Following the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the most significant threats to international security now purportedly come from non-state actors, particularly global terrorists. Counterterrorism has become one of the key objectives of Western security policies. Even before the September 11 attacks, the United States targeted Al Qaeda following the Twin Tower bombings and attacks on the US embassy in Kenya. Bombs were dropped on alleged Al Qaeda training camps and states that were believed to harbor terrorists were threatened with coercive measures. However, it was only after the September 11 attacks that a significantly more hawkish counterterrorism strategy took shape. Not only was the use of force central to this new strategy, but so was the initiation of war and even the invasion and occupation of countries that were believed to support or harbor terrorists. The Afghanistan war epitomised this shift in strategy, but the new doctrine also influenced thinking on the invasion of Iraq, with many security experts warning of a potential alliance between dictators such as Saddam Hussein and international terrorists that sought Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). Those that champion war as a means to fighting international terrorism argue that allowing states to support or harbor terrorists endangers national security and makes terrorist attacks far more likely. Invasion can be effective in disrupting terrorist networks and cutting international terrorists off from the states that provide them with resources or sanctuaries. Moreover, by engaging in 'nation-building,' Western nations can combat the social roots of terrorism by promoting democracy, alleviating poverty, tackling human rights abuses, empowering women, and discrediting extremist ideologies. However, critics argue that invading other countries only increases the risk of terrorism. Occupying foreign lands, killing civilians through military action, and trying to implement Western forms of democracy only strengthens the recruitment base of terrorist organisations. Furthermore, invasions and occupations are far too costly for the public and economy to endure. International police action, and not invasion, is the only suitable method for tackling global terrorism.
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