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Counterterrorism funding

"Counterterrorism funding" Continued...

Even if one believes, as we do, that al-Qaida's abilities have been severely degraded since 9/11, it must be recognized that the group and its regional franchises still retain the ability to conduct tactical strikes. In fact, due to the increased level of security at U.S. diplomatic missions, most of the attacks conducted by jihadists have been directed against softer targets such as hotels or the embassies of other foreign countries. Indeed, attacks that were intended to be substantial strikes against U.S. diplomatic facilities in places like Sanaa, Jeddah, and Istanbul have been thwarted by the security measures in place at those facilities. Even in Damascus, where the embassy was an older facility that did not meet Inman standards, adequate security measures (aided by poor planning and execution on the part of the attackers) helped thwart a potentially disastrous attack.

However, in spite of the phrase "war on terrorism," terrorism is a tactic and not an entity. One cannot kill or destroy a tactic. Historically, terrorism has been used by a wide array of actors ranging from neo-Nazis to anarchists and from Maoists to jihadists. Even when the Cold War ended and many of the state-sponsored terrorist groups lost their funding, the tactic of terrorism endured. Even if the core al-Qaida leaders were killed or captured tomorrow and the jihadist threat were neutralized next week, terrorism would not go away. As we have previously pointed out, ideologies are far harder to kill than individuals. There will always be actors with various ideologies who will embrace terrorism as a tactic to strike a stronger enemy, and as the sole global superpower, the U.S. and its diplomatic missions will be targeted for terrorist attacks for the foreseeable future-or at least the next 100 years.

During this time, the booms and busts of counterterrorism and security spending will continue in response to successful attacks and in the lulls between spectacular terrorist strikes like 9/11. During the lulls in this cycle, it will be easy for complacency to slip in-especially when there are competing financial needs. But terrorism is not going to go away any time soon, and when emotion is removed from the cycle, a logical and compelling argument emerges for consistently supplying enough money to protect U.S. embassies and other essential facilities.
Republished with permission of www.stratfor.com.

Fred Burton and Scott Stewart, Stratfor.com
Fred Burton and Scott Stewart, Stratfor.com

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