Terrorism and the Law

Courtesy Reuters

Terrorism poses important political and diplomatic challenges. It is designed to call attention, through the use of violence, to the causes espoused by terrorists, and to bring about changes in policy favorable to those causes. The United States and its allies—and all other affected nations—must deal with this threat to civilized order with all appropriate measures, ranging from diplomatic to military.

One potential means for dealing with terrorism is law. Americans are particularly attracted to the law as a means for repressing violence, and are committed domestically and internationally to using law to control criminal conduct and to resolve disputes. They invoke the law almost instinctively, and repeatedly, assuming that it regulates international conduct and, in particular, provides a system for bringing terrorists to justice.

Recent terrorist incidents have led to many efforts to use the law, virtually all of which have failed. The law has a poor

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