Terrorism: U. S. Response to Bombings in Kenya and Tanzania: A New Policy Direction? Page: 3 of 6
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from Martha's Vineyard, gave as one of four reasons for ordering the attacks :" because
they are seeking to develop chemical weapons and other dangerous weapons".2
Statements aside, the fact remains that this is the first time the U.S. has: (1) launched
and acknowledged a preemptive strike against a terrorist organization or network, (2)
launched such a strike within the territory of a state which presumably is not conclusively,
actively and directly to blame for the action triggering retaliation, (3) launched military
strikes at multiple terrorist targets within the territory of more than one foreign nation, and
(4) attacked a target where the avowed goal was not to attack a single individual terrorist,
but an organizational infrastructure instead. Moreover, in the case of the facility in Sudan,
the target was characterized as one that poses a longer term danger rather than an
Inherent in Administration statements and actions are allusions to a terrorism policy
which, in response to immediate casualties and a global vision of higher levels of
casualties is: (1) more global, less defensive, and more proactive; (2) more national
security oriented and less traditional law enforcement oriented, (3) more likely to use
military force and other proactive measures, (4) less likely to be constrained by national
boundaries when sanctuary is offered terrorists or their infrastructure in instances where
vital national security interests are at stake, and (5) generally more unilateral when other
measures fail, particularly if other nations do not make an effort to subscribe to like-
minded policies up front. A policy with such elements can be characterized as one shifting
from a long term diplomatic, economic and law enforcement approach to one which more
frequently relies on employment of military force and covert operations. Implied in such
a policy shift is the belief that though terrorism increasingly poses a threat to all nations,
all nations may not sign up with equal commitment in the battle against it and bear the full
financial and retaliatory costs of engagement. In such an environment, the aggrieved
nations with the most at stake must lead the battle and may need to take the strongest
What Are the Pros and Cons of Such a Shift?
Arguments in favor of a proactive deterrent policy. Such a policy: (1) shows
strength and world leadership--i.e., other nations are less inclined to support leaders that
look weak and act ineffectively; (2) provides disincentives for other would be terrorists;
(3) is more cost-effective by thwarting enemy actions rather than trying to harden all
potential targets, waiting for the enemy to strike, and suffering damage; (4) may truly
damage or disrupt the enemy--dry up his safehavens--sources of funds and weapons and
limit his ability to operate, and (5) provides governments unhappy with the U.S. response
an incentive to pursue bilateral and multilateral diplomatic and law enforcement remedies
2 See for example: The Policy: We are Ready to Act Again, editorial by Defense Secretary
William S. Cohen, Washington Post, August 23, 1998, p. C-1 and U.S. Hints at More Strikes
at bin-Laden by Eugene Robinson and Dana Priest, Washington Post, p. A-1 August 22, 1998.
An excellent series of excerpts from press conferences and TV interviews by Administration
officials which could be used to support the premise of a policy shift are found in the PBS
television series Jim Lehrer Newshour report of August 25, 1998. See also: New Rules in a New
Kind of War, by Peter Grier and Jonathan S. Landay, Christian Science Monitor, August 24,
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Terrorism: U. S. Response to Bombings in Kenya and Tanzania: A New Policy Direction?, report, September 1, 1998; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc805211/m1/3/: accessed January 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.