NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Terrorism Policy Needs to Change with the Times

September 13, 2001

Experts believe the U.S. must devise a new policy for dealing with terrorism, because most of our existing policy is a legacy from the Reagan administration -- when terrorism was often a proxy for Cold War geopolitics. Terrorism today is different, and continues to change.

  • Terrorism derives increasing potency from its transnational nature, because globalization and free trade across porous borders can be exploited by terrorists and trade partners alike.
  • Terrorism migrates and follows political instability, and where terrorist activity and infrastructure increase -- as in Central America and the Pacific Rim -- there will be increasing anti-Western sentiment.
  • With the fall of the Soviet Union, the financing of terrorism has changed, ranging from transnational narcotics syndicates to private sponsors like Osama bin Laden.
  • Finally, our views of terrorism will increasingly diverge from those of our allies, as some European nations show impatience with sanctions against Libya, Iran, Iraq and other countries with which they wish to do business.

These characteristics of modern terrorism suggest the need for an updated, focused policy, experts say -- one that remains flexible in an era of globalization, responsive to economic as well as security needs.

Source: Neal A. Pollard, "The Next President's Terrorism Policy," Terrorism Research Center, 2000.


Browse more articles on Government Issues