Homeland Security and Terrorism
Homeland Security and Terrorism
The purpose of this paper is to provide a comparative analysis of two articles on homeland security and terrorism based on the work of Gaines ad Kappeler (2019) and Kahan (2015) that look at the said issues from different angles. It also discusses the findings of other scholars for support purposes. The main drive is to find out the position of various minds and schools of thought in relation to policies on terrorism and counterterrorism activities embodied in homeland security tactics. Issues tackled range from the political, social, and economic foundations of counterterrorism to the evolution of terrorism from a geographical, physical, and methodological view. These views are discussed using two key terror incidents: the recent wave of domestic terrorism evidenced by different school and social gathering shootings versus external attack like the 9/11 case study. Organized crime and ways to defeat the new styles applied by terrorist groups will also be discussed from a national and global perspective. After reviewing the different issues and findings presented in the articles, the opinion of the scholars seem to converge to the idea that effective policies relating to counterterrorism and operations therein can only be implemented with an adequate definition of what terrorism is and how it can be jointly tackled internationally and not merely using national efforts.
homeland security, terrorism, counterterrorism, and organized crime.
Homeland Security and Terrorism
The global threat of terrorism has, overtime, created several factions that primarily study and focus on ensuring homeland security. In the U.S., homeland security and it related infrastructure were fundamentally formed to ensure the various forms of terror threats are neutralized and managed when and before they occur. Today, the subject of homeland security in the realms of terrorism and the evolution of the same has received a lot of scholarly attention, both domestically and internationally. Terrorism is not a phenomenon unique to the U.S. and the Western countries but rather a global issue that has led to an evolution of tactical methodologies in counterterrorism. Gaines and Kappeler (2019), in chapters 5 and 7, concentrate on covering terrorism from a homeland security point of view. By attempting to define terrorism in a modern standpoint, other scholars such as Thrall and Goepner (2017) and Winter (2018) have also tackled homeland security and formed a basis for future research methodology and direction. By comparing Gaines and Kappeler (2019) article with the findings of Kahan (2015), the current study intends to provide a comparative summary of issues relating to the contemporary world where terrorism continues to be a major threat. In the end, different perspectives converge to a singular conclusion that effective policies relating to counterterrorism and operations therein can only be implemented with an adequate definition of what terrorism is and how it can be tackled not just regionally but also globally.
Statement of the Problem
As an issue of national and global concern, terrorism continues to expose the different strategies and policies that are meant to keep the homeland safe. As this happens, the role of research in this fight remains an important one in informing stakeholders on failures wins, strategies used elsewhere in the world, and informing the public of future projections on different matters as well as providing suggestions to the concerned security bodies. The problem of terrorism and maintaining homeland security is not new to the world or the US. Nonetheless, the solutions provided through research remain elusive and unique as well as applicable only to selected incidences. This creates a new problem that requires a bridge to cover the gaps in research. Extant literature acknowledges this issue yet only a handful of scholars have attempted to offer new insight on how to go about bridging the research gaps. This comparative study looks at the reasoning of different scholars and researchers in their efforts to offer insight on terrorism and homeland security, while remaining true to contemporary changes that have marked recent years. The implications of this research is that it will provide a starting point for future research in convergence of ideas on solving the terrorism menace. It is noted that a major issue amongst all extant research is the lack of a unified definition of terrorism. Consequently, policies and programs are directed by the prevailing definition, creating a series of ideas and tactics that cannot offer a wholesome solution.
Like the threat of terrorism globally, terminologies and tactics in preparedness efforts have also evolved significantly. From a strategic context, Kahan (2015) begins by providing an overview of how much the United States has shifted its thinking in matters relating to homeland security. In his submission, Kahan (2015) opines that a notable shift in attitude can be attributed to the September, 2001 attacks in the U.S. Further, his article mentions that recent attacks have led to another evolution in thinking where the government is now focusing on homeland security efforts as opposed to termination of terror threats. From a 9/11 and recent school shooting incidences, Kahan’s (2015) article provides relevant information on the evolution of homeland security programs and policy. The use of the term resilience (in this case a term to denote strategy and power to fight back) is slowly fading away as the U.S. now adapts preparedness in a move that aims to study best ways to protect the national boundaries from both internal and external attacks. Similar to the assertion by Winter (2018), Kahan (2015) is of the opinion that a change in methodological approach to terrorism is long overdue. Preparedness should now dictate foreign and domestic policies and programs on counterterrorism because it yields resilience as an immediate outcome. Preparedness, in the modern day fight against terror, is the main component in a web of intertwined efforts to stay ahead of the enemy, even though the face of the latter is changing to including homegrown individuals attacking citizens in their own backyards.
