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The Long Shadow of 9/11: America's Response to Terrorism

The Long Shadow of 9/11: America's Response to Terrorism edited by Brian Michael Jenkins and John Paul Godges. RAND, 2011, 222 pp. 

The Long Shadow of 9/11 is an anthology of essays that build a foundation of thought around five categories formulated by editors Brian Jenkins and John Godges. Both are qualified to edit a text of this nature due to their respective experience in the fields of terrorism and publication. Jenkins, a senior advisor to the RAND Corporation president, initiated RAND’s research division of terrorism in 1972 and has authored three books on the subject. Godges serves as editor in chief for RAND and has also authored one book. The editors have arranged this work in five parts encompassing the political, social, economic, and moral implications for Americans in the wake of 9/11, with the fifth part providing a next-step approach. All essays are written by RAND field correspondents, psychologists, analysts, or political scientists. Together, they encapsulate the US response to global terrorism following 9/11.

Part 1, entitled “Humbled by Hubris,” sets the mood for what is to follow. It describes the US reaction to 9/11 and supplanting a model of government in Afghanistan that would work in the aftermath of that reaction. It also discusses the consequences of tribal networking in Afghanistan and intervention in both Iraq and Afghanistan. One author concludes we reacted out of sheer emotion, as anyone could imagine, rather than relying on clear, concise information about a network that shifted dynamics to maintain its secrecy. Another concludes that supplanting a government with Western ideals can be difficult without the support and structure of the host nation, problems experienced in Iraq as well. This section opens a “long war” outlook that introduces other variables to reinforce strategy.

Terrorism is supported through a variety of means, as discussed in Part 2, “Hopeful amid Extreme Ideologies and Intense Fears.” One is ideological in nature, while others include the use of propaganda and fear to control. The clash between the United States and al-Qaeda generated the question in the West and within Islam whether the wide use of propaganda and, of course, nuclear terrorism is a cause for concern for most in addition to ideology. This work demystifies the latter and implies that acquiring nuclear technology is not as easy as the propaganda would suggest. Social and psychological implications to the US response are conveyed in “Torn Between physical Battles and Moral Conflicts.” Along with the economic output of military involvement, the social and psychological perspectives of US involvement shifted considerably within the past decade. Media outlets published daily reports of improvised bombings, troop engagements, or other violence in Iraq or Afghanistan that would not only affect service members, but also the support from Americans at home. These implications not only applied to Americans, but it is argued that al-Qaeda also had its own internal conflict that affected its goals and agenda.

Our future steps to detect, deter, and defend—terms suggested in an outside work by expert Paul Kamolnick but not identified in this work—against terrorist activities at home and abroad are researched through the study of US infrastructure and policies in the concluding sections, “Driven by Unreasonable Demands” and “Inspired to Build a Stronger America.” Incorporating airline security techniques to implement and maintain security of other means of transportation opens the field of cargo shipping for further investigation and analysis. Based on counterfactual information, there is a need for multiple government functions to mobilize in the event a terrorist attack occurs, and this is suggested through a look into the public health system. There must be a constant line of communication between law enforcement and counterintelligence officials so information is communicated in a timely and efficient manner so deterrence could be effective. The constant revitalization of policy and diplomacy must be revisited frequently to create a defense network against terrorists. If we are constantly moving diplomatically on the issue, then the enemy will have to adjust.

The Long Shadow of 9/11 incorporates the workings of experts in the field, but the bias is that this work is entirely from an American perspective. The use of RAND affiliates work would suggest that RAND incorporates an environment of “involvement” from within. This work could be used as a college text or supplement, or be added to a scholarly collection, or for an expert in the field. Further reading should suggest the work of Colin Gray on Hard and Soft Power and Paul Kamolnick, both outside professors and writer’s on strategy and terrorism.

Matt Meador

"The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of the US government or the Department of Defense."

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