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Problems and Prospects for US Counterterrorism Under the Obama Administration

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The US government has developed several measures, techniques and strategies that it intends to use to combat and reduce terrorist activities through corporations, its militaries, police departments and put strategies to respond to real and imputed terrorist threat. Terrorism has remained a fore front in many discussions by various governments. The US has developed advent of modern technology, with their law enforcement seeking to enhance its security, ability to gather and consolidate critical information (Michael, 2004). However it has been faced with several problems while trying to deal with counterterrorism especially with foreign administrations. Caution in dealing with foreign governments and  willingness to compromise and accommodate  interests of the government must be observed(Richard,1993).The US war on terrorism can be traced from as early as the  Nixon era, on the ending of Vietnam War and the evolution of American policy and relations in the Middle East(Steve,2000).  Dr. Kissinger played a major role in the  initiative that helped bring about the normalization and consequent development of relations between US and China in the early 1970s(Henry Kissinger,1994).The  approach of US government to foreign policy has helped  to avoid the endless American oscillation between optimism and despair.

For many years several years many groups has operated in the US soil who either opposed the system of government or leader ship. Many have demonstrated against the US government and its political views (William, 2005).Some of these groups are the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) and al-Qaeda .According to Michael (2004, p.53),”many factions sought to terrorize those associated with the war initiative”. This is one of the problems the US government under the Presidency of Obama is facing with the al-Qaeda. Accordingly with these small groups of terrorists growing   each day the U.S. Government has found itself in a situation where it cannot provide a warning system based on intelligence for the entire world, therefore not being able to predict where an attack is imminent. However it has designed a Homeland Security Advisory System, which provides a comprehensive means by which to disseminate information regarding the risk of impending terrorist attacks to federal, state, local law enforcement authorities as well as to the American public (Michael, 2004).Even with the initiation of such high tech system, most of the American public lack awareness of how the system works.

Many groups have had a presence, or have had a following in the U.S. for decades (William, 2005). Michael (2004, p.130) says that:

The U.S. State Department’s designated four groups of foreign terrorist organization list for 2002, and have a confirmed their presence in the U.S. being the al-Qaeda, Al-Gama’A Al-Islamiyya ,Hezbollah, Kahane Chai and Hamas.

In addition, several countries as Iran, Cuba, Libya, North Korea, Iraq, Syria and Sudan have claimed of funding terrorism, this is another problem for US counterterrorism. With such a big sponsor, terrorists have greatly enhanced their dominion and have proved to be an absolute threat to the US government and its people. In addition Michael (2004, p.130) says that “this sponsor countries cannot be handled by local or state law enforcement, but by federal government and the military”.

The other issue is on perception on human rights and foreign policy by the US government. According to Thomas et al,(2004,p.79)” social science research can demonstrate both that human rights in foreign policy are more a Democratic than a Republican issue, and that situations of war and threats to security correlate negatively with human rights protection”. The fact that war on Iraq has been viewed as a threat to the human rights the same negative picture is being created when Obama tries to counter terrorism, since every one looks the war on Iraq as war on human rights. President Bush administration has been branded as no less than aggressive one by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and these critiques are closely monitoring the Obama’s administration as well to see whether there will be improvements (Thomas et al, 2004).

The US government can be viewed as being deterrent if it continues using excessive and relentless force in combating the terrorism in Iraq. Paul and Brian (2004, p.10) says that “evidence already exists that U.S. efforts against al Qaeda and the Taliban are having such effects on others”. When the Obamas administration put measures to counteract terrorism, it might be viewed as an increase in violence, rather than contribution to national economy. Terrorism is both war and rebellion and the fight against it might be viewed as waging warpath. At the same time terrorism should not be supported since this might be seen as another way of encouraging terrorism .The US government has put up measures that address the causes of these conflicts and ways to counteract them, but at the end these changes may influence the ordinary people, especially those opposed to Obama’s administration and might as well join a cause that employs terrorism. All of this seems to be recognized implicitly by current U.S. strategy, which includes the mailed fist, operations in Afghanistan and the velvet glove, operations in Palestinian (Paul and Brian, 2002, p.13).

Cyber terrorism has also proved a problem for the US government on counterterrorism. The internet is the world most growing site for information access, and with the fragile infrastructure after the global crisis, though considered as secure, US finds it’s self as an easy cyber terrorist target (Webster and Borchgrave, 1998). Most of the groups are trying to compromise national computer infrastructure and this can cause huge financial loss crippling the nation as in 2001.The CIA and the DOJ has been a victim of cyber terrorism (Adkins, 2001).

