|"The Riddle of Terrorism"|
Writing in The New York Review of Books for Sept. 24, 1987, the
historian Shaul Bakhash surveyed four books dealing with terrorism in the
1980s. "There is considerable interest ... in explanations for the rise of
terrorism, the ideology and structure of terrorist groups, the psychology and
social background of those attracted to terrorist movements, the extent of
state-sponsored terrorism, and the links between terrorist organizations. Most
books touch on the subject of counterterrorist measures. Indeed, the problem of
'What is to be done?' is central to much of the literature."
|"Thinking About Terrorism"|
"The combating of terrorism," Conor Cruise O'Brien writes in the June 1986
Atlantic Monthly, "is not helped by bombastic speeches at high levels,
stressing what a monstrous evil terrorism is and that its elimination is to be
given the highest priority.... What applies to speeches applies a
fortiori to unilateral, military action against countries harboring
terrorists." Examining the policy alternatives facing the Reagan
administration, O'Brien argues that discussions of terrorism are dominated by
two stereotypes -- one sentimental and dovish, one hysterical and hawkish --
which "cloud thought and inhibit effective action."
|"Breaking All the Rules: American Debate Over the Middle East"|
The Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes sets the U.S. engagement in Lebanon within
the context of the larger foreign-policy debates of the time, and argues that
the Middle East holds a unique place in American policymaking. "The Middle East
(meaning here, the area from Egypt to Iran) stands outside the great debate of
American foreign policy since World War II-the disagreement over the danger
posed by the U.S.S.R. ... Issues local to the Middle East, the Arab-Israeli
dispute in particular, overwhelm conservative/liberal controversies. Ideology
fades as one approaches the Eastern Mediterranean ..." Published in the Fall
1984 issue of International Security, the article is posted on the
author's web site.
The U.S. and Lebanon
In this chapter from a 1996 RAND report on "U.S. and Russian Policymaking with
Respect to the Use of Force," John H. Kelly, who served as U.S. ambassador to
Lebanon from 1986 to 1988 and assistant secretary of state for the Near East
and South Asia from 1989 to 1991, offers an overview and analysis of the Reagan
administration's military intervention in Lebanon in the early 1980s. "As
events unfolded, American decisions were reactive to actions in Lebanon.
In many respects there was no clear policy -- nothing but immediate tactical
objectives and a mission never clearly enunciated for the troops who went
|The New York Times: On This Day, October 23, 1983|
In this front-page article on the terrorist truck-bomb attack killing 241 U.S.
Marines at the Beirut airport, New York Times correspondent Thomas E.
Friedman reports: "President Reagan, voicing outrage over the 'despicable'
destruction of the Marine Corps headquarters in Lebanon, called on the nation
today to be more determined than ever to keep a force in that country and
resist 'the bestial nature of those who would assume power.'" In addition to the article, The New York
Times on the Web (registration required) provides an image of the
newspaper's front page for this date.
The Weinberger Doctrine
|"The Uses of Military Power"|
Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger's influential speech to National
Press Club on Nov. 28, 1984, outlined what came to be known as the "Weinberger
doctrine." It contained six points that set strict limits on the use of
American combat forces: vital national interests had to be at risk; the war had
to be fought "wholeheartedly, with the clear intention of winning"; we should
employ decisive force in the pursuit of clearly defined political and military
objectives; we must constantly reassess whether the use of force is necessary
and appropriate; there must be a "reasonable assurance" of Congressional and
public support; and force should be used only as a last resort. (Current
Secretary of State Colin Powell, who served as a military aide to Weinberger in
the Reagan administration, developed his own well-known "doctrine"
as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H. W. Bush.)
