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Violence and Terrorism

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Protecting the American people from terrorist threats is the reason the Department of Homeland Security was created, and remains our highest priority. Our vision is a secure and resilient nation that effectively prevents terrorism in ways that preserve our freedom and prosperity. Terrorist tactics continue to evolve, and we must keep pace. Terrorists seek sophisticated means of attack, including chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive weapons, and cyber attacks

Threats may come from abroad or be homegrown.

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The United States faces an increasingly complex, and evolving, threat of terrorism and targeted violence. As was the case sixteen years ago, at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s founding, foreign terrorist organizations remain intent on striking the Homeland, whether through directed attacks or by inspiring susceptible individuals in the United States. Today, though, the Nation also faces a growing threat from domestic actors inspired by violent extremist ideologies, as well as from those whose attacks are not ideologically driven. Domestic threat actors often plan and carry out their acts of violence alone and with little apparent warning, in ways that limit the effectiveness of traditional law enforcement investigation and disruption methods. We must confront these evolving challenges by building on existing best practices developed against foreign terrorist threats, identifying promising new approaches, and developing a strategic vision that provides a more holistic approach to preventing terrorism and targeted violence that originates here at home. In an age of online radicalization to violent extremism and disparate threats, we must not only counter foreign enemies trying to strike us from abroad, but also those enemies, foreign and domestic, that seek to spur to violence our youth and our disaffected—encouraging them to strike in the heart of our Nation, and attack the unity of our vibrant, diverse American society.

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The prevalent culture contributes to the engagement in terrorism activities by community members. This observation is supported by the fact that terrorist behaviors are likely to be perpetuated in areas where political strife and actual terrorist activity are already commonplace. Victoroff documents that the culture of public glorification of terrorists in regions such as the Middle East has led to many youths seeking to engage in terrorism (18). It is hard to stop terrorism in a culture where songs celebrating the exploits of suicide terrorists who are hailed as heroes and martyrs of the people (18) are made. Hamas, arguably the deadliest terrorist organization in Palestine, engages in terrorism partly due to cultural grievances. Berman and David observe that this organization was formed to fight the “insidious force of assimilation into materialism Western culture” (1946). The organization emphasized on the supremacy of Islamic cultural practices and prohibited practices such as gambling, consuming of alcohol, and adultery

The group was able to gain significant public support due to this focus on cultural practices that are endorsed by the Muslim community. The incidents of terrorism in Latin America both during and after the Cold War years are also proof enough that economic conditions are not the main cause of terrorism. Many Latin American countries were faced with multiple incidents of terrorism perpetrated against the state (Salimano 23). Scholars blamed these acts on the Cold War, which had led to poor economies and economic inequalities. However, terrorism incidents continued to prevail even after the end of the Cold War. Researchers therefore contend that there is no association between economic conditions and incidents of terrorism in Latin America (Feldmann and Maiju 101).

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Altogether, the mobilization of the concepts of “terrorism” and “counter-terrorism” further reinforces the levels of uncertainty and produces more compliance and ever greater erosion of civil liberties and human rights

Insecure individuals are in no position to act collectively and oppose “counter-terrorism” measures. On the contrary most people are in support of them precisely because they believe erroneously that it enhances their “security” and paradoxically helps reduce their growing levels of uncertainty. In the meantime, liberal democratic states with all their checks and balances against the abuse of power are being steadily transformed in exactly the ways that those who perpetrate political violence wish to achieve.

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Engene, Oskar. Terrorism In Western Europe: Explaining The Trends Since 1950. NY: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2004. Print.

Feldman, Andreas E., and Maiju Perälä. “Reassessing the Causes of Nongovernmental Terrorism in Latin America.” Latin American Politics and Society 46.2 (2004): 101-32. Print.

Solimano, A. Political Violence and Economic Development in Latin America: Issues and Evidence. Geneva: United Nations Publication, 2004. Print.

Tawil, Camille. “London conference on Yemen tackles root causes of terrorism.” Al Shorfa. N.p., 28 Jan. 2010. Web.

United Nations General Assembly. As Debate Concludes, Delegates Urge Capacity-building Partnerships, Eradication of Root Causes in Fight against Terrorism. 9. Oct. 2012. Web.

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