War is the most powerful threat we have on the earth today. War can accomplish a variety of things in a variety of ways and it is entirely up to the government to decide to send their country to war. Of course, a government will take into account the general population's opinion, which has the choice to support or oppose the decisions made by their government, but most countries are divided between pro and anti-war sentiments. Since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 in America and the London Bombings on July 7th 2005, the UK government, along with the US, have declared a 'War on Terror.
' At present, the campaign is ongoing in Afghanistan, the base for al-Qaeda, which has became the global target for anti-terrorism action in the name of eradicating terrorists and preventing future attacks. This has had both negative and positive effects on not only British and American nationals but also Afghanistan and its people. Thousands of Afghani civilians have lost their homes, many more killed. The existing poverty throughout their country has increased dramatically with the outbreak of war, with food and water shortages threatening their survival.
Many have become refugees, fleeing into neighbouring Pakistan, among other countries, to escape the conflict and seek asylum, the majority of who are merely held in detention. On the other hand, however, the 'War on Terror' succeeded in a short period of time in removing the regime that had been sponsoring the terrorist organisation al-Qaeda that had subjected the Afghan people to six years of oppression, particularly of women. It also caused much interruption to the al-Qaeda base, with many operatives captured or killed, and plans for future attacks uncovered in their bases.
Therefore, the campaign could be considered a blessing for many people of Afghanistan, some of who are now returning to their homes or trying to rebuild their lives in a 'newly-created freedom, overseen by a somewhat democratic government. '1 Over the last decade terrorism has had an impact on people and nations far greater than ever before. The events of September 11 triggered an international outcry, and the subsequent attacks in London produced the recognition that no-one is safe wherever they are in the world.
In order to ensure the UK's safety and bolster national defence, Parliament has passed some wide-ranging legislation that has had a significant impact on the powers available to the police and security services, such as the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001; the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005; the Terrorism Act 2006; and the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008. The UK has a long history of terrorism legislation, first introduced in the 1970s to combat political violence in Northern Ireland.
Such legislation has invariably been presented as temporary and, with the exception of the recent legislation, as an emergency measure, in response to particular or anticipated events. The Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 initially enabled the home secretary to indefinitely detain, without charge or trial, foreign nationals who are suspected of terrorism along with the ability to freeze bank accounts and assets of suspected terrorists.
The Terrorism Act 2006 has also extended the pre-charge detention period from 14 to 28 days and widens the definition of terrorism to apply to domestic terrorism to include any political, religious or ideological cause that uses or threatens violence against people or property. Ultimately this legislation creates new offences of inciting terrorism, outlaws terrorist groups and enhances police powers including stop and search and detention.
The Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 has introduced control orders, which allow the government to restrict the activities of individuals it suspects of involvement in terrorist-related activity, but for whom there is not sufficient evidence to charge and along with The Counter-Terrorism Act 2008, enables post-charge questioning of terrorist suspects and allows constables to take fingerprints and DNA samples from individuals suspected of terrorism.
The implementation and the effects of many of these laws, some of which undermine the rights to freedom of expression, association, liberty and fair trial, are a key source of criticism, with many refusing to accept that the government's assessment of the level of the threat from terrorism justifies their extent. It has been argued that this new national security agenda has increasingly eroded the liberties enshrined in international human rights and humanitarian law under The Human Rights Act 1998, and national constitutions protecting human or civil rights.
This has threatened the independence of the judiciary and although it has been used to justify and attacks on civil liberties, opinion has been divided over the ability of the Human Rights Act to have any real impact on the enforcement of Britain's counter-terrorism laws. An example of this is the 2004 decision by the House of Lords condemning part of the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001 as incompatible with human rights by providing for the indefinite detention of terrorist suspects and discriminating against them on the ground of nationality or immigration status.
The right to free speech faces the strongest challenges during times of war. Whether or not any of us agree about each particular decision made to prevent public access to sensitive information, it is both the government and the media's responsibility to make known certain information so that we as a society are aware of what is no longer available to us. Terrorism has existed for centuries as a means of making a government or group aware of a desire that they have to change something by creating destruction and fear.
It will be argued that the mass media, intensified through the processes of globalisation, plays a huge part in spreading the fear that terrorism generates. The threat and occurrence of violence on a global scale towards civilians, in the form of terrorist attacks, as opposed to towards soldiers or military personnel, has increased as conventional global wars no longer operate as they did in the first half of the 20th Century. Wars between democratic nations and their armies since then no longer occur, however, civilians are now targets of large-scale violence by groups without direct management from national leaders.
Modern terrorist attacks are therefore attacks on people representing the whole of society, not restricting the threat to just armed soldiers. Individuals can find themselves victims of terrorist actions, a relative or friend of a victim, a witness to the actual event, or an observer of the news broadcast in some form. The immediate and direct impacts of war and terrorism are obvious. War is one of the most significant causes of migration as people flee the theatre of conflict. Not only do bombs, artillery etc cause civilians to vacate their houses and lands but so do invading armed forces, land, building, food and resource acquisition.
Many past and recent conflicts have caused mass migrations to neighbouring countries where refugee camps have been established to provide basic shelter and food. Some of these camps have been short lived but others have become permanent settlements. Whatever the case, and whatever the cause which may be famine, natural disasters and resource conflicts rather than war, refugee camps cause rapid and drastic environmental change. There can be no doubt that the impact of war and terrorism has an impact on peoples' lives and such impacts could also be detrimental to human's physical and mental well being in the short and long terms.
- Jamieson. A, (1995), 'Terrorism', Thomson Learning, New York.
- Noemi. G. A, (1991), 'Tolerating Terrorism in the West: An International Survey', Routledge, London.
- O'Callaghan. T. & Griffiths. M, (2002), 'International Relations: The Key Concepts', Routledge, London
- Shawcross. W, (2000), 'Deliver Us From Evil', Bloomsbury, London.
- Soskis. D. A, (1982), 'Victims of Terrorism', Westview Press, Colorado.
- Little. R. & Smith. M, (1997), 'Issues In World Politics', Macmillan Press, U.K.
- Spybey. T, (1996), 'Globalisation and World Society', Polity Press, Cambridge.
- 'BBC History: September 11 in Context', from http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/war/sept_11/changing_faces_04.shtml cited 18/11/2010
- http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/jul/07/terrorism-policy-flaws-attacks-police-chief cited 18/11/2010