The Legal-Military Dilemma in the Response to International Terrorism
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Historically, the US appears to have responded inconsistently to similar acts of terrorism in two different ways, using either a law enforcement or military response. These legal and military responses can be either unilateral or multilateral. This study attempts to determine when each type of response is preferred by decisionmakers, both political leaders and their citizens. The hypotheses suggesting that a response is preferred depending upon terrorist attack success, location, and the terrorists' sociocultural similarities are tested in three experiments and examined in a case study. These three variables are believed, as suggested by the Cognitive Calculus concept, to cause an emotional reaction amongst the respondents resulting in them having a higher preference for the military and unilateral options. Whether or not the respondents were experiencing an emotional reaction was studied in each experiment as well as being tested in the third experiment by examining the respondents? selection of options based upon their success rates. The case study examined US government responses to the First World Trade Center bombing, the Bojinka Plot, the Khobar Towers bombing, and the September 11, 2001 attacks. The results of the experiments and case study suggest a calm and deliberative response by the respondents to acts of terrorism, with a greater preference for legal and multilateral responses to terrorism.
Allan, Matthew W. (2009). The Legal-Military Dilemma in the Response to International Terrorism. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from