Armed Hostilities

Predictability and Transparency in the US-Soviet Confrontation

Table of Contents
  1. Predictability and transparency
  2. Challenging General Howard’s premise
  3. Relevance of the past (cold war) in homeland security
  4. How we can learn from the future
  5. References

Predictability and transparency

Russ Howard asserts that there was predictability in the US-Soviet confrontation because the weapons capabilities of both nations were common knowledge. The US understood the extent to which Russia had invested in nuclear technology and the same may be said of the Soviets concerning the United States. Furthermore, because both parties were state actors, then their actions were restricted by international laws and this made them more accountable. Transparency within the cold war confrontation was witnessed when both actors stated their aims and the means they were willing to take in order to achieve them. Most of these aims were political in nature and quite straightforward. (Howard, n.d.)

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One can apply several things from this US-Soviet confrontation to the war on terror. The cold war can act as a platform for contrasting how new terrorism has evolved. For instance, while the US-Soviet confrontation involved state actors; new terrorism involves non-state actors that are not accountable to any entity. The transnational nature of this new wave of terrorism presents a greater danger. Also, the US-Soviet confrontation involved political ideologies but new terrorism is an amalgamation of religious and political ideologies which are quite difficult to deal with.

Challenging General Howard’s premise

One of the major premises that General Howard utilizes in making his assertions in the nine eleven attacks is that these attacks bring out the new methods of training, financing, and attacking that terrorists are employing. However merely focusing on the 9/11 event may impede the success of counterterrorism attacks because different issues are arising. Instead, other aspects such as the association with extremist movements and Jihadist terrorism need to be employed.

This was a view supported by Kate Marquis. Furthermore, General Howard makes the assumption that the new wave of terrorism is no longer afraid of the use of weapons of mass destruction. However, John Parachini asserts that there are several technical hurdles that come in the way of their use thus indicating why the proof of their application is still relatively minimal.

Relevance of the past (cold war) in homeland security

The cold war illustrates how certain methods are appropriate for certain scenarios. For instance, the use of military attacks was very effective for an enemy that had a hierarchical structure. However, because terrorists now employ cellular structures then new strategies must be sought. The cold war also taught the US the importance of strategy since no confrontation can be waged without a strategy. Currently, strategic terrorism through the use of economical and political tactics has come into effect. (Howard et al., 2006)

How we can learn from the future

The future brings in some essential highlights in the way the problem of terrorism needs to be tackled. In light of changing patterns in terrorism, diplomacy can be more appropriate; here, international players are bound by state laws on state sponsoring weapons. Also, a focus on prevention rather than just reaction to attacks against the homeland needs to be emphasized. In the past, it was suitable to use the reactive approach because the US was thought to be invulnerable.

It is also critical to consider the effect of Islamic extremisms in any counterterrorism activities as the future shows that most of these individuals are no longer afraid of mass casualties. Getting to understand the network structure of these terrorist movements and disrupting them will also heighten security in the United States.

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Howard, R., Forest, J. & Moore, J. (2006). Homeland security and terrorism. NY: McGrawhill publishers.

Howard, R. (n.d.). Homeland security and new terrorism. NY: McGraw hill.

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