Uzair Ali analyses a Countering dangers of terrorism
The most countering dangers of terrorism pressing difficulty faced by states is terrorism perpetrated by non-state actors. This issue arose after 9/11 and soon spread over far and wide creating enormous problems for state authorities to curb terrorist activities. It was quite natural for the states to devise appropriate response to the danger of terrorism with global reach. Accordingly, many responses were devised with the aim to decisively root out the menace of terrorism and also to effectively remove the causes generating terrorism. To begin with it was resolved to attack terrorist targets, building capacities for deterring terrorism, and long-term efforts to strengthen weak and failing states. As the time has passed since the dramatic events of 2001 the focus has tended to be on the long-term necessity of strengthening weak states and promoting stable, sovereign states able to enforce the rule of law.
After detailed deliberations it was decided to attack terrorist targets and for it involvement of military was considered an important factor. In this context the American-led coalition invaded Afghanistan in late 2001 to overturn the Taliban regime that was mentioned to be harbouring Al Qaeda terrorists. In this connection the policy makers articulated a doctrine of pre-emptive action that justified future efforts to go after terrorists before they could strike. This policy meant that any country that was found engaged in proxy war against any other country was to be militarily challenged and attempt regime change. Gradually the dangers of any such country acquiring WMD became manifest and frequent military action was required that resulted in substantially reducing escalation of terrorism.
From the perspective of this policy military action was justified both as combating a direct and gathering threat and as part of the larger war on terror where despotic and hostile regimes could threaten the world by passing WMD to terrorist groups. It was the nexus of despotism, technology, and terrorism that the policy makers were mandated to focus on to justify military action. Though this policy was relentlessly pursued for well over two decades but it did not decisively succeed in eradicating the dangers of terrorism yet it considerably reduced its frequency.
Another response to the freshly emerging terrorist threats consisted of a series of international conventions and agreements aimed at giving states the authority to track down groups seeking to transport WMD around the world. In the decades before 2001, the United Nations had already developed conventions and protocols that provided universal legal instruments related to the prevention and suppression of terrorism. In 2005, the General Assembly adopted a series of conventions aimed at reducing the power and capabilities of these terrorist organisations and individuals, such as the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.
Altogether, the United Nations passed sixteen international conventions and protocols aimed at establishing a legal framework for international cooperation in countering terrorism. In addition, the UN Security Council passed resolutions, both before and after the 2001 attacks, calling upon member states to ratify these anti-terrorism agreements and urging states to implement domestic measures to fulfill their obligations. In addition, outside of the UN framework, states also cooperated to expand monitoring and tighten up safety at nuclear sites. This premise was initiated by the two Cold War-era superpowers that had a record of cooperating for some years on securing nuclear facilities and weapons in the former Soviet Union. These measures proved quite effective though the problems are still there and are need to be countered.
In another aspect, major countries with intelligence agencies have also increased their cooperation in tracking terrorist suspects and organisations through the sharing of intelligence information. The opinion expressed by analysts well versed with the financial networks behind terrorist groups points out that beneath the loud shout of unilateralism present from the creation of the ongoing policies devised against terrorism is a veritable orchestra of institutions have continued to play sotto voce to build capacities against global terrorism. Individual countries have also taken steps to increase security at harbours and border crossings. Even the borders between friendly countries, such as the United States and Canada, have been tightened, subjecting travelers to more demanding inspections and documentation checks. In all these ways, countries are seeking to gain more information on what terrorist groups are doing, and prepare against their operations and attacks. This requirement is usually updated with many angles added to it for making it more effective.
The counter-terrorism efforts have also focused on the longer-term problem of promoting political stability and the rule of law in weak and failing states. In the view of the weakness of states the probability of terrorist groups gaining ascendancy increases manifold and many troubled parts of the world are weak and failing, providing safe havens for terrorist groups. Another difficulty is the presence of many autocratic states, such as North Korea that are directly threatening to the world if they acquired WMD or passed weapons or materials on to terrorist groups. These new security worries grew the agenda for regime transformation though it is not always found to be successful in many cases.
Threats by terrorists and hostile autocratic states could only be confronted by altering the character of these states. Since its creation more than 350 years ago, the modern state system has rested on the concept of sovereignty. It was always assumed that every state could control and direct the threats emerging from its territory. It was also assumed that weak and poorly governed states were merely a burden to their people, or at most, an international humanitarian concern but never a true security threat. Today, however, these old assumptions no longer hold as the fundamental character of regimes now matters more than the international distribution of power.
States around the world would now need to be confronted, strengthened, and democratised. All of this government activity and foreign policy prescription comes from a particular perspective about the root causes of terrorism. The motivation and development of terrorism dictates how the stable states should act to prevent it. Implicit in this perspective is a two-fold claim: terrorism with global reach is an almost revolutionary new development that threatens the very existence of societies and civilizations; and this revolutionary threat can only be undercut or diminished by extraordinarily ambitious and long-term efforts to strengthen states and promote liberty and freedom worldwide.
Other views make different claims about the causes and solutions to the threat of terrorism. Some see terrorism as a danger but one that can be managed without the need for massive commitments to rebuild weak and troubled states. It is more obvious now that most terrorist groups have taken advantage of the help rendered by weak states that wish to export their problems out of their domain and this tendency is required to be curbed. On the other hand it is mentioned that terrorism is triggered by unresolved political problems in the troubled spots around the world including the failure to establish peace and amity between contending states. It is widely acknowledged that perceived injustices and historical grievances provide the impulses for violence and that it is imperative to remove such causes that ultimately trigger terrorism. TW