Terrorism is defined as a violent attack meted on innocent people that might be either armed or unarmed. The innocent people include military personnel who are not deployed in the battlefields (Holland, 2012). On the other hand, foreign policy refers to the guidelines that a country uses to enhance its cooperation with other nations. The primary objectives of foreign policies include improving international relations and preserving economic interests. No single country is economically independent. Therefore, every nation needs other countries for economic growth. In some instances, a country’s foreign policies results in adverse effects on the lives of people living in other nations (Holland, 2012). Occasionally, the affected individuals tend to oppose the policies leading to the emergence of terrorist activities.
This research will focus on foreign policy as a primary cause of terrorism. The study is significant as it will act as an eye opener on the effects of foreign policies on terrorism. The Western countries have fought terrorism for decades. Today, a majority of the Western states spend heavily in the fight against terrorism. Understanding the correlation between terrorism and foreign policies will go a long way towards combating global terrorism. Therefore, this research will not only help to determine how foreign policies contribute to terrorism but also measures that can be taken to combat terror attacks.
This study intends to discuss the contribution of foreign policies to the emergence of terrorism and terrorist groups. The study hypothesizes that foreign policies are a primary cause of terrorism in the world.
According to Krieger and Meierrieks (2011), countries rely on one another for trade. Some states procure essential goods from their neighboring countries, thus guaranteeing the well-being of the citizens. On the other hand, some countries rely on others for financial assistance. The weak states, particularly in Africa rely on the America and European states for financial aid. It would be hard for the developing countries to offer social services without the help of foreign states. The perception that no state is self-sufficient led to the establishment of foreign policies to facilitate international relations.
In the contemporary world, the association between countries is measured based on trade. The developed nations source raw materials from the developing states. On the other hand, the developing countries buy finished goods from developed nations. It implies that both the developed and developing economies require one another for economic reasons (Krieger & Meierrieks, 2011). Whenever, the relationship between the states goes sour, the developed nations issue economic threats that in most cases oblige the developing countries to abide by their policies. The relationship among nations is solely based on economic interests (Krieger & Meierrieks, 2011). Countries value one another based on the economic benefits that they acquire.
Although some Muslim groups view terrorism as a means of expressing displeasure, the society perceive it as an avenue that powerful social movements use to achieve political and economic objectives. For decades, political leaders have been using force to secure power (Chaliand, 2007). Some political leaders use terrorism to instill fear in their subjects, therefore carrying on their agendas without opposition. The leaders brainwash their subjects and use them to execute terrorist attacks. Political leaders mostly use vulnerable citizens who are likely to fall for their tricks if promised money.
There are different categories of terrorist groups. The groups are classified according to their objectives and the reasons behind their establishment. However, the most common group comprises politically-motivated terrorists that oppose a legitimate government (Chaliand, 2007). The terrorists marshal the support of the citizens before they revolt against the government. Chaliand (2007) argues that terrorist groups are formed for reasonable ideologies. However, their beliefs change due to external forces that come from influential individuals and economic systems that fund their agenda. Sometimes, economic vulnerability of people turns them into terrorists and enemies of the state.
A majority of the present terrorist groups are out to oppose foreign policies that they deem oppressive and in opposition to their cultural norms. Chaliand (2007) argues that a majority of the developing countries enjoy their present freedom because they managed to surmount oppressive foreign policies imposed on them by developed states. A few individuals felt that the policies were harsh and only aimed at helping the developed countries to achieve their economic and political goals. As a result, they mobilized the citizens leading to rebellion. In the Middle East, the citizens believe that the presence of the American military and foreign missions suppress their economic and social freedom. Consequently, a few locals have established social groups with the aim of winning public support and opposing the presence of the Americans. In their opinion, the local governments collaborate with the United States to subjugate the citizens. The governments seek military support from the United States to overcome these groups. It underlines the reason the United States has many enemies in the Middle East (Chaliand, 2007).
Foreign policies aggravate terror acts in the world. The United States has foreign policies that are economically-driven. Whelehan (2012) holds that the United States leads to the economic battle and advocate for capitalism. Conversely, Russia leads in the advocacy of communism. Therefore, the two nations are ever on the lookout for states to influence economically and use them to meet their economic objectives (Whelehan, 2012). The primary reason the United States is helping to reconstruct the fallen governments in the Middle East is to ensure that they uphold capitalism. Indeed, the influence of United States in the Middle East has made it the largest consumer of oil produced in the region.
Foreign policies are considered as the most effective weapons of combating terrorism in the contemporary world. The developed nations use economic sanctions to fight terrorism perpetrated by the government against its people. Whelehan (2012) argues that economic sanctions cannot help to fight a terrorist group that is bent to ouster a legitimate government. The economic sanctions do not have direct effects on such terrorist groups. According to Chaliand (2007), foreign policies work as a catalyst for terrorist activities and cannot be used to counter terrorist activities.