The Iran-Contra Investigation
|Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Contra Matters|
"Volume I: Investigations and Prosecutions"; Lawrence E. Walsh, Independent
Counsel; August 4, 1993. From the report: "In October and November 1986, two secret U.S. Government
operations were publicly exposed, potentially implicating Reagan Administration
officials in illegal activities. These operations were the provision of
assistance to the military activities of the Nicaraguan contra rebels during an
October 1984 to October 1986 prohibition on such aid, and the sale of U.S. arms
to Iran in contravention of stated U.S. policy and in possible violation of
arms-export controls. In late November 1986, Reagan Administration officials
announced that some of the proceeds from the sale of U.S. arms to Iran had been
diverted to the contras."
|"Patterns of Global Terrorism 2000"|
The U.S. State Department releases its "Patterns of Global Terrorism" reports
every April. The latest report documents every significant terrorist incident
worldwide in 2000, and provides analysis on the terrorist threats in six key
areas: Africa, Asia, Eurasia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.
Especially useful is Appendix B, which contains background information on most
of the major terrorist groups. The 2000 report, which dedicates significant
space to outlining the Taliban's support for Islamic extremists, also states
that "the terrorism picture in the Middle East remains grim."
|"Countering the Changing Threat of International Terrorism"|
This is the 2000 report of the National Commission on Terrorism, which was set
up by Congress in the aftermath of the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in
Kenya and Tanzania. Recent commentators have called the report prescient -- the
commission predicted that there would be a terrorist attack on the United
States on the scale of Pearl Harbor. It also noted that our multibillion dollar
counterterrorism effort designed to thwart and warn against such an attack is
plagued by procedures that have made it difficult for the CIA to employ "the
services of clandestine informants" while the FBI "suffers from bureaucratic
and cultural obstacles in obtaining terrorism information."
|"U.S. Commission on National Security Report"|
Former Senators Gary Hart (D-Colo.) and Warren Rudman (R-N.H.) co-chaired the
U.S. Commission on National Security, whose mandate was to examine issues of
national security facing the U.S. in the 21st century. In its debut report
delivered on Sept. 15, 1999, the commission said that "America will become
increasingly vulnerable to hostile attack on our homeland, and our military
superiority will not entirely protect us." The final section of its three-part
report, delivered on February 15, 2001, was punctuated by some 50
recommendations for strengthening the country's defense. One of those
recommendations called for the establishment of a cabinet-level agency to
coordinate homeland defense, much like the one created by President George W.
Bush in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
(Click here to download a PDF version of the report.)
|"Terrorism, the Future, and U.S. Foreign Policy" (PDF Only)|
This issue briefing for Congress, prepared by the Congressional Research
Service and updated in March 2001, outlines the issues facing policymakers as
they try to craft a successful approach to combating terrorism. Noting that the
percentage of terrorist attacks aimed at U.S. citizens and targets rose from 40
percent to 52 percent between 1998 and 1999, the brief states that "although
terrorism may be internationally motivated, financed, supported, or planned, on
the receiving end all terrorism is local." It also provides introductions and
brief histories of the several policy tools -- diplomacy, economic sanctions,
covert action, military action, international conventions -- that the U.S. has
used in its multi-pronged approach to combating terrorism.
Articles, Studies, and Discussions
|"Think Again: Terrorism"|
In the Fall 1997 issue of Foreign Policy, former CIA director John
Deutch argues that "controlling terrorism will require new mechanisms of
cooperation -- both nationally and internationally -- between intelligence and
law enforcement agencies. Effective action must be simultaneously defensive and
offensive and inevitably requires some compromise of civil liberties."
|"The New Threat of Mass Destruction"|
Writing in the January/February 1998 issue of Foreign Affairs, Richard
K. Betts, director of national security studies at the Council on Foreign
Relations and professor of political science at Columbia University, offered "a
prescient discussion of the dangers of terrorist attacks on the U.S. homeland
and our failure to protect against them."
|"Catastrophic Terrorism: Tackling the New Danger"|
This article by Ashton Carter, John Deutch, and Philip Zelikow (from Foreign
Affairs, November/December 1998) "describes the deadly new forms of
terrorism, the reasons for targeting America and what will be required to
combat the new threats."
|"Countering the New Terrorism"|
A 1999 RAND study "traces the recent evolution of international terrorism
against civilian and U.S. military targets, looks ahead to where terrorism is
going, and assesses how it might be contained."
|"Terrorism and U.S. Policy"|
This April 2001 panel discussion hosted by the Brookings Institution featured
Paul R. Pillar, former deputy chief of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center and
author of Terrorism and U.S. Foreign Policy (Brookings, 2001); Patrick
L. Clawson, director for research at the Washington Institute for Near East
Policy; John Parachini, executive director of the Center for Nonproliferation
Studies' Washington Office; and R. James Woolsey, former director of Central
Intelligence. Click here for
an overview of Pillar's book, and the full text of the first chapter, available
on the Brookings site.
