The Importance of the Terrorist Attacks of 9/11/01. PO 326: American Foreign Policy. US Foreign Policy at the Dawn of the New Century.
The Importance of the Terrorist Attacks of 9/11/01
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We have seen that the demise of the longstanding Soviet threat left America without a fully cogent general approach to foreign policy in the 1990s, though the tension between the moral and power political requirements of USFP remained important
Al-Qaeda’s attacks on 9/11 impact American hegemony and its foreign policy in new ways
New enemy could give direction, but the enemy is elusive and shadowy – difficult to defeat
Radical Islamic terrorism seeks to impose lower-level costs to convince the US to unilaterally change its Middle Eastern policy; not predicated on overwhelming force as with the Soviets
Seems to necessitate drastic changes in USFP – but some existing considerations remain important
How can we dry up the wellspring of terrorism and safeguard against the creation of new terrorists (Wilsonianism and “nation-building”)?
How do we use existing forces to fight this new enemy (defense infrastructure)?
How does the new war compare and contrast with notions about the state system (Alliances? American unilateralism? Sovereignty?)
OVERALL GOAL: Elicit reversion to traditional society by targeting sponsor of and influence over governments embodying flawed Islam (US). They do not aim for military defeat of the US, but for one of two outcomes:
Impose enough costs to get US to reconsider Middle East policy (withdraw), thereby destroying support for Islamic governments
Force US to engage in war that alienates the majority of the umma, who will then engage in terrorist activity to impose enough costs on the US to get them to stop the war OR rise up and overthrow existing governments
The Bush Administration’s Initial Responses to 9/11
Key FP goal: Destruction of Al-Qaeda, capture/killing of Bin Laden, limitation of terrorist “spin-offs” – but how to go about accomplishing it?
Administration has the benefit of vast initial international and domestic support for war against terror
The Bush Administration’s initial and continuing foreign policy responses to 9/11 reflect a mélange of realist thought, existing threat perceptions, and America’s prior lack of preparedness in dealing with a terrorist enemy
Bush Doctrine: In the war on terrorism, “we will make no distinction between the terrorists and those who harbor them.” This statement involves several key assumptions and positions, and will have enormous ramifications for America’s activities and relations with the world
Woodward – Bush constructs doctrine with little expert input
No real definition or delineation of who is a terrorist or what constitutes terrorism – Al-Qaeda is primary target, but Bush explicitly states that all terrorists are targets - ambiguous
Statement explicitly threatens the continued tenure of governments that support terrorists – in doing so, Bush signals his desire to view the new threat through traditional realism (state sovereignty). Why?
Allows for the fighting of traditional wars against state enemies – makes identification of enemies easier at precisely the point where such identification is problematic
Allows for leverage in determining enemies and better chances of declarable victory
The Preventive or Preemptive War Corollary: The Administration states rather specifically that, when links between regimes and terrorists are readily identifiable, or when regimes have interests in and show willingness to arm terrorists (especially with WMD), the US has the right to preemptively depose those regimes
Expands on initial “harboring” language of doctrine
Though no explicit connection made, seems to make targets of rogue states and, especially, the “Axis of Evil” (Iraq, Iran, North Korea)
Key difficulty: Deciding what constitutes meaningful linkages – will necessitate decisions made by the US that will ultimately cost it the majority of its international support
Like previous presidents, Bush’s initial approach to post-Cold War foreign policy largely ignores terrorism
When 9/11 occurs, Bush’s response is largely predicated on a view of the terrorist threat that is inherently realist and statist; this view shapes America’s foreign policy actions, impacts its alliances