Following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the U.S. attacked terrorist bases in Afghanistan, initiating a long, unsuccessful war. Adopting a military approach has not only failed to end terrorism, it has resulted in the erosion of constitutional liberties, the commission of human rights abuses and violations of international law, and has provided cover for dictators and democratic governments to further abuse their powers, justifying abuses in the name of “fighting terrorism.”
The terrorist threat has been exaggerated and there has been an over-reaction in the media, public and political realm.note37 Many benefit from exploiting the threat of terrorism in what now can be called a homeland-security-industrial complex. As Glenn Greenwald writes:
…the private and public entities that shape government policy and drive political discourse profit far too much in numerous ways to allow rational considerations of the Terror threat.note38
One of the end results of the over-reaction to the terrorist threat has been a proliferation of violent and hostile extremists such as ISIS.note39 In this particular case, there are many constructive nonviolent alternatives to counter ISIS which should not be mistaken for inaction. These include: an arms embargo, support of Syrian civil society, pursuit of meaningful diplomacy, economic sanctions on ISIS and supporters, and humanitarian intervention. Long-term strong steps would be the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region and ending oil imports from the region in order to dissolve terrorism at its roots.note40
In general, a more effective strategy than war would be to treat terrorist attacks as crimes against humanity instead of acts of war, and to use all the resources of the international police community to bring perpetrators to justice before the International Criminal Court. It is notable that an incredibly powerful military was unable to prevent the worst attacks on the U.S. since Pearl Harbor.
The world’s most powerful military did nothing to prevent or stop the 9-11 attacks. Virtually every terrorist caught, every terrorist plot foiled has been the result of first-rate intelligence and police work, not the threat or use of military force. Military force has also been useless in preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
Lloyd J. Dumas (Professor of Political Economy)
A professional field of peace and conflict studies scholars and practitioners is continuously providing responses to terrorism which are superior to the so-called experts of the terrorism industry. Just consider these lists developed by peace scholar Tom Hastings:note41
IMMEDIATE NONVIOLENT RESPONSES TO TERRORISM
• MEDIATION, NEGOTIATION
• INTERNATIONAL LAW ENFORCEMENT
• NONVIOLENT RESISTANCE TO ANY VIOLENCE
• GLOBAL OPPROBRIUM FOR ALL VIOLENCE
LONG-TERM NONVIOLENT RESPONSES TO TERRORISM
• CONSUMPTION REDUCTION BY RICH NATIONS
• MASSIVE AID TO POOR NATIONS AND POPULATIONS
• REFUGEE REPATRIATION OR EMIGRATION
• DEBT RELIEF TO POOREST NATIONS
• EDUCATION ABOUT ROOTS OF TERRORISM
• EDUCATION AND TRAINING ABOUT NONVIOLENT POWER
• PROMOTE CULTURALLY AND ECOLOGICALLY SENSITIVE TOURISM AND CULTURAL EXCHANGES
• BUILD SUSTAINABLE AND JUST ECONOMY, ENERGY USE AND DISTRIBUTION, AGRICULTURE
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37. See: The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update. (return to main article)
38. The following are only some of the analyses dealing with the exaggerated terrorism threats: Lisa Stampnitzky’s Disciplining Terror. How Experts Invented ‘Terrorism’; Stephen Walt’s What terrorist threat?; John Mueller and Mark Stewart’s The Terrorism Delusion. America’s Overwrought Response to September 11 (return to main article)
39. See Glenn Greenwald, The sham “terrorism” expert industry (return to main article)
40. While the presence of ISIS has a lot to do with complex power struggles inside the Middle East, the U.S. invasion of Iraq made ISIS possible to begin with. (return to main article)
41. Comprehensive discussions outlining viable, nonviolent alternatives to the ISIS threat can be found at https://worldbeyondwar.org/new-war-forever-war-world-beyond-war/ and http://warpreventioninitiative.org/images/PDF/ISIS_matrix_report.pdf (return to main article)