Discussing the challenges of U.S. foreign policy after Sept. 11, Lawrence F.
Kaplan writes in The New Republic (Oct. 1, 2001), "Dubious that
America's dominion can be sustained under assault, leading opinion makers have
presented Americans with a list of phony choices. The United States, they
claim, can't defend against missiles and terrorists. It can't fight
terrorists conventionally and unconventionally. It can't wage a war
against terrorism and uphold its competing obligations abroad. But the
United States can do all of these things. Indeed, it has no choice."
In the Oct. 1, 2001, issue of The New Yorker, Hendrik Hertzberg and
David Remnick contend: "How the 'they' comes to be defined in the months ahead,
and who does the defining, will be absolutely critical. The terrorists' fondest
hope is that 'they' will expand to include countries inhibited and ultimately
paralyzed by the fear (or the power) of their own Islamic extremists (Pakistan,
Saudi Arabia); countries where corners of 'the street' exulted in the sight of
the falling towers (the Palestinian territories, Egypt); and, finally, the
whole of the Arab if not the Islamic world."
Philip C. Wilcox Jr., a former U.S. ambassador at large for counterterrorism,
writes in The New York Review of Books for Oct. 18, 2001: "We should ...
search for ways to strengthen the common bonds between Western values and Islam
to combat the notion of a 'clash of civilizations' and to weaken the Islamist
extremist fringe that hates the West and supports terrorist actions. Such new
departures in US foreign policy would require devoting far greater resources to
support a more engaged, cooperative, and influential American role abroad.
Redefining national security and counterterrorism in this broader sense is the
most promising way to fight the war against terrorism. It is vital that we do
this soon, now that the stakes have been raised so high."
Tracing the origins and consequences of Iran's Islamic revolution, historian
Bernard Lewis writes: "Islamic history provides its own models of revolution;
its own prescriptions on the theory and practice of dissent, disobedience,
resistance, and revolt; its own memories of past revolutions, some ending in
success, others, in the historic memory the more significant ones, ending in
failure and martyrdom. It is against this background of Islamic action and
ideas, memories and symbols, that the Islamic revolution [in Iran] must be
studied and may, just possibly, be understood." (From The New York Review of
Books, Jan. 21, 1988)
|"The Roots of Muslim Rage"|
In this influential examination of the relationship between Islam and the West, published in the September 1990 issue of The Atlantic Monthly,
Bernard Lewis explores "why so many Muslims deeply resent the West, and why
their bitterness will not easily be mollified." He writes: "It should by now be
clear that we are facing a mood and a movement far transcending the level of
issues and policies and the governments that pursue them. This is no less than
a clash of civilizations -- the perhaps irrational but surely historic reaction
of an ancient rival against our Judeo-Christian heritage, our secular present,
and the worldwide expansion of both. It is crucially important that we on our
side should not be provoked into an equally historic but also equally
irrational reaction against that rival."
|"The Clash of Civilizations?"|
Samuel P. Huntington's pivotal -- and controversial -- article in the Summer
1993 issue of Foreign Affairs argued that "the fundamental source of
conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily
economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of
conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors
in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur
between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of
civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between
civilizations will be the battle lines of the future."
|"The Islamic Resurgence"|
In this excerpt from his book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of
World Order (1996), Samuel P. Huntington looks at Islam's worldwide revival
-- how it is being fueled by culture and cultural identity, and why it's the
latest phase in the adjustment of Islam to the West and modernization.
lessons from the 1980s +
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