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Terrorism: Current and Long Term Threats

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Despite the high level of anxiety the American people are currently experiencing, we may still not fully comprehend the seriousness of the current and near-term threats we confront or the longer-term consequences of the trends underscored so dramatically on September 11th. I say this not to arouse further alarm. I have never counted myself among the Apocalyticians who forecast scenarios of doom in lurid detail. In my own essays over the past 30 years, I have been skeptical of the notion that there is an inexorable progression in terrorism from car bombs to terrorist use of nuclear weapons. Rather, my purpose here is to warn against a return to complacency once the shock of September 11th has begun to wear off. Over the past decade, we have suffered a series of devastating terrorist attacks-attacks that in terms of the concentration and magnitude of casualties have been greater than anything experienced by other nations The 1993 World Trade Center bombing was followed by the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which was, in turn, followed by the events of September 11th -each attack worse than the last. However, because those attacks have been sporadic, the passage of time between them has allowed us to go back to business as usual. This time must be different. In that light, let me begin by discussing the current and near-term threats we face, before turning to the longer-term consequences of the trends emerging from September 11th.

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  • Civil Defense
  • Unconventional Warfare

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