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Countering the New Terrorism

NCJ Number
Ian O. Lesser; Bruce Hoffman; John Arquilla; David Ronfeldt; Michele Zanini
Date Published
167 pages
This book traces the recent evolution of international terrorism against civilian and U.S. military targets, offers judgements on the future directions of terrorism, and proposes strategies for its containment.
The three papers contained in this volume were written as contributions to a year-long project on "Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Implications for Strategy and USAF (U.S. Air Force) Planning," conducted within the Strategy and Doctrine Program of RAND's Project AIR FORCE. The project was designed to help the Air Force address its own "force protection" concerns, as well as to contribute to the broader national and international debate on terrorism. The findings should be of interest to a wide audience interested in terrorism, counterterrorism, and national security policy. The three papers presented were selected because they reflect the project's key findings. One paper charts trends and future patterns in international terrorism against civilian and military targets, along with their implications. It also offers some broader observations on terrorist risks to the United States and the utility of military responses. Other topics addressed in this paper are the rise of new types of terrorists, changing motivations, and the traditionally incremental character of terrorists' tactical innovation. The author identifies the key factors in the increasing lethality of international terrorist acts, despite a steady decrease in the overall number of incidents worldwide. The second paper addresses the controversial issue of terrorism in the information age. It assesses the significance and organization of information-age terrorism and possible responses. The third paper places terrorism and counterterrorism in strategic context, with an emphasis on the new dimensions of terrorism discussed in the other two papers. It offers a typology of terrorist risks to U.S. interests and discusses the changing geopolitics of terrorism. The paper's conclusion points to a strategy and national capabilities tailored to dealing with the problems of individuals, small non-state actors, and networks in addition to the identifiable state sponsors that have been the traditional objects of air power in the service of counterterrorism. Subject index