War on Terror
Defining “War on Terror” is difficult, due partly to its unsparing use and vagueness as a rhetorical device to vindicate any military activity executed by the United States shadowing the 9/11 attack. If “War on Terror” is to be defined in the manner in which it is intended, it is a set of actions directed – or purported to be directed – at diminishing or eliminating terrorism. “Terrorism” is the deliberate exploitation and creation of fear through brutality or its threat. To comprehend whether the war on terror is compellence, deterrence or neither, a stipulated definition of compellence and deterrence must be made. Compellence entails positions or actions that compel an adversary to take certain actions wanted by the initial initiator; whereas deterrence entails discouraging an event or an action through infusing doubt or fear of the outcomes.
Terrorism involves acts that carry out or threaten violence with the main goal of disrupting, killing, and coercing against a nation or a body with the purpose of imposing will. War on Terror contains some traits that are similar deterrence. One trait is the rival’s desire to undertake undesirable actions (to those who deter). However, because both sides convey a different image of reality, of their intrinsic goodness and of other’s inherent badness. It is nearly impossible to confirm with certainty whether the rival plans to do what extensive publicity efforts try to persuade people that they do. This makes it safer to determine whether one side views the other as almost about to partake in a feared action instead of whether they are “objectively’ about to partake in that action. A significant adversary in this instance is al Qaeda, and the U.S. has displayed its trust in al Qaeda’s intention to perform the undesirable deeds (terrorism) and has done a lot to highlight this intent: “…we are involved in a worldwide war against an adversary that endangers all civilized nations. Our adversaries have openly stated that they are searching for armaments of mass destruction, and gathered evidence confirms they are fervently doing so.” “Through this tactic, al Qaeda together with its allies plan on creating various decentralized operations worldwide, from which they can map new attacks, and facilitate their visualization of a totalitarian, unified Islamic state which can encounter and ultimately ruin the free world.” “The Iranian establishment and its terrorist proxies have made known their willingness to wipe Americans out…”
Other comparisons to deterrence which are displayed by the War on Terror are the exhibition of American military willingness and ability to utilize that ability which serves various purposes including confirming credibility, and declarations of the intention to “penalize” terrorist attacks have been made implicitly and explicitly. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq can be considered implicit reminders of the “penalty” awaiting those who intimidate American power and also exhibitions of American military valor. Clear statements of American physical capability and readiness have been confirmed in public addresses, for instance, “… rest we won’t, retreat we won’t, withdraw we won’t until this menace has been eradicated.” Overt acknowledgement is confirmed of deterrence as a tactic in the War on Terror, but deterrence is merely a tactic incorporated in the war, not a representation of the war itself. “An innovative deterrence calculus merges the need to prevent terrorists from considering a WMD attack and dissuades them from performing an attack.
To evaluate whether the War on Terror has worked for its assigned purpose would depend on whether America is safer now than it initially was before its launching, and whether other parts of the world are safer or freer as a result. In citation to their estimate, America is not freer nor is it safer. America reduces its credibility by tying up its resources in Afghanistan and Iraq. In those regards, the War on Terror may be deemed a failure. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and other areas directly hit by the War on Terror have still not been “freed.” The totalitarian Musharraf rule has been upheld; Iraq has become increasingly violent, arrested Iraqis have been tormented, and terrorism has become increasingly pervasive there. Associations with Iran are declining and many individuals worldwide fear the U.S. more than they do terrorism. The war in Iraq appears to have been a failure in those regards too.
The War on Terror entails a preventive defensive procedure. It involves compellence/deterrence but is not restricted to it, because many of the procedures it comprises fall outside the rubric of compellence/deterrence. For instance, attempting to hinder funds from reaching terrorists, using economic rewards, and “democratizing” the world are strategies of the War on Terror, but are not compellence or deterrence. The tactic for “battling terrorism” is separated into five elements: averting terrorist attacks, advancing democracy, denying refuge to terrorists, denying terrorist governance over institutions and nations to aid in combating terrorism. In the five strategies mentioned above, there is a combination of preventive defense, the utilization of force, and they all do not fall into the compellence, deterrence, defense or swaggering category. It is conceivable that the war involves aggression combined with defense, with the pretense of being wholly defensive. This is supported by the surveillance that one and probably another war have been strategically started by the U.S. without inducement and statements have been casually made that exhibit a readiness to overlook other states’ sovereignty, human rights, and national integrity.
Overall, the War on Terror does not seem to be deterrence or compellence, but aggression combined with defense; while some moves within it – particularly the war occurring in Iraq and America’s expanding enmity toward Iran – are deterrent. The war occurring in Iraq is a consequence of failed deterrence, though the consequences and motives of the circumstance are intricate. U.S.A.’s actions in the War on Terror are acting as exhibitions of power in some respects alongside weakening others (loss of vehicles, fuel, soldiers, money, et cetera). They might be infusing fear in some actors in various locations worldwide, but are also stirring anger and hatred among others, many of whom are not easily intimidated.
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