The War on Terror and Theories of International Relations


TheWar on Terror and Theories of International Relations

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TheWar on Terror and Theories of International Relations

Itwould be hard to address the war on terror if the acts and objectivesof terror are not clearly defined. Whereas terrorism is not a localor religious phenomenon, it has been hijacked by self-seekers towreck havoc on innocent communities and nations based on religiousand other affiliations. Many are the times that Christians are pittedagainst the Muslims and vice versa in the hope that such incitementwould aggravate animosity among peaceful societies based on theirreligious and other sectarian differences(Downing, 2008).Terror acts involve instilling fear and intimidation with theobjective of coercing communities or organizations to embrace aparticular set of values of practices. Several events in the historyof the world are commonly associated with the commencement of terrorin the global arena. The invasion of Iraq by the Americans in 2003 isone of the events that historians continue to term as one of theleading causes of the modern terrorist ideology. The 9-11 attack onthe world trade center building in the US on the other could be saidto have laid the foundation for the war around the world(Downing, 2008).This paper examines various strategies that have been employed by thewestern nations to fight terrorists and their sympathizers. The paperalso discusses how the war on terror has shaped the internationalrelations among nations around the world.

Historicalbackground to the attacks

TheCold War with the Soviet Union

Thecold war is a term that is used to define the relationship thatemerged mainly between the USA and former USSR. The relationship isusually established after the Second World War. It was informed byideological differences between the two powerhouses, with the USAadopting the capitalist ideology while THER USSR advocated forcommunism in the management of affairs around the globe. Each of thetwo nations strongly held to the doctrines from the beginning, and itwould come to haunt the two countries for a long time later, up tothe present time (Sibley, 1998).

Despitethe differences between the two powerhouses, it is important to pointout that USA and USSR were allies by 1945 and were jointly successfulin the 2ndworld war .The war ended with what could be termed as completevictories for the two nations. Their forces emerged victorious overAdolf Hitler and his Nazi empire in Europe(Taylor, 2001).After the war, however, the Allies who had collaborated in the samewar started engaging in a global struggle for dominance. Each of thetwo was determined to dominate the world militarily, economically,ideologically and politically (Sibley,1998).It is this struggle for dominance that later came to be termed as thecold war. The birth of the cold war could be backdated to 12th April1945 after USA president, Franklin Roosevelt died of brain hemorrhage(Taylor, 2001).The tragedy gave way to Harry Truman to become the president despitehaving only a high school education and lack of experience.

Itwould be proper to say that the consequences of the ww2 led to theemergence of the cold war.WW2 destroyed all the major rivals that hadexisted to USA and USSR. The two emerged from the war as the only twonations that could dream enough to influence the world in social andpolitical spheres leading to the emergence of the struggle. Each ofthem had an active military and capabilities to change theirideologies in the world(Taylor, 2001).That created fear and mistrust between the two countries, plantingsome of the earliest seeds of terror activities(Taylor, 2001).This is informed by the fact that they started strategies aimed atdestroying each other’s area of interest through intelligence andspying missions. Since then the two nations have always been on theopposing side in almost every global issue. For example, SouthVietnam advocated for an anti-communism agenda and was supplied witharms by the Americans in the war against North Vietnam. The latterwas pro –communist and used weapons from Russia and China to fightthe south, and the Americans. The Americans also supplied the rebelsin Afghanistan with weapons after the invasion by USSR in 1979.Theseare some of the earliest dynamisms of terror as it is known today inthe world(Taylor, 2001).

TheFirst Persian Gulf War In 1991

ThePersian Gulf War was necessitated after Iraq president ordered theinvasion of Kuwait at the beginning of 1990.The Arabic nations led bySaudi Arabia and Egypt were furious and called on the Westerncountries to intervene. This is after Saddam had defied the UnitedNations demand to withdraw by mid-1991.The war begun with a huge USoffensive, and the battle was won after approximately 42 days(Carlisle &amp Bowman, 2003).Most of the Iraqi army had been killed, surrendered or fled to escapethe wrath of the American army.

