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Conflict in the 21st Century: Counterstrategies for the Wmd Terrorist

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For years, the US military has prepared to fight against opponents armed with nuclear, biological, and chemical capabilities. These weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the hands of traditional, state actors have been at the forefront of US defense planning. The end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union have allowed us to focus on new threats to US security. W For years, the US military has prepared to fight against opponents armed with nuclear, biological, and chemical capabilities. These weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the hands of traditional, state actors have been at the forefront of US defense planning. The end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union have allowed us to focus on new threats to US security. WMD terrorism will play a larger role in this new uncertain security environment for several reasons. First, transnational threats are no longer kept in check by a bipolar world. Secondly, terrorists may have greater access to WMD materials today than ever before. And thirdly, the information revolution has made not only weaponization knowledge freely available, but has also improved the organizational capabilities of diverse terrorist groups. This paper examines the WMD terrorist threat and addresses counter-strategies for reducing the risk. Conclusions include a need for heightened awareness of the threat. Recommendations include strengthening domestic and international controls and legal structures regarding WMD materials, using diplomatic pressure and economic means to deter or reduce the likelihood of WMD terrorism, and improving defensive and responsive capabilities.


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For years, the US military has prepared to fight against opponents armed with nuclear, biological, and chemical capabilities. These weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the hands of traditional, state actors have been at the forefront of US defense planning. The end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union have allowed us to focus on new threats to US security. W For years, the US military has prepared to fight against opponents armed with nuclear, biological, and chemical capabilities. These weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the hands of traditional, state actors have been at the forefront of US defense planning. The end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union have allowed us to focus on new threats to US security. WMD terrorism will play a larger role in this new uncertain security environment for several reasons. First, transnational threats are no longer kept in check by a bipolar world. Secondly, terrorists may have greater access to WMD materials today than ever before. And thirdly, the information revolution has made not only weaponization knowledge freely available, but has also improved the organizational capabilities of diverse terrorist groups. This paper examines the WMD terrorist threat and addresses counter-strategies for reducing the risk. Conclusions include a need for heightened awareness of the threat. Recommendations include strengthening domestic and international controls and legal structures regarding WMD materials, using diplomatic pressure and economic means to deter or reduce the likelihood of WMD terrorism, and improving defensive and responsive capabilities.

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