If you want total security, go to prison… The only thing lacking… is freedom.
-Dwight D. Eisenhower
Introduction: What Threat?
Regardless of our prevention efforts, will we be able to thwart all current threats from becoming a reality in the future? Chances are, No. Resources are scarce and we must allocate the appropriate level of assets to combat the threats that put international security at greatest jeopardy. Analyzing our ability to recuperate from such a threat can assess the magnitude of a given threat. Which threat will adversely affect international security the most, so that the world order will not be able to return to its previous state? I argue that terrorism poses the greatest threat to international security. Terrorism is getting harder to fight and proves to be a continuous threat. I will embellish upon these points below and then discuss counter-arguments, as well as why terrorism posses the greatest threat to international security.
Difficultly of Combatting Terrorism
Terrorist tactics are continuously changing. Terrorists are constantly modifying their behavior to avoid capture. Take al-Qaeda for example. “The al-Qaeda of September 2001 no longer exists. As a result of terrorism, it has evolved into an increasingly diffuse network of affiliated groups driven by the worldview that al-Qaeda represents (Cronin, 2006 p. 519).” How do we combat an enemy that we cannot identify? The diffusion of terrorist groups makes counter-terrorism difficult. A great deal of resources will be required to combat such an organization. There is also no guarantee that they can be suppressed given the expansive reach of a group, such as al-Qaeda.
Nuclear weapons have changed the terms of conventional warfare. They “devalue conventional superiority (Joffe and Davis, 2011 p.4).” As a result, conventional warfare no longer looks enticing amongst nuclear countries[footnoteRef:1]. A resulting implication is: how do states pursue their ambitions where diplomacy is ineffective? What can Pakistan do, without conventional warfare, to regain Kashmir? This creates an incentive for states to endorse unaffiliated groups whose objectives further the endorsee’s goals as well. In the future, we could see discontented states backing terrorists. We are already seeing signs of this, as highlighted by events such as the Mumbai attacks conducted by LeT. Pakistan’s ISI purportedly aided LeT in conducting the attacks[footnoteRef:2]. This increases the effectiveness of terrorism by providing more resources to terrorists. Our Capitalist society provides fertile grounds for such behavior. Nuclear weapon armed states have lost their incentive to engage in conventional warfare, but this has created incentives for discontented states to resort to unorthodox methods for satisfying their goals. [1: Conventional warfare, regardless of a state’s conventional capability is unappealing when parties involved possess nuclear weapons and a second-strike capability. There is...