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Presidential Policies on Terrorism: From Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama

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Presidential Policies on Terrorism analyzes how the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama approached the problem of international terrorism and used force to deter and prevent terrorist attacks. Donna G. Starr-Deelen examines specific terrorist events and the administrations' reactions, along with the Presidential Policies on Terrorism analyzes how the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama approached the problem of international terrorism and used force to deter and prevent terrorist attacks. Donna G. Starr-Deelen examines specific terrorist events and the administrations' reactions, along with the administrations' choice between a law enforcement approach or a war paradigm in counterterrorism. Ronald Reagan's "war against terrorism" in the 1980's is juxtaposed with the "war on terror" launched by George W. Bush following 9/11. Concluding with an analysis of the Obama administration's approach to drone warfare and treatment of terrorism detainees, Presidential Policies on Terrorism demonstrates how far-reaching aspects of the war on terror continues to impact counterterrorism today.


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Presidential Policies on Terrorism analyzes how the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama approached the problem of international terrorism and used force to deter and prevent terrorist attacks. Donna G. Starr-Deelen examines specific terrorist events and the administrations' reactions, along with the Presidential Policies on Terrorism analyzes how the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama approached the problem of international terrorism and used force to deter and prevent terrorist attacks. Donna G. Starr-Deelen examines specific terrorist events and the administrations' reactions, along with the administrations' choice between a law enforcement approach or a war paradigm in counterterrorism. Ronald Reagan's "war against terrorism" in the 1980's is juxtaposed with the "war on terror" launched by George W. Bush following 9/11. Concluding with an analysis of the Obama administration's approach to drone warfare and treatment of terrorism detainees, Presidential Policies on Terrorism demonstrates how far-reaching aspects of the war on terror continues to impact counterterrorism today.

10 review for Presidential Policies on Terrorism: From Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama

  1. 4 out of 5

    Danuta B

    When I first started this book, I feared it would be too "technical" and "legalese" for me. That was not quite the case. This book will obviously be of interest to historians and those who study/follow terrorism issues, and I am neither of those (although I do enjoy history). The book is very well organized and sourced; the author clearly states the book's focus as NOT dealing with the social, political, or economic explanations for terrorism, nor does it include the issue of domestic terrorism. When I first started this book, I feared it would be too "technical" and "legalese" for me. That was not quite the case. This book will obviously be of interest to historians and those who study/follow terrorism issues, and I am neither of those (although I do enjoy history). The book is very well organized and sourced; the author clearly states the book's focus as NOT dealing with the social, political, or economic explanations for terrorism, nor does it include the issue of domestic terrorism. It does not deal with the WHY of terrorism but rather with HOW to fight terrorism, specifically, the policies developed by the US Government during the administrations of Presidents Reagan through [the first term of] Obama. She provides a strong introduction which includes explanations of the War Powers Resolution and the authority given to the president to use force, which appeared, to this reader at least, much more complicated and nuanced than one would think. I found especially interesting the section on "The Crime versus War Dichotomy," crime being essentially a law enforcement issue, dealt with after it occurs, whereas the goal in fighting terrorism is to prevent attacks, which could possibly require the preemptive use of military force. With neither of these approaches producing the desired effect, is there a third way, a third model, to address the unique nature of terrorism? Chapters 3 through 7 deal with each administration in turn, providing specific terrorist incidents that occurred during each president's tenure and the legal framework the USG used to deal (or not) with the incident. Each of these chapters ends with a Conclusion assessing [as feasible] the actions of that administration toward terrorism and terrorist attacks. These are not necessarily judgment calls -- although a very partisan reader may disagree -- but a place where the author explains the expanded use of military force and of executive power. Since the book begins with Reagan's administration, the author provides an excellent "Historical Context" to set the scene, including Reagan's worldview, especially as regards the Soviet Union; the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979; and the Iranian hostage crisis, to which many attribute Reagan's victory over Jimmy Carter. The author then reviews the particular terrorist acts during this administration, as well as the political scandal called the Iran-Contra Affair, which eventually helped to erect a "New Paradigm" legal theory during the Bush II administration. The [one-term] administration of George H. W. Bush had to deal with the end of the Cold War and the fall of communism in Europe/Eurasia, as well as the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the first Gulf War, but as the author notes, it was during this time that Islamic fundamentalists began to establish themselves in the power vacuum left behind in Afghanistan after Soviet troops left in 1989, and US disengagement on this front only served that purpose. The Clinton administration continued the general pattern on executive branch initiatives regarding use of force against international terrorism, but it was during the 1990s that "terrorism by groups" or non-state networks came to the fore and peaked, of course, soon after George W. Bush (Bush II) took office with the 9/11 attack on the WTC. This event dominates the chapter on the administration of Bush II, which also examines the influence of Dick Cheney and David Addington, who promoted the "New Paradigm" for the war on terror, to include an expanded use of extraordinary rendition. This latter point is what clearly distinguished the policies of the Bush II administration from previous ones. The lead-up to the war in Iraq (beginning March 2003) is obviously thoroughly examined. In her Conclusion for this chapter, the author stresses the links between the Reagan presidency and the second Bush administration, as regards, for example, bypassing congressional intent and opting for the "war" paradigm. The counterterrorism regime erected by the Bush II administration "plagued" the Obama administration's attempts to chart a new direction in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, during Obama's first term, he had to deal with the Arab Spring; the attack in Benghazi, Libya, that left US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead; and the beginning of the expanding civil war in Syria. In August 2009, then Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan announced the new administration's intention to pursue a "third way" for counterterrorism, which was neither the law enforcement paradigm nor the war on terror approach of previous administrations. How effective (or not) this approach is/was is discussed extensively in this chapter, along with the death of Usama bin Ladin, expanded use of drones, and targeted killings of terrorists, including of four American citizens. The book covers through the first year of the second Obama term, and the author notes in her Conclusion in this Chapter that there is "ample evidence" that the attempt to pursue a third way "is more cosmetic than substantive," and that the increased use of armed drones "closely resembles the second Bush administration's reliance on military solutions in the 'war on terror' approach." As I understand it, the last chapter, "The Legacy of the War on Terror," concludes that the expansion of executive power that occurred during the Bush II administration has continued and voices concerns about an "unaccountable executive branch" and the long-term effects of the US "failing to enforce its own duly enacted laws and treaties." Food for thought, indeed!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Luca Trenta

  3. 4 out of 5

    Elayne Deelen

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

  5. 5 out of 5

    Leo

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dave Beeman

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jerome

  8. 4 out of 5

    Hany

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rich

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kaela

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