see Crime; Genocide; Organised Crimes; Rwanda
The report of the Long Commission in the United States into the suicide attacks on the American marine barracks in Beirut in 1985, advocated a military response to terrorism in the future. There was already a strong body of opinion within the American government that terrorism had to be viewed as war. Could the military respond? Defining terrorism as 'war' placed undue pressure on the military against an ever changing protagonist - Shi'ite terrorists in Lebanon, leftist groups in Europe, revolutionary organisations in Latin America or transnational suicide bombers. Even the US military cannot be everywhere at once.
The Commission went on to say that fighting terrorism was not the same as planning for warfare against an invader. Terrorists did not pay much attention to military doctrines and force structure (Simon, 1994). At least the Commission made people think about how to plan, organise, educate, train and defend against terrorism and counter-terrorism. Terrorism is certainly an alternative to impractical, destructive and expensive conventional war. Unlike a war situation, governments can cease to sponsor terrorism when it no longer serves their purpose. Extradition from a terrorist situation can be easier than from a war.
Immediately after September 11 President Bush predicted a long war on terrorism around the world. The resulting war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan broughtaclash between the post-modern forces of the USA and its allies with the pre-modern units in Afghanistan. In the time since the autumn of 2001 it has been seen as a clash between Islamic radicals and Arab governments which the USA is trying to influence. It is clear that America needs the police and intelligence capabilities of other states to track and apprehend terrorists.
The war on terrorism will have to be broadened in some observers' views to cover a larger group of Islamic radicals and Muslims for whom religious identity overrides political values. In 1991 George Bush, senior, said that the then military action against Iraq would make possible a 'New World Order, a world where the rule of law not the law of the jungle would govern the conduct of nations'. In any war between the civilised world and terrorism, Islam would be the scapegoat and this greatly concerns the many millions of law abiding Muslims. This has made the Arab world suspicious of US intentions. Many countries in the West have extensive Muslim communities and an invading and more violent war on terrorism with growing numbers of Muslim victims would strain and possibly break multi-culturalism.
Since September 11 the American objective has become one of frustration, demoralising and beating back at Al Qaeda and its associated groups. Victory will be a matter of degree and unlikely to be decisive.
It perhaps has to be accepted that one cannot conduct a war against terrorists - one can only try