Example Of Research Paper On US Terrorism Policy
It is safe to say that September 11, 2001 effectively changed the course of US foreign policy for the next decade. After a terrorist attack took down the Twin Towers in America, President Bush immediately declared a war on terror, and this has been the primary foreign policy goal ever since. President Obama has continued this focus, even taking out the terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. The policies used to combat terrorism are highly controversial among many within America. The US has used drones, torture, war, and spying to try and fight the threat of terror. These measures have been questioned by many, as issues about morality, efficiency, economics, and civil liberty are brought up by the discussion of the war on terrorism. Because of this, the war on terror has been more overbearing and costly compared to the results it has produced.
One of the more recent focuses on the US policy towards terrorism is the use of targeted drone strikes on known terrorist leaders. Drones are unmanned aircraft that are cheaper and safer to use than sending troops on the ground, which is why Obama has been heavily favoring these attacks. Due to the unpopularity of sending more troops into the Middle East, the US has ramped up drone strikes since Obama took office. However, there are problems with drone attacks in terms of morality and effectiveness that bring into question whether or not this practice should continue. Because drone strikes are at the discretion of the president and high ranking military officers, it is often hard to know exactly what criteria are used to guarantee civilian safety during the attacks. The United States has claimed that they possess the right to kill any person deemed to be associated with Al-Qaida at any time. These threats are determined in secret with very little transparency, so it is unknown exactly how accurate these reports are. The US government can simply kill anyone they want in the Middle East or anywhere else, and the American public will have no real idea if these people are actually associated with terrorism or not (Friedersdorf 2014).
Drone usage does raise huge ethical issues about how much power a country or leaders should have. Since there is no transparency, it is unknown how many civilians are killed in these attacks or if the United States is actually killing terrorists. However, even if they are killing terrorists, this still raises questions of how overbearing the US is being in terms of their foreign policy. Many countries that the US uses drone strikes on have increased their hatred of the US because of this policy. Drones have done nothing to help the US image in the Middle East, which is a major issue and cause of some of the terrorist activity. The Obama administration has not done an effective cost-benefit analysis of drone strikes and have continued overreaching in their foreign policy (Friedersdorf 2014). For this reason, drone strikes are highly questionable and show overreach in the scope of American foreign action.
Another part of US foreign policy against terrorism is the use of torture in secret black sites and Guantanamo Bay. The use of torture is another overbearing and unneeded approach to terrorism that does more harm than good. While some claim that the use of torture, and specifically waterboarding, leads to the acquisition of invaluable information, this is rarely the case. Torture has led to some information, but not nearly enough to be considered an effective practice in light of all the human rights violations it produces. The United Nations and the Geneva Convention for human rights both specifically forbid the use of torture. According to the U.N., “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (“The Legal Prohibition Against Torture”).” The use of torture is also condemned in similar terms by the Geneva Convention, especially to prisoners of war. This torture is usually done in black sites away from US soil, but this is still illegal according to the U.N. The use of torture is also in conflict with the US constitution, as it violates the unreasonable search and seizure principles set by the Fourth Amendment.
This ineffectiveness of torture is also documented by Senator Diane Feinstein who recently released a report showing how torture did not produce much meaningful information, dating back to 2003. Feinstein reported that the United States used enhanced interrogation techniques deemed illegal by the Geneva Convention, especially waterboarding. She showed how much of the information gathered was false and did not lead to the prevention of terrorism. It also used an unnecessary amount of funding (Rhoda 2014). Because of these reasons, the use of torture is unneeded force as it damages America, and makes it look hypocritical. Catching terrorists is important, but not at the risk of violating the very principles the country stands for.
