Measurement criteria for the US war on terror: a pragmatic interpretation of just war theory and a critique of neo-conservative policies
Smythe, Nicholas A.
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Did the terrorist attacks of September 11th change the way the United States ought to contain, confront, or neutralize threats abroad? Or, can the US use the same set of tools and responses in crafting a response to terrorist threats, present and future? These are the questions that underlie the debates, discussions, critiques, and conclusions throughout this work on the US war on terror. After Al Qaeda attacked the US on September 11th 2001, the US launched its war on terror. This global war builds upon the premises of the just war tradition while using the policies of the American neoconservative movement. In essence, the neoconservative movement takes a piecemeal approach to just war theory in order to meet its various goals. This is embodied by politicians from both the left and right that represent this movement, particularly those that run the current American administration. The reason is that the neo-conservative agenda has become a pervasive part of American foreign policy and any discussion of the US execution of the war on terror must necessarily include a discussion of neoconservative practices within its literature review. The question posed with regard to the war on terror as it is currently executed is whether it is just against measures of just war theory and other normative measures. The measurement of the successes and failures of the war on terror is grounded in the overarching framework of just war theory because it represents the prevailing norms and the international community understandings with regard to the conduct of war and armed conflict. The thesis of this work believes that the US, despite its policy of preemption, has been successful in working within just war theory on the short term (tactical) level. However, in the long term (strategic) sense, where the goal is to ferret out the root causes of terrorism, the US has failed in the four years since September 11th.