How should the United States respond to the threat of terrorism?
Eighth edition. March 2016.
September 11, 2001, marked a pivotal moment for many people in the United States. It was also a vital moment for U.S. policy. The U.S. government changed its foreign policy, leading wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that it claimed were necessary to fight terrorism. Changes also took place at home. September 11 created a climate of fear, uncertainty, and religious and racial tensions. The U.S. government passed laws and developed programs that it argued were necessary to protect security but that critics argued violated the Constitution. Today, with the persistence of extremist Muslim terrorism and right-wing terror, concerns about terrorism persist and raise important questions about how to respond. What is the best way to respond to terrorism? How great is the threat? What must be done overseas? What should be done in the United States? Responding to Terrorism: Challenges for Democracy helps students consider these important issues and prepares them to advocate for different options for U.S. policy in a simulation set in the U.S. Senate.
The readings prepare students to consider the complexities of the U.S. response to terrorism. Part I of the reading traces the history and evolution of terrorism, showing how tactics and objectives have changed. Part II looks at the threat that terrorism poses in the United States and around the world. Part III explores the U.S. responses to terrorism and the issues that complicate the response.
Oral History and September 11Students explore the human dimension of the September 11 attacks by conducting an interview. Students consider the benefits and limitations of using oral history to learn about the past, and assess their own views on September 11.
Defining TerrorismStudents develop a working definition of terrorism by determining whether several groups described in case studies should be called "revolutionaries" or "terrorists." Students explore the debate over legitimate and illegitimate uses of force and listen to several scholars discuss the phrase, "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."
Interpreting Political CartoonsStudents review political cartoons on various topics including civil liberties, refugees, extremism, and the U.S. response to terrorism. The range of viewpoints helps students to understand the different values present in the debate about the response to terrorism.
The Options Role PlayWorking cooperatively to develop and present different U.S. policy options to U.S. senators, students clarify and evaluate alternative policy recommendations. An additional group serves as representatives from several UN countries who voice their concerns.
Joining the Debate on U.S. PolicyArmed with historical knowledge and a sense of their own values, students deliberate and then develop their own coherent recommendations. They then apply their policy recommendations to three hypothetical crises.
Additional reference material for added context and support.
Cleveland, William. A History of the Modern Middle East Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2012.
Douglas, Roger. Law, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Terrorism. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2014.
Hoffman, Bruce. Inside Terrorism. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.
Kurzman, Charles. The Missing Martyrs: Why There Are So Few Muslim Terrorists. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.
Stern, Jessica, and J. M Berger. ISIS: The State of Terror. First edition. New York: Ecco Press, 2015.
Wright, Lawrence. The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. New York: Knopf, 2006.