The use of chemical and biological weapons are far more for experts and they are earning a great deal of attention from the US gorverment.Chemical and biological materials are said to be lethal and Michael(2004,p.136) describes  them as “agents whose lethality is as many times that of chemical agents or nuclear weapons.”Infectious diseases as anthrax and toxins are deliberately being introduced to the public and they can spread very fast. The government may be unable to respond in time and control such chemical toxins once released. The existence of terrorism training manual has equipped terrorists with adequate knowledge on various poisons. The fact that it has been put into writing and made available to the public means a wide range of bio chemical information is spreading vast the reach of government intelligent thus the US government might be fighting an endless war.

What does the future hold for the US gorvement on counterterrorism? The terrorist are here to stay and the US gorvement can only step up on its technology. One of the prospects of US on counterterrorism is the ability to initiate awareness on Homeland Security Advisory System to its public and to constantly change in the way it works with the private sector so that it can identify and protect critical infrastructure, detect terrorist threats, and augment our defenses (Michael, 2004).The security groups has learned not only to take simplistic approaches to events that look harmless, but to overlook at situations and events critically. More so Michael (2004, p.129) says that “the law enforcement has embarked on a new frontier that cannot be disregarded and appears to be endless”.

Cyber terrorism can be solved by linking of the law enforcers with the private sector (Vatis, 2001).The US government has a policy of maintaining a self-image of an exceptionally good nation that is inherently worthy of support by all right-thinking persons (Thomas et al, 2004). He adds that:

Unilateralism, easily blended with U.S. exceptionalism, and is the preferred course of action for many policy-makers, since it allows Washington to walk away from inconvenient situations thus displaying its historic links to isolationism.

According to Thomas et al,(2004,p.78)the US government insists on peaceful change through the use of international law, in order to put  emphasis on multilateral arrangements like collective security. Like wise the foreign policy, realism, emphasizes on states that use force and hostility settings. Most of leaders without past experience on ways to approach these international relations have not thought on best approaches to these international relations (Steven, 2000).

George W. Bush and other presidents came into office with an intuitive commitment to U.S. exceptionalism, and it is still the case with president Obama, and Bush never displayed if nationalism could or should be combined with unilateralism, multilateralism, optimistic liberalism or pessimistic realism (Thomas et al, 2004). This ideational tension gave doubt about the Bush administration and so is to the Obamas, in the construction of a new administration in Iraq. Since Republican administration of President Bush emphasized on   traditional national security and the need to  pursue  economic interests rather than human rights under normal circumstances, Thomas et al, (2004,p.79) says that its  only  quite exceptional that the Republican administration would consider international human rights and policies  a high priority when the country has been physically attacked.

Finally I tend to see a possible success in combating counterterrorism. Many leaders have a history of using force in dealing with issues concerning national security. According to Thomas et al(2004,p.80), presidents as Harry Truman in the Korean War, Reagan in Lebanon , Clinton in the Balkans and Bush in Iraq are seen as using force to deal with national security and the congress has no power to influence their decisions.

Reference list.

Adkins, B.N. (2001) The Spectrum of Cyber Conflict from Hacking to Information Warfare: What is Law Enforcement’s Role? U.S. Air Force, 10 May 2010, p. 7, 1-2.

Henry, K. (1994).Diplomacy.Newyork: Easton press.

Library of Congress Federal Research Division (1999). The sociology and psychology of terrorism: who becomes a terrorist and why? http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/terrorism.htm {Accessed: 10 May, 2010}, p. 1-53.

Llewellyn, D. H. (2001).Terrorism: The 21st-century war. USA Today, 129(2670) p.29.

Michael, R. R. (2004).Terrorism and Organized Hate Crime: Intelligence Gathering, Analysis, and Investigations. Boca Raton London New York Washington, D.C.: CRC Press.

Paul, K. D. and Brian, M. J. (2002).Deterrence and Influence in Counterterrorism: A Component in the War on Al Qaeda. Santa Monica, CA: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (RAND) National Defense Research Institute.

Richard, M. N. (1993).Cold War Patriot and Statesman. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Steven, H. (2000).U.S. unilateralism at the U.N.: Why great powers do not make great multilateralists. Global Governance, 6(3) p. 361-81.

Thomas G. W., Margaret, E. C. and John, G. (2004) Wars on Terrorism and Iraq: Human Rights, Unilateralism, and U.S. Foreign Policy. New York and London: Academic press.

Vatis, M.A. (2001).Cyber attacks during the war on terrorism: a predictive analysis, Institute for Security Technology Studies. Hanover, N.H.: Academic press.

Webster, W., and Borchgrave, A. (1998).Cybercrime Cyber terrorism Cyber warfare: Averting an Electronic Waterloo, CSIS.Washington D.C.: http://www.csis.org/pubs/cyberfor.html [Accessed: 10 May 2010]

William, R. Keylor (2005). The twentieth century world and beyond: An international history since 1900.Newyork: Oxford university press. 

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