The Evolving Threat: Introduction

Tom Warwick

“You can act like a policeman or a soldier, but not both.”
Patriot Games by Tom Clancy

Americans born in this century have never lived in a world where the threat of global non-state terrorism has not been at the forefront of the political dialogue.  They grew up in a world where you have to remove your shoes before getting on an airplane, where the nightly news almost always included a story about Iraq, Afghanistan, or another Middle Eastern state, and where billboards on the metro remind you that if you see something, say something. It is sometimes hard to believe that this national state of “constant vigilance” was not always the norm; but before the attacks of September 11th 2001 terrorism was considered to be an issue for local police not the US Military.

When one looks back to the immediate years before and after 9/11, a clear path can be drawn beginning with the United States’ response to the 1993 World Trade Center bombings through the attacks on the USS Cole, the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, culminating in the ‘War on Terror’ where the responsibility for responding to and preventing terrorist attacks shifts from law enforcement to the military and intelligence community. The transition is most aptly comparable to the tipping of a scale, with law enforcement on one side and military on the other.  As the United States moved through the 1990s, weight in the form of new security threats, public outcry, and a new kind of enemy were slowly added until the weight of September 11th finally tipped the scales resulting in a primarily military option.

This new series “The Evolving Threat” will examine how the United States’ foreign policy regarding al-Qaeda and its successors has evolved since the early 1990’s, by tracing the evolving motivations of terror groups, and changing responses to these acts of terror.Through the identification of the new policies created and used to respond to acts of terror, it is then possible to evaluate these policies in regards to their effectiveness to do one major thing; stop acts of terror and the groups that perpetuate them. Please check back soon for the next installation in the series.

Photo Credit: UK Independent

You can read the next part of the series here.

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