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Politics and Economy:
Perspectives: Confronting Terrorism
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Perspectives: Confronting Terrorism

The United Nations calls for a definition of terrorism that would

make it clear that any action constitutes terrorism if it is intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians and non-combatants, with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a Government or an international organization to do or abstain from any act.

- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, 3/10/05

Even under that definition, however, there are a variety of approaches to combating terrorism, especially depending on the level at which action is being taken. Below is a sampling of some current strategies to fighting terrorism from policymakers, government officials, international experts, and world leaders.

  • United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan
    "It is most vital to deny terrorists access to nuclear materials. Nuclear terrorism is still often treated as science fiction....But unfortunately we live in a world of excess hazardous materials and abundant technological know-how, in which some terrorists clearly state their intention to inflict catastrophic casualties. Were such an attack to occur, it would not only cause widespread death and destruction, but would stagger the world economy and thrust tens of millions of people into dire poverty. Given what we know of the relationship between poverty and infant mortality, any nuclear terrorist attack would have a second death toll throughout the developing world.

    That such an attack has not yet happened is not an excuse for complacency. Rather, it gives us a last chance to take effective preventive action."

  • The Institute for Counter-Terrorism's Dr. Boaz Ganor
    "Roadblocks, checkpoints, and surprise inspections can help in locating the suicide attacker and preventing him from reaching his target. Precautions must be taken not to create easy targets for suicide attacks, by avoiding the concentration of soldiers in one place or housing command centers in multi-story buildings."

  • Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman
    "Countering WMD has been a priority for the department in terms of making sure that our future forces are organized, trained, equipped and resourced to deal with all aspects of threats that are posed by WMD. I think that you'll see going forward that we'll be further increasing funding for chemical, biological defense programs..."

  • Department of Homeland Security Former Secretary Tom Ridge
    "To defeat an enemy that lurks in the shadows and seeks relentlessly for some small crack through which to slip their evil designs, victory requires the vigilance of every American, the diligent preparation of every community, and the collective will of our entire nation."

  • The White House
    "To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively in exercising our inherent right of self-defense. The United States will not resort to force in all cases to preempt emerging threats. Our preference is that nonmilitary actions succeed. And no country should ever use preemption as a pretext for aggression."

  • CIA Director Porter J. Goss
    "We need to make tough decisions about which haystacks deserve to be scrutinized for the needles that can hurt us most. And we know in this information age that there are endless haystacks everywhere... I am asking for more competitive analysis, more collocation of analysts and collectors, and deeper collaboration with agencies throughout the Intelligence Community. Above all, our analysis must be objective. Our credibility rests there.

    We do not make policy. We do not wage war. I am emphatic about that and always have been. We do collect and analyze information."

  • Department of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
    "Our federal government is really only beginning to adapt our operations to the 21st century. For the most part, the U.S. government still functions as a five and dime store in an eBay world. Today we're engaged in the first war in history, unconventional and irregular as it may be, in an era of e-mails, blogs, cell phones, Blackberrys, Instant Messaging, digital cameras, a global Internet with no inhibitions, cell phones, hand-held videocameras, talk radio, 24-hour news broadcasts, satellite television. There's never been a war fought in this environment before."

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