Grand Strategy in the War against Terrorism

By Thomas R.Mockaitis; Paul B.Rich | Go to book overview

Conclusion: The Future of Terrorism Studies

THOMAS R.MOCKAITIS

No event since the collapse of Communism has prompted such intense scrutiny of the expert analyses that many felt should have predicted 9/11. How could the largest, most sophisticated and high-tech intelligence apparatus in the world have failed to predict the attack? Why was the US so unprepared to meet this manifestation of such a pervasive threat? Most of the finger pointing and claims of 'I told you so' have occurred within the intelligence community. The academy has not, however, been without its critics. Surely some of the many scholars ensconced in think-tanks, terrorism centers, and universities across the country might have seen the attack coming.

Beyond the recriminations, there has been little serious reassessment of the vast body of terrorist works pre- and post-9/11 to determine what insights remain useful and what new lessons have been learned (or at least identified). An anthology on terrorism such as this should fittingly end with a review of the literature that highlights recurrent themes, identifies significant works, and suggests possible directions for future research.

The devastating conventional attacks of 9/11 notwithstanding, weapons of mass destruction (WMD) continue to pose the greatest threat to states plagued by terrorism. For the past several years, researchers have focused on this threat, and nothing in the recent attacks has caused them to change their minds. Judith Miller, Stephen Engelberg, and William Broad had nearly completed Germs: Biological Weapons and America s Secret War (New York: Touchstone Books 2002) when the airplanes slammed into the Twin Towers. Published soon after the attack, their book made number one on the New York Times bestsellers' list. This disturbing account chronicles the origins and development of America's own biological weapons program. Ironically, the strains of anthrax and other pathogens now in the hands of rogue sates and possibly terrorist as well were grown in American laboratories. Baghdad purchased its strains from the US in what must be one of the best examples of 'blow back' in history.

More worrisome by far than the American program, Soviet germ warfare development actually effected a mass killing. Anthrax accidentally released into the air killed thousands in the Russian town of Sverdlovsk in

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