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United States Counter-Terrorism Strategy


The United States of America, the world's largest economy, whose annual defence spending exceeds that of the next top spending nations combined, has been fighting a war against terrorism since, largely, the destruction of the twin towers in 9/11. However, the war on terror is, to a very great degree, a war on one specific organisation: 'We are at war with a specific organization - al-Qa'ida'. Therefore, anti-terror strategy is largely anti this organisation, and so this determines, I will suggest, the extent and the form of the measures which the US employs in its war on terror.

The first phase and a continuing aspect of the US strategy against terror is the war in Iraq and subsequently in Afghanistan. These countries have been seen as housing and sheltering both al-Qaida and the Taliban, another organisation that is related to the threat to America. Therefore, the US has maintained a presence in both countries.

A vital aspect of the strategy is increased communication and cooperation with a diverse array of allies, such as existing partners in Europe and Asia, and new relationships with Middle Eastern and African nations. The idea is to prevent the funding, spread, and training of terror from these parts of the world.

Against terror organisations, armies are only partially successful. The single most important element of counter terror strategy is intelligence gathering; against terror, the US wants to know any plans before they happen, and to do this they collect vast amounts of data, sometimes in controversial ways.

In Guantanamo Bay, there have been many allegations of torture, carried out on detainees by the US government forces. President Obama recently admitted that 'we tortured some folks', and distanced the current regime from that practice.

A major part of US strategy is to support developing nations, to prevent their citizens from becoming linked to terrorist organisations. This means boosting the economies of ally states, and developing cultural and economic ties.

Counter terrorism is a complex business, relying on non-conventional tactics; terrorists rarely commit to a war, and so intelligence, and providing potential terrorist states with other opportunities, are essential to the US strategy for preventing more attacks like those of 9/11.