Theacceleration of globalization during the 1990s

Theacceleration of globalization has had an enormous effect on the waron terror. Due to the globalization, there have been the influencesof social, economic and political activities around the world(Council on Foreign Relations, 2003).The social, economic and political activities have been stretched somuch that all nations around the world are interacting at higherlevels than ever before. Due to globalization, different nations areable to exert and spread their influences on other regions of theglobe. There is influence of ideologies in all the spheres of life.Such stretching of these activities has a lot of influence on the waron terror as no region or zones, are distinct as was in the past(Council on Foreign Relations,2003).Globalization has informed the integration of ideologies andactivities in all the social economic spheres of the human endeavorand the repercussions have affected all ways of life of the peopleincluding the war on terror.

Accelerationof globalization in the 1090s ensured that there are intensificationand high levels of interconnectedness. This opened doors for tradedue to movement of goods and services which, led to foreigninvestments at higher rates than ever before. The acceleration alsoled to the migration of people around the world leading toassimilation and integration of cultures and religions(Scruton, 2002).The acceleration of globalization in the 1990s also increased therate of global processes due to the enhancement of all the systems.The advanced transportation systems and communication increased therate of diffusion of the entire process. It led to higher flows ofgoods and services across the borders. Information was fast andpeople could move with ease. This movement of people, goods, andservices has consequently had a huge effect on the war on terror asit`s easier for planning, movement of people and equipment such asguns and bomb materials(Scruton, 2002).

Dueto the accelerated globalization, effects of distant events could nowbe felt elsewhere as people are more integrated and involved inexchanges in a wide range of areas. It is not uncommon for localizeddevelopments to have a lot of effects on the global affairs. No eventis isolated anymore all have a lot of implications on the globalaffairs at a given time.

Theattacks of 9-11

Theattack on the world trade Centre in 2011 marked a turning point inthe war against terror. Militants who are believed to have beenconnected to the Al-Qaeda network had hijacked airliners which theydirected to twin tower building in a suicide attack in New York City(Farmer, 2009).Two of the planes hit the world trade center building while onecrashed in an open field in Pennsylvania while the fourth one hit thePentagon in Washington DC. The magnitude of the attack was hugeregarding numbers and effects(Farmer, 2009).There were a lot of deaths and damages. More than 3000 people werekilled and among them were 400 police officers. It was a milestone inthe presidency of George Bush. The attack was a wake-up call for theAmerican government as it initiated a wide range of measures aimed atfighting terror within the USA and around the world. The attack wascarried out by Islamic terrorists of Saudi descent and other Arabcountries(Farmer, 2009).

Americaninvasion of Afghanistan

TheAmerican invasion of Afghanistan took place at the end of 2001.TheUSA had the support of the principal allies primarily, Britain. Theinvasion occurred after the 9-11 attack, and its aim was to destroythe Al-Qaida network and destabilize its operational base inAfghanistan to diminish its terror activities(Coll, 2004).This was to be achieved through removal of the Taliban from power asit was believed to support the al-Qaida network and activities aroundthe world. The UK was the chief ally in the fight in Afghanistan,providing assistance to military action in the entire invasion. TheNATO joined the war later and was leading the NSAF(Coll, 2004).The USA President, George w. Bush requested for handing over of Osamabin Laden and the expulsion of the Al-Qaeda network from Afghanistan,but the offer was declined by the Taliban regime unless they wereprovided with evidence linking him to 9-11 attack(Coll, 2004).The administration also rejected the request to shut all operationalbases for the terror groups within Afghanistan and to hand over allthe terror suspects to the American government.

TheUSA and all its allies were able to destroy and remove the Talibanfrom power and constructed military bases in all the principal citiesin Afghanistan. However, most of the leaders of the terroristorganization escaped to neighboring Pakistan while others moved torural areas while others hid in the mountains(Coll, 2004).

Atthe end of 2001, the UN Security Council formed the InternationalSecurity Council assistance force (ISAF) whose mandate was to presideover the operation in Afghanistan and to train its security forces.

