Military Force May Not Be Ruled Out

by Brian Michael Jenkins

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This paper discusses options open to the United States in responding to two kinds of terrorism: "Ordinary" terrorism, committed by diverse terrorist groups, is the responsibility of the local government, and the U.S. response has been, and should remain, defensive. State-sponsored terrorism, instigated and directed by a handful of state sponsors now concentrated in the Middle East, is deadlier and can have a greater impact on U.S. foreign policy. The United States might apply diplomatic and economic sanctions to the state sponsors of terrorist acts; or it might lay the evidence before the Congress and the public and seek a resolution authorizing actions consistent with belligerent status, including the use of force; or it might use covert action. The author discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.

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