Alkana (2014) maintains that the American foreign policies have led to the increase in the number of terror groups. The presence of the United States’ troops in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq has resulted in the emergence of the Islamic State (IS). Indeed, a majority of the members of the Islamic State were previously affiliated to Al Qaeda. Alkana (2014) posits, “Islamic State was created by not only the war in Iraq but also American terror-creating foreign policy” (p. 604). Scholars argue that the American foreign policies have resulted in the radicalization of the Middle East. In 1953, the United States facilitated the government change in Iran resulting in radicalization. Many Americans agree that the United States’ government ousted a democratically-elected prime minister due to his policies regarding the country’s oil. America is accused of funding and inviting Iranians to rebel against the government. Eventually, Iran fell into the hands of the fundamentalists, leading to the emergence of terror groups.
Security experts argue, “Waging war in the Middle East weakens national security and increases terrorism” (Bentley & Holland, 2013, p. 47). Terrorism arises as a result of killing innocent civilians. Counter-terrorism experts claim that waging war against countries that do not “pose an imminent threat to America’s national security increases the threat of terrorism” (Bentley & Holland, 2013, p. 51). The primary origin of terrorism is injuries to relatives and individuals. The war in Iraq did not target terrorism. Indeed, there were no members of the Al Qaeda before the Iraq war. The war resulted in the death of many innocent civilians. Besides, many civilians lost their property and livelihood. The Iraqis who felt betrayed by the American government opted to join terrorist groups to fight for their rights.
The researcher chose to conduct a qualitative study to validate the hypothesis of the research. The methods used in this paper included interviews with a Muslim cleric and Mrs. Ken Mora who was a former missionary and international activist in foreign affairs. Besides, the researcher carried out a review of scholarly works that address foreign policies and their effects on terrorism. The researcher followed the due diligence in the selection of the interviewees. The pollster considered numerous factors before settling on Mrs. Ken. First, the interviewee was versed in the foreign policy affairs. She had an understanding of terrorism and the impacts of the foreign policies on the menace. Second, the respondent had worked with United States’ military on a diplomatic mission to the Middle East. As a result, she had firsthand experience in what goes on in the battlefield. Moreover, she understood why terrorism exists despite the concerted effort by various states to curb the vice.
Third, Mrs. Ken had a good understanding of foreign policies. She knew the limits beyond which foreign policies may not exceed without having adverse effects on the United States. For these reasons, the researcher found her suitable for the study. On the other hand, the literature review provided insights into the research problem. It acted as an appropriate asset in determining the knowledge gap and validating the research hypothesis. Muslims are known to oppose all policies that tend to be in favor of Christians and western countries. Most Christians believe that Muslims hate them because of their faith. Thus, the researcher interviewed a Muslim cleric to determine if they use terrorism to fight Christianity.
According to the literature review, it is clear that foreign policies seek to achieve the interests of a country but not enhance international relations. The foreign policies help a country to accomplish economic gains. For instance, the United States has relaxed its foreign policies against the nations in the Middle East because they supply it with oil. According to Mrs. Ken, the United States cannot help in the fight against terrorist groups that operate in the Middle East. Mrs. Ken argues that the United States is hesitant to fight the governments that oppress the citizens if it realizes that its actions might have adverse effects on the American economy. The United States depends on Asian countries for its economy. In some Asian states, the American government has imposed foreign policies that annoy the citizens leading to terrorism. In Syria, the American government is keen to ensure that the Bashar Al-Assad government remains in power because it is instrumental in the propagation of the American interests..
Mrs. Ken argues that terrorism is a means of communication that the oppressed people use to address those in power. People turn to terrorism if they realize that it is hard to reach the leaders for dialogue. Individuals that believe the foreign policies of a particular state have adverse effects on their well-being tend to engage in terrorist acts as a way to frustrate the plans. Mrs. Ken argues that the participation of the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan led to increasing in terrorist groups. Today, the rate of death, violence and terror has gone high in both Iraq and Afghanistan due to the American policies. The cleric posited that Muslims and Christians have never been enemies. Besides, the cleric said that Muslims do not hate the Americans. However, the Muslims are against the American policies that they perceive to be oppressive. The cleric argued that Muslims turn to terrorism because they consider it as the ultimate weapon in the fight against western policies and culture.
The cleric claimed that prior to the Iraq war, there was nothing like the Al Qaeda group in the country. The citizens never knew about the terror group. However, the presence of American troops in Iraq and subsequent war left many Iraqis aggrieved. The only way that they could get even with the Americans is to join terror groups and stage attacks. The Al Qaeda saw the Iraqis as a soft target, thus influencing many to buy to its ideologies. The cleric was also categorical that the war between Israel and Palestine is a result of the most Western countries supporting hard-line policies that fail to recognize the establishment of a Palestinian state. The cleric alleged that the United States has for a long time opposed the creation of a Palestinian state and helped Israel to fight all effort aimed at creating the nation. According to the cleric, the United States’ policy of “Israeli Exceptionalism” has sparked anger among the Arab states leading to the emergence of terrorist groups.
