Terrorist Attack: Necessary Government Response
Appropriate response to terrorism is one of the most controversial debates of today’s world. Two acute sites of tensions exist in foreign and domestic policies dealing with terrorism. The first is the trade off between civil liberties and national security. The second is whether or not a "tough" approach to terrorism actually incites more attacks. ProjectArcix does not prescribe a certain measure, but will instead examine the merits of both sides of each debate.
Before we examine the issues, it is necessary to understand the government responses. Before September 11, the United States and Western Europe had not been struck by a major terrorist attack in a while. After 9/11, the U.S. declared a war on terror and overwhelmingly passed the USA PATRIOT Act to expand the government’s ability to fight terrorism. The United States then militarily intervened in Afghanistan and later used the War on Terror as one of the reasons for the invasion of Iraq. On the European front, the direction of the effort is indicated by Tony Blair’s August 2005 proposals that include deportation and exclusion of those advocating violence, a criminal offense of glorifying terrorism, and detention pre-charge of terrorist suspects.
Other scholars argue that the United States government has already gone too far, and the USA PATRIOT Act and policies like wiretaps on innocent citizens are slippery slopes to a surveillance society.
Some scholars argue that an expansion of government powers and some infringements of our civil liberties are justified to prevent more terrorist attacks. They argue that human life should be put above rights, and that the rights argument is circumvented when a likely police state results from a major terrorist attack. Other scholars argue that the United States government has already gone too far, and the USA PATRIOT Act and policies like wiretaps on innocent citizens are slippery slopes to a surveillance society. Furthermore, scholars on this side of the debate also argue that a failure to adhere to civil and human rights facilitates terrorist recruitment in families whose rights have been disregarded by the government.
The effectiveness of the United State’s "War on Terror" is another controversial debate with the likes of Professor Chomsky arguing that it only provokes more terrorist attacks and weapons proliferation. They point to evidence such as high levels of terrorist attacks in Iraq after the United States intervened.
Professor Alexander argues that not taking a tough stance on terrorism only gives terrorists the illusion of victory and therefore encourages more attacks.
Those who argue for a tough stance on terrorism say the government should not relax domestic security measures just because there have not been another major terrorist attack, as terrorists may "rationally decide to lie low... until security is relaxed." Professor Alexander argues that not taking a tough stance on terrorism only gives terrorists the illusion of victory and therefore encourages more attacks.