Terrorism counter terrorism British strategies Al Qaeda IRA
This essay compares the British strategies toward two different cases: the IRA and Al Qaeda. It underlines the main similarities and differences in both cases and also gives an overview of their historical facts.
Through the comparison of both cases, this essay shows how the similarities are representative of the weaknesses that might appear in counter terrorist strategies and why the war on terror seems to be a second Vietnam War in the making
[...] Obviously, the first justification for those acts was national security; after a terrorist attack the traumatized victims and civilians need their government to act and to secure them as promptly as possible. Extreme behaviors such as paranoia and xenophobia are typically adopted by public opinion in these situations; it therefore tends to be less objective than it might become a few years after the trauma, which consequently implies that the government's need to justify its acts comes after their implementation. [...]
[...] As a matter of fact, after the 9/11 attacks on the World trade center, President Bush declared the ‘war on terror' and ask to the International community to join America in this task. However, under this justification, he also launched a war on Iraq in 2003, which only the British Government agreed to participate. Also, the British military forces were sent to Northern Ireland to collaborate with local forces, such as the Police to put an end to the conflict, but a potential ‘invasion' of the region, in order to get the surrender of the terrorist, was not planed for IRA unlike in the Middle East where it was, in a certain way, concretized. [...]
[...] At first sight, considered as simple subjects to the British counter terrorism, those two subjects are quiet similar: both fought a war against the British Government to get rid of its presence. Both were non state actors and were using terrorism as the exclusive weapon to hurt their enemy. As Justin Schoeman states in the conclusion of his article “Religious groups in Iraq or Afghanistan model those of Northern Ireland”. However, such a superficial approach of terrorist groups doesn't allow a government to answer effectively to a terrorist attack: forgetting the personal, cultural or religious motivations and dealing with all terrorist groups as if they were the same might not be the good way to resolve those tensions. [...]
[...] To start with, we will focus of its ‘overseas' strategy and behavior. Obviously, the first difference that comes into our mind is the fact that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, whereas countries where the ‘war on terror' is fought are more distant, Afghanistan for instance; however, if we analyze the British strategies on both grounds, the difference is not that evident. In fact, both ‘counter wars' were lead as guerillas, in the sense that instead of having two armies fighting against each others, the British forces have been trying to locate the insurgents and particularly the potential leaders. [...]
[...] Obviously, those weapons were already existing at the time were IRA was fighting for independence, however, its motivation were far from being as extreme as Al Qaeda's one. Using those weapons ofmass destruction would have never helped IRA terrorist to reach their aims and would probably also have affected them; but in a perspective of fighting infidels and delivering sacred places, it might reveal an efficient mean. Finally comes the question of how the British government managed to justify those strategies and legislations to the public opinion. [...]
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