The results of the research confirmed the hypothesis of the study. Both the literature review and the interviewees described the contribution of foreign policies to the increasing terrorism. The interviewees further supported their claims with substantial evidence. Hence, they helped to validate the hypothesis of the study. The findings did not in any way force the researcher to modify or negate the hypothesis of the study. Indeed, the results helped to reinforce the claim of the theory.
According to the results, it is evident that foreign policies have made some states inhabitable. The United States participated in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars with the sole objective of liberating the citizens from oppressive regimes. However, the U.S only managed to ouster the regimes but not to restore peace and order in the countries. The American policies against global terrorism are currently viewed as a war on Muslims. Unfortunately, even the Christians doubt the America’s foreign policies, especially in the Middle East. There is a need to revisit the foreign policies to win the war on terrorism. The current systems seem oppressive particularly to Muslim states. Thus, it is hard to convince the Muslims to support the war against terrorism because they view it as the ultimate way to liberate themselves. The United States and Western countries, in general, should revise their foreign policies. The American president should be ready to take measures that might not necessarily receive the support of the majority of the Americans. Based on the current trend of terrorism, the United States requires pursuing an even-handed policy.
The Western countries should be critical and considerate when making decisions. The terrorist attacks that are occasionally directed towards Israel can only be stopped if Western nations can agree to mediate and facilitate the establishment of a Palestinian state. Besides, the United States ought to be thoughtful and impartial when dealing with terror and violence perpetrated by either the Israel or the Palestine. The support of hard-line policies is what cause people to revolt and join terror groups. For instance, the support of the Israel policies is what leads to occasional wars between Israel and Palestine. The Western countries should change their strategies in the fight against global terrorism. Military experts argue that even though soldiers may help to contain, capture, and kill terrorists; they cannot contribute to winning the war on global terrorism. The war can only be won through diplomatic means. The United States and other Western states should endeavor to win the hearts and minds of Muslims across the globe as this is the only way that they can curb the spread of terrorism. Muslims do not hate Americans because of who they are, but due to what they do.
The policymakers should have a clear picture of how most Muslims perceive the world to handle the extremist and mainstream political Islam. Besides, they must have an understanding of how Muslims regard the Western countries. A study by the Gallup World Poll concluded that some Muslims are critical of the United States and Western nations. Indeed, some Muslims believe that the 9/11 attack was justified. However, a majority of the Muslims maintain that the 9/11 attack was not warranted. Besides, they are against all sorts of attacks that target innocent civilians. The only way that the Western countries can prevent those who believe that attacking innocent civilians is evil from joining terrorist groups is by coming up with active foreign policies.
The notion that Muslims hate Americans is wrong. Individuals who perpetuate this perception claim that Muslims hate Americans due to their success, way of life, social equality, and sovereignty. However, this is not the reality. Even though the extremists hate the Americans, many moderate Muslims share positive things about Western countries. Both the moderate and extremist Muslims claim that they envy the Western countries due to their level of technological advance, support of the rule of law, and hard work. Surprisingly, the extremists groups also wish that one day there will be cooperation between Muslim states and Western nations. It shows that even the extremist groups are not entirely opposed to the way of life of the Western nations. They would wish to live like the Western countries. What the groups are opposed to is the Western nations imposing their policies on them without consultation. Besides, they are against the Western nations undermining their sovereignty and cultural beliefs.
Muslims do not have a negative attitude towards all Western countries. They only have a negative attitude towards the countries that they feel to have oppressive foreign policies. For instance, most Muslims hate the United States and the United Kingdom due to their infringement on the affairs of the Muslim countries. On the other hand, many Muslims have a positive attitude towards Germany and France because they do not interfere with their lives. It underscores the impacts of foreign policies on the relationship between Muslim countries and Western states. Some Western nations are too hostile towards terrorism. Thus, they come up with stringent foreign policies without considering the effects that they might have on moderate Muslims. The United States and Western countries should understand that the war against terrorism requires patience. Therefore, rather than imposing stringent policies on the Muslim states, the Western countries should seek the help of the Islamic regimes to fight terrorism.
Western countries should be more considerate in their foreign policies. They should allow the Muslims to run their countries without interference. The Western nations should understand that their foreign policies have adverse effects on both the extremist and moderate Muslims. Failure to change the policies will only lead to the radicalization of the moderate Muslims. The war on terrorism cannot be won through drastic foreign policies. Instead, it requires patience and cooperation between the Western states and Muslim countries. Rather than imposing policies on the Muslims, the United States, and the United Kingdom should work with the Middle East countries to curb factors that contribute to radicalization. The use of military force has yielded no significant results in the fight against terrorists. The use of military force cannot stop terrorists who are determined to die for their ideologies. Hence, rather than relying on the military, the Western countries should work towards coming up with foreign policies that promote the rule of law and respect the rights of the Muslims to govern themselves. There is no doubt that terrorism is an evil that should be fought by all means. However, Western countries should ensure that they do not infringe on the rights of the moderate Muslims in the name of fighting terrorism. Doing so will only drive many into joining terror groups.
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