Research Paper: Policy Efficacy: Terrorist Activity

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[. . .] (Sandler, 2005, 77)

Transnational terrorism is a greater threat than domestic terrorism because transnational terrorists understand human nature and the great diversity of cultures on Earth. Every country and every culture handles defense and safety matters in different ways. Therefore, when citizens from multiple countries are in some way involved in a transnational terrorist activity, it is unlikely that the matter will come to an easy, simple, or direct resolution. The differences in methods and culture hinder cooperation, resolution, and apprehension of terrorists. Furthermore, Sandler adds that

To appreciate the collective action problems posed by transnational terrorism, one must recognize the asymmetries that distinguish the behavior of targeted nations and their terrorist adversaries. These asymmetries provide tactical advantages to terrorists who target assets from powerful nations. Nations must guard everywhere, while terrorists can identify and attack the softest targets. (Sandler, 2005,-Page 78)

Transnational terrorists intend to cause cultural rifts and profit off the time wasted when countries cannot agree on a swift, effective means by which to counter the terrorist activities and possibly recover any losses.

The disagreement among countries involved and/or affected by transnational terrorism goes beyond simply who has the jurisdiction or who has the best plan to get the bad guys and make them pay. The disagreement among countries affected by transnational terrorism is at play at a much deeper political and cultural level than the average person would consider. Just as there are countries that disagree as to whether Palestine actually exists as a country, countries adamantly disagree on who is a terrorist and who is not. We can imagine how a lack of general consensus on which parties constitute terrorist groups hinders conflict resolution a great deal. Sandler aptly writes:

National strength provides a false sense of security, thereby inhibiting governments from appreciating the need for coordinated action…In democracies, leaders' interests in the future are limited by the length of the election cycle and their likelihood of reelection. Agreements made with leaders of other countries to combat terrorism may be rather short-lived if a government changes…This short-term viewpoint limits intergovernmental cooperative arrangements that could follow from a repeated-game analysis, based on a tit-for-tat strategy. Because many counterterrorism actions among governments abide by a prisoners' dilemma game structure a myopic viewpoint works against solving the problem through repeated interactions, unless agreements can have a permanency that transcends a change in governments. The high value that governments place on their autonomy over security matters also inhibits their addressing collective action issues successfully. (Sandler, 2005,-Page 80

With the power and assets of an entire country behind a leader, he (more likely) becomes falsely arrogant in his ability to handle the situation independently. Sandler describes aspects of the political process, or the political process itself as a hindrance in the effort to effectively eliminate terrorist threats and activities. The fact that political leaders must be periodically elected and that leaders change with moderate regularity at the highest echelons of governance may actually work against world leaders in the world on terror. Until there is a significant shift in attitude regarding cooperation against terrorism, the terrorists, because they have more practical, cooperative, and honest practices, they have an advantage against those in office who remain divided, but nonetheless sovereign.

Is it really possible for terrorists to agree with each other? Various terrorists are cooperating with each other? How can this be possible? How can people capable of such blatant violence and destruction be also capable of cooperation and collaboration? Terrorists are cooperative because they must be; cooperation is prudent and cost effective. Sandler elaborates:

A much different situation characterizes the terrorists who have cooperated in networks since the onset of modern-day terrorism. From the late 1960s, terrorist groups have shared personnel, intelligence, logistics, training camps and resources (Alexander & Pluchinsky, 1992; Hoffman, 1998)… Despite different political agendas, terrorist groups share similar opponents -- e.g., the United States and Israel -- that provide some unity of purpose… Terrorist groups cooperate because of their relative weakness compared with the well-armed governments that they confront. Given their limited resources and grave risks, terrorists have little choice but to cooperate to stretch resources. Terrorist leaders tend to be tenured for life so that they view intergroup interactions as continual. This long-term orientation means that terrorist groups can successfully address prisoners' dilemma interactions through punishment-based tit-for-tat strategies. The temptation to renege on an agreement with another terrorist group for a short-term gain is tempered by the long-run losses from the lack of future cooperative gains. Terrorists appear to place less weight than governments on their autonomy, provided that shared actions further their goals. Unlike their government adversaries, terrorists are motivated to address their collective action concerns. (Sandler, 2005,-Page 80 -- 81)

Law enforcement and government agencies need to understand the organizational psychology and sociology of terrorist groups on a much deeper level if they are to prove ultimately effective in the war against terror. The powers that are suppose to protect the people are too busy bickering and remaining in their respective corners while terrorists continue to spread their messages through carnage and destruction because they made honest deals among themselves and cooperated with those who are very different from their indigenous groups. Policies regarding terrorist activities should reflect appropriate consideration for the social landscapes within a terrorist group as well as the ones between and among sets of terrorist groups.

What makes the attacks on 9/11 so significant that such significant shifts in policy content and implementation came to pass? Surely there are other countries that have suffered greater casualties, carnage and damage than the United States of America did on September 11, 2001. Hoffman clarifies the issue for his readers:

Indeed, in lethality terms alone the September11 attacks are without precedent. For example, since 1968, the year credited with marking the advent of modern, international terrorism, one feature of international terrorism has remained constant despite variations in the number of attacks from year to year. Almost without exception, the United States has annually led the list of countries whose citizens and property were most frequently attacked by terrorists. But, until September 11, over the preceding 33 years a total of no more than perhaps 1,000 Americans had been killed by terrorists either overseas or even within the United States itself. In less than 90 minutes that day, nearly three times that number were killed. To put those uniquely tragic events in context, during the entirety of the twentieth century no more than 14 terrorist operations killed more than 100 persons at any one time. Or, viewed from still another perspective, until the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, no single terrorist operation had ever killed more than 500 persons at one time. Whatever the metric, therefore, the attacks that day were unparalleled in their severity and lethal ambitions. Significantly, too, from a purely terrorist operational perspective, spectacular simultaneous attacks -- using far more prosaic and arguably conventional means of attack (such as car bombs, for example) are relatively uncommon. (Hoffman, 2002,-Page 304)

From a Law enforcement perspective, on the most basic level, the terrorist events of September 11, 2001 demonstrated that policies regarding terrorist activity failed. The policies and procedures in place did not work. The U.S.A. became the victim of the most gruesome terrorist activity in the history of transnational, global terrorism and this occurred within one of the country's and world's greatest cities, New York City. The terrorists said to America, "If we can attack you here and like this, then there is no place you are safe; there is not enough money or weapons to protect you."

Thus, it is completely understandable that law enforcement agencies, government agencies, and policy makers went into action. Many of these bodies awoke to the most graphic reality-check the world has seen. Policies needed to stop this from happening again. There needed to be policies that could help intervene and cease terrorist activities before they escalated to the point of execution of their plans. There needed to be more policies, more effective policies, and more proactive counterterrorist measures to ensure the safety of the city, the country, and the country's reputation around the world. But were the policies that were made the best for the situation? Do the policies implemented reflect sound research or emotional impulsivity? Are the policies really keeping the country safer from terrorism? How would the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Policy Efficacy: Terrorist Activity.  (2012, March 10).  Retrieved June 19, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Policy Efficacy: Terrorist Activity."  10 March 2012.  Web.  19 June 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Policy Efficacy: Terrorist Activity."  March 10, 2012.  Accessed June 19, 2019.