US Terror Attacks: Weapon of Mass Destruction

If men armed only with knives can cause such mass destruction, the world must review its assessment of threats. Terror has become an end in itself, western society the target.

The World Today Published 1 October 2001 Updated 26 October 2020 4 minute READ

Tim Garden

Visiting Professor, Centre for Defence Studies, King’s College London

The academic community has been warning of the new age of asymmetric warfare since the end of the Cold War. Critics of expensive high tech military capability, exemplified by Washington’s national missile defence scheme, have pointed out that western powers are increasingly vulnerable to unsophisticated attacks by determined non-state actors.

The crude bomb has been the terrorist’s weapon for more than a century, and yet its effectiveness has increased as commercial and government infrastructure has become more complex. But the assumption has been that terrorists will tailor their actions to further their political ambitions. This calculus changes if the aim of the terrorist is entirely the destruction of western society.

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