TheMarch 2003 invasion of Iraq

TheUSA and allies, mainly the UK initiated a war in Iraq in 2003.The USApresident, George Bush had earlier announced on the TV that the USAand its coalition forces were in the initial stages of militaryoperation for the disarmament of Iraq(Gordon &amp Trainor, 2006).The objective of the invasion was to free the Iraq people and defendthe world from dictators such as Saddam, who were considered a greatdanger to the entire world. Bush also claimed that the Saddam regimepossessed weapons of mass destruction and could not be entrusted withsuch destruction weapons. An ultimatum had been given to SaddamHussein to leave Iraq or face the war, but the former presidentignored, leading to the invasion(Gordon &amp Trainor, 2006).Although Saddam had vowed that he would not be shaken by the attack,he later went into hiding to escape the wrath of the Americanmissiles. He would occasionally address his people through recordedtapes(Gordon &amp Trainor, 2006).The allied forces toppled his regime and captured all the cities ofthe country within three weeks of invasion(Gordon &amp Trainor, 2006).The end of a major combat was on 1st may 2003.However, that formedthe beginning of insurgency that has continuously engaged in aguerilla war. The rebellion has caused a lot of deaths of thecoalition army and the civilians. The coalition forces engaged in anintensive manhunt in search of Saddam Hussein and succeeded, whenthey found him hiding underground 9miles from Tikrit town. He wasarrested charged and found guilty of mass killings. He was hanged on30 December 2006 after an unsuccessful appeal.

ObamaAdministration`s fight against ISIS

Withthe emergence of ISIS, The Obama administration has put up severalmeasures to dismantle the insurgents in Syria and Iraq(Ashbee, &amp Waddan, 2010).The idea of the policy is to degrade the insurgents from the center,at least according to Obama himself. The strategy aims to collaboratewith the domestic military operations and intense air campaign tocompletely eradicate the networks. The approach is continuous, withthe American government setting up the necessary conditions, togetherwith the Special Forces to deal with the rigid system. The strategyis to suffocate the network through cutting off the supplires ofweapons and financiers from the entire Middle East(Ashbee, &amp Waddan, 2010).Other measures include stopping the networks from radicalizationsprograms so that the number of militants could be drasticallyreduced. Though the focus is on Iraq and Syria, attention is alsogiven to similar networks around the world. This is based on the factthe network has the objective of having entrenched systems in all theregions of the world(Scheuer, &amp Brassey`s (Firm), 2004).

Butthe question is how these measures by USA, can bear fruits factoringin the complexities of the networks.

Waron Terror

Thewar on terror is an ideology that has been employed mainly by thewestern nations to paralyze the activities of Islamic insurgentsaround the world. Terrorism as known today has taken a completelydifferent perspective as it is no longer solely Islamic affairagainst the western nations. It is rather complex set of activitieswhose objectives are to resist the influence of the USA and itsallies in interfering in the internal affairs of other states. Theattack in 9-11 could be attributed to USA participation in PersianGulf War in 1991 and was a reaction by some Islamic states to warnthe USA that they were ready to defend their integrity(Farmer, 2009).

Mostof the terrorism activities have their genesis in the invasion of theMiddle East states by America and its allies.The war on terror ascurrently constituted will not end any time soon as the insurgentsare radicalized groups that employ guerilla tactics (Mayer,2008).More international relations should be explored to create betterstrategies to end the war. A system of inclusivity, where diplomacytakes the center stage should be employed more to win the fight(Scheuer, &amp Brassey`s (Firm), 2004).


Therealism theory holds the construct that states are unitary entitiesthat should conduct their affairs as they deem appropriate. Accordingto the theoretical concept, states are geographically based in aninternational system that has got no authority to regulate otherstates(Burchill &amp Linklater, 1996).Therefore, the construct of the theory is that no world governmentshould interfere in the national affairs of other states. One of thereasons why ISIS, For example, doesn`t recognize the mandate of theUSA as a world police is because ISIS subscribes to the realismtheory. The militant engages in the insurgent activities as a way toprotest against internal interference of the Islamic states by theUSA and other western powers. The primary concept of the theory isthat, state is sovereign and acts on their own to achieve theirsecurity and other interests. The role of the individual states ininternational relations is to protect individual interests(Burchill &amp Linklater, 1996).

Liberalismtheory construct holds that it`s the preferences of the state and nottheir capabilities that determine its behavior in relations withother international states(Baldwin, 2008).It allows for collaboration of countries to achieve some agreed setof objectives. Preferences are dependent on each state through theinfluences of the culture, politics and the economic systems of thecountries. The construct holds that the associations of states arenot limited to the political and security aspects of the countries.The interaction between the States could, therefore, be extended toeconomic and cultural aspects of the states. The States are thereforefree to engage in international relations with different areas andlevels of cooperation depend on the needs and interests of thecountries. The theory perpetuates the concept that states can makegains through cooperation, and hence, peace could be realized.

