Counterterrorism was once a narrow preoccupation of the few and had a small role on the stage of national policy making. Its appearances in political life were periodic. No longer. America lost nearly as many people on 9/11 as it did at Pearl Harbor. Foreign government after foreign government has learned the hard way that inattention to security can be disastrous, and appeasement is usually a poor policy. Many U.S. allies and partners are hard at work against international terrorism. Even the United Nations–once invisible in counterterrorist efforts-has gone on record many times during the last decade against terror as an illicit form of political action–one that may give rise to action by the Security Council due to a “threat to the peace and security.”
One dimension of this course is the effort to learn from nearly half a century of experience in resisting international terrorism. During this second decade of an international contest with Al Qaeda, students of international politics and security are accountable for thinking through some of what the terrorists and their state enemies have being doing. More specifically, hard-pressed governments are incorporating lessons of the past, making new plans, and taking action. Many of them are attempting to shape a grand strategy–an approach that deploys multiple forms of national power in parallel directions so that the moral evil and other damage done by terrorism can be contained or defeated. These tools–whose enumeration and study provide the core of this course–include international law; diplomacy; public diplomacy and strategic communications; economics; intelligence; law enforcement; unusual uses of military force; and perhaps other instruments of power. The course dwells on these means of fighting against terrorism, and assesses the performance to date of such countries as France, the U.K., Israel, and Peru. The U.S., and its national security documents, receive special attention in multiple seminars.