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The International Plague of Terrorism

Updated on April 24, 2014

A International Relations Perspective

Greetings, please allow me to share with you a recent International Relations assignment that I submitted at American Military University. The parameters of the assignment presented by our professor, was as follows: Professor’s Statement/Question: Take a recent example of an international situation you read about in the news. Briefly describe the situation and the main actors. Using the foundational theories of international relations that we have studied thus far in the course (realism, liberalism and constructivism), identify and describe which of these theories you believe explain the actors’ actions.


Should all terrorism be considered an Act of War and therefore should terrorist be put on trial for their crimes against humanity within Western Civilization legal systems or should they be put to death at the hands of the Western Military entities? The purpose of document is to support the concept of treating all terrorist as enemy combatants and therefore should be subject to military justice; up to and including being put to death for their war crimes against humanity.

Historical Context:

Although the shock, devastation and pain inflicted upon America the morning of Tuesday September 11, 2001 still resonates throughout the psyche of most Americans and has left a void in the lives of those who lost friends and loved ones that dreadful day; it is widely perceived that the 9/ 11 event was a “first blood” moment perpetrated by Islamic Extremist against the United States. However; history reveals that over two hundred years ago Muslim pirates terrorized American merchant ships relentlessly, a human Network of sailors that represented the North African states of Tripoli, Tunis, Morocco, and Algiers wreaked havoc not only on American ships, the Barbary Coast pirates caused massive damage to European vessels as well. It was not until President Thomas Jefferson declared war against the terrorist of North Africa did the Barbary Coast pirates relent thus; reinforcing the present-day mindset of treating terrorism as an Act of War and terrorist as enemy combatants. (Gerard Gawalt)

Present Day Challenges:

Most would agree that America’s status as the powerful and thereby the most feared nation on the planet Earth has been challenged; it could argued that the period in which America came into power coincided with the post WWII decline of the European powers England and France along with the complicated issue of Germany and Italy’s defeat at the hands of the American led Allied forces and the rise of the Russian bear during the formative stage of the USSR and Europe as a whole was in disarray thus; the emergence of the American Era. (Stephen M. Walt, 2011) However as all empires throughout history face challengers, insurrections, internal and external discord; the United States is no different; today the challenger most would agree is the People’s Republic of China as they are poised to dethrone America as the world’s leading economy. (Stephen M. Walt, 2011) Some would agree with America still dealing with aftermath of 9/11 in addition to the recent April 15th 2013 Boston Marathon terrorist attack at the hands of Eastern European Islamic Extremist in correlation with America’s decline on the global economic stage and it may be a wise choice for our nation’s leaders to implement a upgrade in homeland security counterterrorism measures which would proactively pursue and administer military justice to captured terrorist cells. As the world is watching and the enemies of the United States are assessing America’s current strength, weaknesses and reaction to adversity while planning to strike the United States Homeland at its core. Most may agree that the aforementioned statement alludes to the enemies of the United States utilizing military type strategy to combat America in an asymmetrical warfare manner thus; reinforcing the concept that terrorism should be considered an Act of War and terrorist enemy combatants that are subject to military justice.

Threats Analysis:

From a realism perspective America still exudes a tremendous amount power on the Geopolitical stage due to superior military strength that is battle tested via the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and a resilient intelligence community. Therefore; threats such as a nuclear armed Iran who is very much involved in training and financing of terrorist factions such as Hezbollah will be met with an American National Security apparatus that has endured much within the past twelve years. As for the constructivism vision that may be imagined via the leaders such as Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei; some may consider it a wiser choice for the Ayatollah to consider leading his nation into a life of spiritual piousness as oppose to being the true catalyst behind Iran’s nuclear aspirations and the leader of militant doctrine among Muslim clerics in the Middle East region. (Brent J. Steele) Additional nation-states that have been linked to state sponsored terrorism is North Korea which is also seeking to become a nuclear armed power; North Korea’s constructivism goals are empowered by Kim Jong-un who strives to carry on his late father’s harsh legacy. North Korea’s consistent provocation of United States ally South Korea is a legitimate concern in the region; when incorporating the PRC’s long-term strife with American ally Taiwan and recent sparring with and United States ally Japan along with the rise of Islamic Extremism in Indonesia where 72 percent of Muslims are in favor of abandoning the nation’s freedom of religion policy in favor of harsh Shariah law with its principles based on strict punitive guidelines.(Mohshin Habib, 2013) In summation; the continent of Asia poses genuine concerns for American leadership to contend with.


In closing; some may concur that it is John Mearsheimer’s five bedrock assumptions in international structure that best describes the America’s state of being on the Geopolitical stage today as the anarchic nature of human Networks such as al-Qaeda, Hezbollah among other terrorist Networks both foreign and domestic are a constant threat to safety and well-being of the nation as a whole. (John Arquilla, 2007) Which naturally leads the United States to maintain Military supremacy globally as the Intentions of state and non-state actors are difficult to measure even with advanced predicative analysis and forecasting in place. In summation; the previous three bedrock assumptions explored in Dr. Mearsheimer’s document leads one to a natural conclusion in which the survival of the United States of America as a sovereign nation is at stake and although the majority of nation-state powers may be considered rational in thought and in deeds; however human Networks such as terrorist organizations are not rational and thus; the manner in which America and the West administers punitive action and justice to the human beings that choose to target non-combatants throughout the world is a vital yet complex decision that must be made by the leaders of civilized society that will affect all of humanity. (John Mearsheimer, 2006)


America and the Barbary Pirates: An International Battle Against an Unconventional Foe by Gerard W. Gawalt;

The End of the American Era by Stephen M. Walt;

3. ibid

4. Liberal-Idealism: A Constructivist Critique by BRENT J. STEELE;

5. Extremism Overpowering s by Mohshin Habib June 20, 2013;

Of Networks and Nations by JOHN ARQUILLA, Professor of Defense Analysis Naval Postgraduate School, 2007

Mearsheimer, John. Strategies for survival


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