Constructivismtheory holds the notion that international relations should focus onhow concepts define international organization and how theorganization determines the preferences and identities of nations(Burchill &amp Linklater, 1996).The construct of this theory holds that international relations aredetermined by the ability of the states to persuade ideas, sharedvalues, cultures and other forms of social identities. Theconstructivism theory constructs that international relations aresocially constructed through the mental organization which providesmeanings to the material world(Baldwin, 2008).

Marxismand critical theory are theories that reject both the realist andliberal views of state disagreements and cooperation(Burchill &amp Linklater, 1996).The theory does not focus on economic or material aspects. The methodmakes the assumption that economic obsession is capitalistic innature and that states are out to make or achieve capitalaccumulation at the expense of other important aspects of thenations. The construct is that international economic relations aremeant to benefit someone but not for the welfare of states and themajority of the population.

Thefeminist theory to international to international relations on theother hand, emphasizes that the experiences of women are left out inthe matters of the international relations and should unconditionallybe included(Baldwin,2008).The proponents argue that gender issues are significant tointernational relations. The role of women and diplomatic wives inthe facilitation of sex trafficking is emphasized(Burchill &amp Linklater, 1996).The theory is, therefore, an integral part of the internationalrelations and should be given much more focus than has been the casein some states. The approach underscores the important role that thewomen play in the world politics based on the fact that women have alot of influence on political leaders, most of whom are men

Theinternational society theory which is also known as the liberalrealism constructs that there is a society of states at internationallevel in spite of the fact that there is no single ruler who could betermed as the leader of the community(Baldwin,2008).That assumption, therefore, confirms that there is no ruler of theworld but that willing state organizations should participate basedon their individual interests.

Greentheory holds the construct that the unity of science is important ininternational relations. According to proponents of the theory, thesocial sciences are comparable to natural resources that couldprevail in the states(Burchill &amp Linklater, 1996.Science unity should hence be given a lot of attention just likeother aspects that define the international relations among nations.

Thefunctionalism theory was informed by the experience of the Europeanintegration. The theory constructs that attention to shared interestsshould be the focus. The self-interests of the single states indetermining international relations should not apply(Baldwin, 2008).The proponents concentrate on the common interests shared by membersin the integration. States under the theory complement each otherdepending on their weaknesses and strengths. Once the integrationprocess gains momentum, it becomes extremely hard to halt

Usefultheories to explain this conflict

Theinternational society approach is quite helpful in solving theconflict in the war on terror. This is informed by the fact thatsociety of states that are affected by terror acts should developnecessary strategies to overcome terrorism in the world(Williams, B. (2010).The conflict is a threat to all international relations issues andshould be focused on by members of the international society. Theconflict could affect every member of the international societies ifthe proper measures are not put in place to end it.

Therealism theory is also essential in explaining the conflict. The USAand its allies initiated wars in the Middle East to protect theirindividual interests. The determination of the USA in dominating theworld comes into focus in this endeavor(Williams, B. (2010).The invasion of Iraq in 2003 in the guise of the search for weaponsof mass destruction is relevant in this. It has been felt in somequarters that terrorism in the world is fuelled by the USA in itsquest for dominance of the world politics.

The9-11 experience was an eye opener to foreign states to the extent inwhich the aggrieved Islamic countries were willing to go in their bidto defend the integrity of their states from interferences by thewestern nations(Williams, B. (2010).On the other hand, the experience gives more reason why societies ofcountries should unite and confront the common enemy, terrorism.

Therelationship between the USA and modern Russia can best be defined bythe constructivist theory of international relations(Council on Foreign Relations,2003).This is informed by the fact the two nations have got no sound ideasbetween them which could inform cooperation in specific areas in thewar on terror. They lack collective value or culture that couldoccasion the collaboration between the two powerhouses. This hascontinued since the times of the cold war. The essential element ofconstructivism is the belief that International politics is shaped bypersuasive ideas, collective values, culture, and social identities(Baldwin, 2008).


Thewar against terror is an unnecessary war that was started by The USAin its endeavor to dominate the world politics .The turning point inthe war was the 9-11 attack on USA soil. The Persian Gulf War in 1991could have been avoided through use of more diplomatic channels. Thesubsequent activities have led to an unending war that will continueto cause suffering of communities around the world. The USA and itsallies should conceive a better approach to halt the activities ofthe insurgents(Scheuer &amp Brassey`s (Firm), 2004).America’s continued interference in the internal affairs ofsovereign states only act to harden the stance of the insurgents


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