international rules and possibly agencies that deal with terrorism and to act with the allies on these changes. There are several countries with hostile regimes that condone and feed the terrorism such as the Taliban that are harboring Bin Laden. Now there are other possibilities to combat these regimes without military action. One method is already being used now in Afghanistan. In these countries with radical Islamic fundamentalist regimes have opposition in the country they control. The main problem is these opposition groups do not have the resources to overthrow these powerful regimes. Therefore if the United States gives money to these opposition groups and the people of the country, hopefully then they would have the resources to overthrow the controlling party. This way the people are empowered and then we would have their support after they gained control without numerous American lives lost. In addition the US government should also help strengthen the other ally countries in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia both making them stronger than the opposing countries and keeping our allies from having similar fundamentalist regimes from gaining power. With our stronger allies such as Britain and France the US needs to form multilateral international agencies to approach the terrorism problem. Already an International Criminal Court has been created which would be used to try accused terrorists. This court should be dominated by the United States and its allies with the harshest punishments carried out as a warning to other terrorists. However, there is a catch 22 situation created by this as punishing terrorists would only make them more zealous in their hatred of the United States and result in an escalation. A possible answer is a simpler one and that is to pull out from the Middle East all together and let the countries fight among themselves to settle their differences without having the United States as a big brother interfering. This is probably the single most important reason for the rise in terrorism. Terrorists more than likely target us because of their resentment against us for our intrusion into their world, especially when the United States is on the side of a country that opposes the countries home to terrorists. One instance of American involvement is Israel and Palestine who have been at ware for years and will probably be at war for years to come regardless of American involvement. The hatred shown by Palestine was evident as its citizens cheered when the World Trade Center and Pentagon were attacked. As lone as the United States is on the side of Middle East countries that are not Islamic then the terrorism will continue. American involvement in countries trying to overthrow a hostile regime also feeds the proverbial fire. The United States has already decide to send 40 million dollars to the anti-Taliban groups in Afghanistan, supra, this of course ties in with more American involvement and this alone will cause more terrorism against the United States.
A third arena that needs treatment is military involvement. Americans have already shown their near unanimous support for military action against those responsible. But all out military use is not quite needed as of yet as there are other methods that would result in less loss and have the same effect. However, first, the United States military and the militaries of our allies need to be taught about a different style of warfare. The last thing the world needs is another Vietnam as guerilla fighting would probably be the most used method of war in these underdeveloped middle-eastern countries as the terrorists training is probably based on such tactics. History shows advanced armies, as in Vietnam, do no fare well against the archaic yet effective guerilla warfare. Before full military effort is administered however, a different approach should be taken first. Highly trained and specialized teams of Seals and Special Forces should be sent in first to knock out with pin point precision terrorist installations and people of stature and power within these terrorist groups such as Bin Laden’s Al-Quaeda. Without their leaders most of the terrorist groups would probably disband without having their unifying voice. This type of precision would be fast and efficient with as little intrusion on international rules as possible. However, if this method is found ineffective then a full deployment of troops should occur. With this the objectives should be precise and swift rendering the hostile regimes useless and allow for the eradication of those involved in terrorist acts, as a very potent point should be made to others that oppose the United States.
It is certain that changes need to be made in the areas of domestic policy, foreign policy, and the military. However, the answer to terrorism is not an easy one. The United States has already created a catch 22 situation with the middle east by its obsessive intrusion into the affairs of the middle east which is the main reason that terrorism has rose to what it has today. The government needs to be careful in who it accuses as those responsible. But when there is no doubt, swift, accurate, and just punishment should be used whether it be with a small special forces team knocking out those in power or a full scale war against the countries that harbor the terrorists. With this the government should have full support of the people, and should not back down to any country responsible for bringing death to our home.
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