Terrorism, Asymmetric Warfare, and Weapons of Mass Destruction: Defending the U.S. Homeland

By Anthony H. Cordesman | Go to book overview

Chapter 6

U.S. Government Efforts to Create a Homeland Defense Capability

The United States does not yet have a clearly defined strategy or cohesive program for dealing with asymmetric warfare; even though this was a priority with the Clinton Administration and remains a high priority of the George W. Bush Administration. The federal government never made a proper survey of its programs in this area before the strikes of September 2001 changed its priorities and led Congress to add tens of billions of dollars to such programs. It failed to develop a cohesive program and budget for counterterrorism, critical infrastructure protection (CIP), and counterproliferation activities.

Even the DOD, which is the only part of the government with a detailed program budget and future year plan, only made a crude effort to analyze its homeland defense activities in ways that looked beyond the next budget year. The rest of the U.S. government suboptimized around the more familiar threat of terrorism and forms of counterterrorist and response activity, without fully examining the impact of higher levels of asymmetric warfare.

The U.S. government has, however, followed the same basic principles in dealing with terrorism since the 1970s: Make no concessions to terrorists, pressure state sponsors of terrorism, and apply the rule of law to terrorists as criminals.

The May 1972 Lod Airport massacre and the Munich Olympics the following September resulted in the Nixon Administration’s creation of the Cabinet Committee to Combat Terrorism in 1972. Chaired by the Secretary of State, the committee included the secretaries of defense, treasury, and

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