Countering Terrorism Research Essay

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Since more than fifteen years ago, the American government has been battling terrorists. A significant number of lives were lost as a result of the September 11 assault, and more than 2.5 million Americans were called up to serve in the military. Since then, America has made sizable investments in political programs aimed at putting a stop to the protracted war on terror. The fight against terrorism still appears to be ineffectual, despite the enormous sums spent on enhancing security in the US. The big concern that so far has not been addressed adequately is the effectiveness of policy strategies in place that would bring the instances of terrorism to a halt. Thus, the research question that this proposal seeks to address would be; how effective is the United States government policy in countering terrorism? However, it is clear to some extent that having the best response to this question would be complicated based on the inherent political atmosphere where the September 11 terror attack and the United States responses occurred. Terrorism, as a subject of its own, is a political act. Moreover, the leaders of the United States have gone through series of re-elections as they focus on domestically balancing the perspectives of various constituents as well as the global interests of separate alliances. There have been significant national debates regarding the decision to attack the territory of Iraq, the shutting down of the Guantanamo Bay, which was a detention facility, the use of Libya, Syria, drones, and not limited to the current Islamic States. Following the invasion of the units mentioned above as some of the strategies of President Bush and Obama, the big issue to put in scale now is the degree to which the al-Qaeda and other terror groups can be defeated. With all said and done, the dilemma that is still existing in the defense sector with respect to effective policy strategies for combating terrorism still puts the nation at a high threat of insecurity.

Problem Statement

Based on the current state of the nation, it is substantial to claim that the policies and strategies that have been put in place to combat terrorism have not succeeded. Ostensibly, vast of the policies that the government of the United States has implemented over the past couple of years have failed to meet the objectives of the nation unequivocally. Moreover, exerting more energy towards the implementation of the same policies is likely to worsen the situation that has been there before. Apparently, what the U.S. government need to do, which it is not doing is to hold back for a while and assess the political atmosphere of the nation. The federal government ought to carry out an honest, thorough, and sober analysis of the results that its past strategies have yielded. The purpose of stepping back is to scrutinize the policies and identify the key areas of the strategy that was not useful in the first phase of implementation, and the components that might have possibly worsened the security situation of the nation. The identified factors, therefore, have to be jettisoned immediately to favor the new policies that would likely restore the security of the nation as well as bring to a halt the terror threats.

Purpose Statement

The study pursues a throughway, which brings together the most critical strategies towards fighting terrorism as established by the past former presidents of the United States, that is, George Bush and Barrack Obama since the beginning of the war on terror. Even though, the evaluation of the effectiveness of these policies might differ regarding the scope of analysis conducted and the emphasis on the results. However, regardless of the route of analysis one opts to follow, no evaluation of the effectiveness of the fight against terrorism can be complete by failing to address the central concern of whether the government of the U.S. has curtailed the threat of terror attacks since the historical attack that was witnessed on 11 September. Other than this major theme, policy analysis ought to ascertain whether the federal institution has achieved the objectives that it had set for itself at the beginning of the fight against terror. Thus, to some extent, the immediate two former presidents of the United States have defined the meaning of the effectiveness of policies and strategies for combating terror attacks, which is the central theme of the paper. Concerning all the considerations mentioned above, this research should aid in giving a meaningful anchor for future studies.

Literature Review

Based on the fight against terrorism, the Accounting Office of the Government report noted that the government of the United States did not integrate measures of performance in its policy strategy that identified the goals to fight against terror. Instead, it was reported that the strategy document removed one of the most fundamental goals, which aimed at keeping the Americans dedicated to the war against terrorism. Moreover, the section of ‘Measuring Success’ in the 9/11 Commission’s Report did not stipulate any measure that would be used by the current government neither did it suggest any that would be relevant in the today’s administration.

As the Executive Office of the President pointed out in the report, the Results Act and the Government Performance provides that all agencies ought to measure progress and establish performance goals for achieving the objectives of the report. Regarding the requirements of the document, the anti-terror efforts are not exceptional cases. Even so, statements, instead of a substantial quantitative data dominate the few attempts by the government, to measure progress in the fight against terrorism. For instance, the National Strategy for Counterterrorism of 2011 indicates that the federal government has been more effective in the fight against terror attacks. The strategy referred to many states and capabilities employed in the fight against terror groups as the key measures of success.

Cronin also staged that the few advances in measuring the effectiveness of the policies and strategies for combating terror have also been incoherent. “ISIS Is Not a Terrorist Group” points on the killing of the renowned leaders of al-Qaeda, and without giving substantial explanations, relates those deaths with the degradation of the capabilities of the al-Qaeda group. The interpretation of this analysis and its connection with success towards ending the war on terror is null. In a thoughtful analysis, there is no link between killing a leader of a terror group and reduction in the terror attacks. If anything, there is the high likelihood that the connection might be negative since the terrorists might plan a revenge mission. Therefore, the fact that the terrorist leaders were eliminated does not warrant the degradation of the operational capacity of the terror group organization.

Another review of longitudinal research on “Terrorism and Political Violence Regime and Power in International Terror Crises” noted the gap that has been existed in the issue of effectiveness of policies and strategies to combat terrorism. The article revealed that counterterrorism responses had not been assessed empirically. The authors continued to point out that on top of the paucity that other researchers have had in similar studies, there have been inappropriate measures. For instance, the report by the Congressional Research Service indicated that increased expenditure in the security systems is commonly viewed as an indication of progress in the security agency. Whereas the federal government might set aside trillions of dollars for the safety operations, it might not necessarily mean that the nation is free from external attacks. The review concluded that the enormous funding of budgets on security operations without cleaning the leadership and management in the forces had been one of the factors slowing down the fight against terror.

