Terrorism: National Security Policy and the Home Front   [open pdf - 180KB]

The 1995 bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma has highlighted the complexity of the phenomenon of political extremism. Until this occurred, The United States was focused on foreign terrorists, particularly the so-called Islamic fundamentalists. The Strategic Studies Institute, as part of their continuing investigation of the terrorist problem, held a conference in November 1994 at Georgia Tech, at which a number of terrorist-related issues were considered. The emphasis was on international terror, but the threat of domestic extremism also was examined. Included in this volume are three papers presented at the conference two are related to international terror, while one is concerned with the domestic variety and a concluding chapter. The Oklahoma City bombing suggests that most of the terrorism faced by the United States in the near future will be home-grown. There is the potential, though, that U.S. foreign policy will provoke terrorist attacks from foreign-backed groups. If this happens, the United States is not ready. Americans have grown accustomed to some of the costs of global engagement. Money and military casualties have been deemed acceptable burdens of world leadership, but Americans are not yet used to the idea that terrorism at home may be an additional cost of global engagement. Unfortunately, terrorists understand this. In the near future, they are likely to use this vulnerability and the growing multiculturalism of the United States in attempts to either deter U.S. activity or provoke it. Only wise and persistent leadership, exercised before terrorism at home reaches crisis proportions, can prevent it from paralyzing American involvement in world affairs.

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