Preparedness is an effective strategy to combat terrorism while still embodying the components of a rebuilding and fighting spirit previously referred to as resilience. Kahan’s (2015) opinion and findings excel in showing the need to change not just the popular narrative on counterterrorism but also in shifting the ideological beliefs that are carried in the American political and social spheres. For example, by showing how preparedness has overtaken the spirit of resilience, Kahan (2015) urges homeland security programs to find ways to prepare for a national disaster such as the increased school shootings. Similarly, it is a call to be ready for more efforts by organized crimes and terrorist groups to test the American way of life. Another critical win for Kahan (2015) is his opinion on the need to have a clearer definition of terrorist threats. While using President Obama’s definition of resilience as the capacity to adapt to change and rapidly recover and withstand emergencies and disruption, the author is conscious of the fact that terrorism is yet to have a unified definition. Like in the article by Gaines and Kappeler (2019), this confirmation means that strategies will be difficult to implement as long as stakeholders cannot agree on one definition. In the end, a terrorist in the eyes of one party is a hero or freedom fighter in those of another.
Despite the notable contributions and points of excellence from Kahan’s (2015) article, it is clear that a few issues are lacking. Firstly, the idea to investigate the use of resilience and preparedness, albeit noble, does not provide a solution to the chronic problem of both domestic and external forms of terrorism. According to US White House (2018) and Gaines and Kappeler (2019), several issues are presented and recommendations for improving the general outlook of homeland security generated. Secondly, preparedness and resilience are offered as operationally-oriented strategies by Kahan (2015) yet they have not been applied in a case study setting. This begs the question of why a trial and error recommendation can be suggested for a serious issue such as homeland security and counterterrorism. Lastly, a notable shortcoming of Kahan’s (2015) article is that it presents resilience as a lesser strategy, even though it is noted that the concept has dictated foreign and homeland policy for the last decade. While preparedness, as a strategy, seems to be a good idea, it should not undermine those that have worked well in the past to provide a blerint of security programs in counterterrorism and related programs.
By comparing the article by Gaines and Kappeler (2019) and Kahan (2015), a number of issues emerge. Primarily, it is clear that there is no better way to tackle the issue of homeland security and terrorism because every incident is unique and different from the previous or the next. Here, US White House (2018) reminds readers of the changing face of terrorism noting how the situation in the West is changing with every passing day. For example, in France, Belgium, and other parts of Europe, terror attacks and threats have not followed any common “script” in relation to behaviour of terrorists and organized crimes. Now, terrorist organizations have begun recruiting home grown criminals in a way that counterterrorism effort have also had to change tactically. All articles reviewed agree on the issue that policies and programs must be adaptive in nature (US White House, 2018; Kahan, 2015; Gaines & Kappeler, 2019; Winter, 2018; Thrall & Goepner, 2017). Without the ability to be resilient and prepared (Kahan, 2015), the American public will bleed in the face of both domestic and external attackers as evidenced in other parts of the world such as India, Kenya, France, and in Nigeria.
It is clear that there is little harmony among scholars on what terrorism and homeland security should focus on. Kahan (2015) and Gaines and Kappeler (2019) align their proposed solutions on maintaining homeland security and staying ahead in the counterterrorism efforts by issuing a plea to first understand these issues deeply. By defining terrorism, Gaines and Kappeler (2019) are able to distinguish it from other different forms of social conflicts. Similarly, Kahan (2015) points to the need for a proper definition of the same in order to prepare effectively and remain resilient when faced by the challenge. Although the latter focuses more on providing a strategical solution to the way Americans view terrorism, the ideas presented from a lens of preparedness and resilience are in consensus with the findings and research of other scholars, such as ( ) and Gaines and Kappeler (2019). In relation to agreement with current government policies, these two articles neither conflicts nor applauds the practices. Instead, the articles dig deeper into the problem pf terrorism and attempt to understand why getting a definition that informs strategy has eluded law enforcement agencies for as long as terrorism has been alive.
The present study set out to
highlight and attempt to cover the gap in research relating to the elusiveness
of a unified definition of terrorism that is critical in informing the
direction and strategies in policies and programs in counterterrorism. By comparing
the position of various articles and scholars, it reveals that the lack of
consensus is driven by the uniqueness of terrorism attacks as evidenced by the
diversity in the 9/11 attacks and recent shootings in social gatherings and
schools. This lack of harmony is likely to present problems even as policies
and programs intend to change with the evolving face of terrorism. Scholars
agree that counterterrorism efforts and maintaining the security of the
homeland will be greatly hampered by improper definition of the boundaries of
terrorism. By looking at terrorism from a perspective of preparedness and
resilience, and through tackling the political as well as social and economic
foundations of terrorism, the future of counterterrorism and maintenance of homeland
security are likely to adapt effectively.
Gaines, L. K., & Kappeler, V. E. (2019). Homeland Security and Terrorism. Pearson. ISBN-13:
Kahan, J. H. (2015). Resilience redux: Buzzword or basis for homeland security. Homeland
Security Affairs, 11(2), 1-19. Retrieved from https://www.hsaj.org/articles/1308
Thrall, A. T., & Goepner, E. (2017). Step Back: Lessons for US Foreign Policy from the Failed
War on Terror. Cato Institute, Policy Analysis, (814). Retrieved from https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3040878
US White House (2018). National Strategy for Counterterrorism of the United States of
America. Washington DC. Retrieved from https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/NSCT.pdf
Winter, A. (2018). The United States of America: Counter-terrorism pre-9/11. In Routledge
Handbook of Terrorism and Counterterrorism (pp. 615-634). Routledge. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/327884211_The_United_States_of_America_Counterterrorism_Pre-911
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