Discovery Guides Areas


Terrorism: Security and Ambiguity
(Released May 2002)

  by Tyrone Nagai  


Key Citations

Web Sites




Arms race: Competitive building up of armaments by actors in a (potential) conflict that proceeds in an action-reaction pattern.

Asymmetric threat: The use of crude, low-tech methods to attack a superior high-tech enemy.

Civil liberties: Freedoms that protect the individual from arbitrary government interference (as with the freedom of speech and movement).

Deterrence: Conditional commitment to retaliate or to exact retribution if another party fails to behave in a desired, compliant manner. Deterrence concentrates exclusively on negative sanctions or threats.

Hamas: A radical Islamic organization operating primarily in the Gaza Strip and West Bank whose goal is to establish an Islamic Palestinian state in place of Israel. Hamas operates openly through the delivery of social services, but its activists have also conducted many attacks, including suicide bombings, against Israeli civilians and military targets.

National Missile Defense (NMD): A defense system intended to protect the U.S. from intercontinental ballistic missiles fired by rogue states. Interceptor missiles and radar would be placed in Alaska and North Dakota. NMD is a morphed version of former President Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) of the 1980s.

Organization of the Islamic Conference: An intergovernmental organization of 56 Islamic states promoting Muslim solidarity in economic, social, and political affairs since 1969.

Peacekeeping: Third-party role played by military or civilian actors in a violent conflict situation in which the goals are to eliminate violence and engineer a truce.

Politicization: Giving something a political tone or character.

Post-conflict development: The reorganization and reestablishment of states following a war.

Rogue state: A state that allegedly seeks weapons of mass destruction despite international pressure, often engages in widespread suppression of human rights, sponsors or encourages terrorist activities, and challenges the primacy of the U.S.

Rule-of-law: Predominance of law over discretionary authority of public officials.

Theater Missile Defense (TMD): A defense system that aims at protecting Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan from intermediate range ballistic missiles from North Korea.

Weapon of mass destruction: Any weapon or device that is intended, or has the capability, to cause death or serious bodily injury to a significant number of people through the release, dissemination, or impact of toxic or poisonous chemicals or their precursors, a disease organism, or radiation or radioactivity.