The Rise of Terrorism

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What are the effects of terrorism on world politics?

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It's difficult to generalize about this question, but if we select several key events from the past forty years, we can extrapolate patterns that have recurred as a response to terrorist acts.

In 1979, the takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran by radical Islamic students was widely regarded as a terrorist action intended to intimidate the US into extraditing Shah Reza Pahlavi to his home country. This was the beginning of a new polarization, eventually supplanting that of the old Cold War, in which the West (chiefly the US) now took an antagonistic stance toward not only Iran but the Muslim countries overall. But the response by the US primarily took the form of economic sanctions and the freezing of Iranian assets. The military response was weak and ineffective and was aimed only at freeing the hostages rather than attacking and punishing the Iranian state.

In 1983, the terrorist attack on the US Marine Base in Beirut, Lebanon, similarly did not provoke a military response but had the...

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