Concerning the effectiveness of the policies to curtail terror in the United States, Faria and Arce concur with the previous research that indicated that the American government has only majored on the 'easy' possibilities. The researchers believe that instead of working to revise and implement new policies and strategies, the U.S. government has taken a keen interest on supplementing the forces by recruiting more energetic men and women to the army. It has invested in pieces of machinery, which have brought nothing other than raising the operational cost. The scholars add that one of the reasons why the partial counter insurgency and the surge efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq never materialized was not because of finance or machinery but commitment.

Concisely, the poor measure of effective policies and strategies aimed at stopping terrorism only leaves the Americans with exposure to terror attacks by the extremists, making the citizens develop a new reality of learning to live in fear. It is undebatable that Americans need new leaders who will stand by them and tell them the truth regarding the terrible options that they have to go through and explaining the risks that hard choices have instead of continuing to have same policies every day, which have not worked from the time they were institutionalized.

Theoretical Framework

This section of the proposal looks into the possible theories connected with terrorism, with a brief outline of how terror groups end. However, the discussion gives a bias inclination to the possible theoretical explanations for the outcomes stated in the earlier chapters. The theory discussed here will inform the future researchers on the implementation of new interventions of fighting terrorism.

The most appropriate theory for the central theme discussed in the paper is the Crenshaw theory. The theorist formulated an idea that “the cause of terrorism is unresolved, and that the factors associated with it are normally contested. ” She continued to add that, “For causes, the desire to correct a perceived grievance is commonly cited. ” According to Crenshaw, the main causes of grievances in the society are religious persecution, colonialism, and ethnic fractionalization. On top of the perceived grievances, the inability of individuals to take part in the political process is another substantial factor that can make them get involved in terror activities. The theorist further hypothesized that a precondition for a terror attack is a government that is either unable or unwilling to prevent the terror attack. Other experts in security issues have bolstered Crenshaw’s hypothesis by stating that the countries that are having failed administrations are likely to witness several instances of terror attacks if not transnational strikes. The hypothesis for the study to be tested would be; The United States’ government policy has been effective in countering terrorism.

Research Design/Methodology

The study will employ single-case design to analyze and test the hypothesis. The previous researchers have tested Single-case designs as one of the most suitable in studies that need testing of hypotheses. The design method does not only inform the researchers to formulate new hypotheses but also helps in reducing errors in quantitative studies. The study will also involve the test-retest analysis to ascertain the validity of the research outcomes. Concerning operationalization of the study variables, it will identify the dependent and the independent variables. Since the strength of the policies influences the outcome of terrorism, policies and strategies would be classified as the independent variables, whereas the incidence of terror attack will be the dependent variables. The research will identify one of the locations, which suffered the terror attack during the September 11 attack and sample 120 respondents for the study. The cases for the study will be the victims or the survivors of the 9/11 attack. These cases would be selected based on the assumption that they would give the most desirable outcome for the study through their personal views on how their lives have changed throughout the formulation of the previous policies.

Convenience sampling technique will be used since it is the most effective for clustered populations. The research will be dominantly based on the primary data that will be collected from the study participants. However, secondary data will also be outsourced from government agencies. The raw data will be collected through questionnaires and focused-group discussions. Finally, the data will be analyzed through pattern-matching for easy comparison and interpretation of variables. In pattern-matching, the study will compare the assumptions from the theoretical framework that were discussed earlier in the proposal with the outcome obtained from the results. Therefore, a correlation between the study hypothesis and the conceptual framework will be determined. However, the possible limitation of the research would be the low probability of making a causal inference based on the generalizability of the data that would be collected. A bias discussion will also be on the nature of this research. Since it is a social research, there is the high likelihood that it will be criticized for its conceptual sloppiness and the fact that it will possibly fail to develop series of research around the fundamental theoretical constructs.


Alderman, Liz. “Terror Threats Thaw Budgets across Europe.” The New York Times, 2016. Accessed Aug. 22, 2017.

Ben-Yehuda, Hemda, and Luba Levin-Banchik. “Regime and Power in International Terror Crises: Strong Democracies Fight Back Hard.” Terrorism and Political Violence 26, no. 3 (2014): 504-522. doi:10.1080/09546553.2012.736891

Crenshaw, Martha. “The Psychology of Terrorism: An Agenda for the 21st Century.” Political Psychology 21, no. 2 (2000): 405–420. doi:10.1111/0162-895X.00195

Cronin, Audrey Kurth. “ISIS is not a Terrorist Group: Why Counterterrorism won’t stop the Latest Jihadist Threat.” Foreign Affairs 94, no. 2 (2015): 87–98. Accessed Aug. 22, 2017.

Cullen, Peter M. “The Role of Targeted Killing in the Campaign against Terror.” JFQ: Joint Force Quarterly, 2008, 22–29. Accessed Aug. 22, 2017.

Faria, João Ricardo, and Daniel Arce. “Counterterrorism and its Impact on Terror Support and Recruitment: Accounting for Backlash.” Defence and Peace Economics 23, no. 5 (2012): 431–45. doi:10.1080/10242694.2011.604930

Hoffman, Bruce. “A Counterterrorism Strategy for the Obama Administration.” Terrorism and Political Violence 21, no. 3 (2009): 359–77. doi:10.1080/09546550902950316

United States. National Strategy for Counterterrorism. [Washington, D.C.]: [Executive Office of the President], 2011.

Wong, Stephen E. “Single-Case Evaluation Designs for Practitioners.” Journal of Social Service Research 36, no. 3 (2010): 248–59. doi:10.1080/01488371003707654

July 15, 2023

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