While torture and drone strikes can be argued to be unnecessary and overreaching, the wars American has entered in best illustrate the overreach of anti-terrorist policies. Almost immediately after the September 11 attacks, the US launched wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These two wars have been the most controversial aspects of the war on terror because of their relative ineffectiveness and costs. The Iraq resulted in over 100,000 deaths for the Iraqi people, while over 4,000 US military members died. The goal of the Iraqi war was to find and destroy Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and liberate the Iraqi people from an oppressive government. The US had also labeled Iraq as a country supportive of terrorist efforts, and for these three reasons they invaded. However, most analysts agree that American lost the war in Iraq as there were no WMD’s and they were not even responsible for the attacks on the twin towers. The war was based on false intelligence, and speaks to the lack of transparency the war on terror has created in the US government. Furthermore, these actions destabilized the region, laying the foundation for the terrorist group ISIS to come in and create more problems than before (Walt 2012). Therefore the Iraq was a complete failure of foreign policy.
The war in Afghanistan did not fare much better than Iraq initially. The US also went into this country immediately following September 11, and this led to over 2,000 deaths in the US military. Afghanistan was led by the Taliban who were supportive of Al-Qaida, so there was some justification for entering, however the war lasted for over a decade with not much success. The US has also fought terrorism in the Philippines and Africa, seemingly extending their international presence. The United States has effectively countered terrorism with a policy of nation building, by replacing dictators and trying to establish democracy in nations ill-prepared for these concepts. Due to the rise of ISIS, it appears the strategy has not worked effective in foreign lands. The cost of these wars has also been tremendous, as the US spends more on defense than the next eight major countries combined. In 2013, the US spent $640 billion on defense, while the next top eight countries spent a combined $607 billion. Defense spending is about 20 percent of the total US budget (“Defense Comparison”). Therefore, the war on terror has been economically costly, and has not been effectively in bringing stability to the Middle East.
The foreign policy goals towards the war on terror have not fully achieved their goals and have been overbearing and costly. However, there have also been some negative domestic policies related to terrorism that have violated certain civil liberties. The Patriot Act, signed in October of 2001, gave the government unprecedented access to the use of surveillance. The Patriot Act allows for the government to monitor electronic forms of communication, including phone records, in an attempt to prevent terrorism. This means that the government can actually spy on its citizens as long as they can prove it prevents terrorism. Of course, there is very little transparency used, so it is unknown exactly how much information the government collects (“The USA PATRIOT Act”). Recent scandals involving Edward Snowden and the NSA have shown that the US has stored many private records of American citizens, which raises ethical questions. This allows for more chances of government abuse, and can essentially lead to a violation of American freedoms. While the Patriot Act may have done some good in preventing some terrorist attacks, it brings up the issue of how much overreach is necessary to prevent terrorism. The Patriot Act gave the government powers that certainly conflict with principles established in the Constitution.
In conclusion, the War on Terror has led to government overreach and unneeded action in too many territories throughout the world. Furthermore, they have engaged in many questionable actions like terrorism and drone strikes which bring up ethical issues. The wars fought to defeat terrorism have not been effective, especially in Iraq. Therefore, anti-terrorist policies should be reevaluated in light of the many failures in judgment since 2001.
Friedersdorf, Conor. "When These Experts Savage U.S. Drone Policy, It's Time to Worry." Atlantic Media Company, 9 July 2014. Web. 11 Mar. 2015. <http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/07/when-even-these-experts-savage-obamas-drone-policy-its-time-to-worry/374132/>.
Walt, Stephen. "Top 10 Lessons of the Iraq War." Foreign Policy, 20 Mar. 2012. Web. 11 Mar. 2015. <http://foreignpolicy.com/2012/03/20/top-10-lessons-of-the-iraq-war-2/>.
"U.S. Defense Spending Compared to Other Countries." 13 Apr. 2014. Web. 11 Mar. 2015. <http://pgpf.org/Chart-Archive/0053_defense-comparison>.
"What Is the USA Patriot Act." Department of Justice. Web. 11 Mar. 2015. <http://www.justice.gov/archive/ll/highlights.htm>.
Rhodan, Matt. “Torture Report: Here's What Dianne Feinstein Said in Senate Speech”. 9 December 2014. Retrieved February 27, 2015, from http://time.com/3625560/torture-report-heres-what-dianne-feinstein-said/
“The Legal Prohibition Against Torture.” 11 March 2003. Retrieved February 27, 2015, from http://www.hrw.org/news/2003/03/11/legal-prohibition-against-torture#laws
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