The attacks on September 11
2001 (9/11) undoubtedly illustrate a shift in primary motivation for terrorism to the religious and fundamentalist realm. However, before the wave of extremist Islamic terrorism that the world is facing currently, other terrorist organisations threatened and disrupted the peace within the international security environment. Nationalist and often separatist ideologies were considered the main motivation for terrorism before the shift after 9/11. Examples of such separatist movements included the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which conducted terrorist operations against the United Kingdom throughout the late twentieth century. Another example of such terrorism that has prevented peace throughout the international security environment is the Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) that has conducted attacks within Spain and France, killing over 820 people to date.
Terrorism throughout the past century has evolved and changed continuously, from its motivators to the way in which it is conducted. However, terrorism has always been a constant threat to the international security environment and with no real end to terrorism in sight, as political and religious ideologies clash around the world, it is not far-fetched to believe that terrorism may be viewed, in some way, as a norm for the international security environment.
The future of international security environment suggests that war, not peace, is going to be the norm within among the global stage. Trends in religious and ideological conflicts across Africa and the Middle East in recent decades suggest international intervention will occur with varying degrees of success. Furthermore, these international interventions will cause a mixed reaction and divide public opinion among many of the contributing nations; we have already seen riots and uproar in retaliation to coalition bombing across the Middle East in recent years.
In the more immediate future of international security, transnational terrorism motivated by religious or fundamentalist views will continue to threaten and disrupt peace across the global stage, as it has done for the past seventeen years. This problem may become exacerbated by the refuge crisis, where optimistic would-be terrorists are travelling to countries under the false pretence of seeking asylum. Furthermore, as international intervention increases, and organisations continue to use social media and cyber warfare as a means to conduct terrorist activities, home grown terrorism will continue to prevent peace within the international security environment.
With both The United States and North Korea having potentially as volatile and unpredictable leaders as each other, the potential for all out, potentially nuclear, warfare is gradually increasing. This ever-increasing tension within the international community has strained relations and put the international community on edge, awaiting either side’s next move.
Throughout human history, conflict and war have been an ever-present factor in life and while the technology and nature of warfare may have changed dramatically over centuries, the reasons and motives behind conflict and war have not. Religion, money, power, territory and fundamental ideologies are just some examples of the catalysts that have ignited the war machine throughout history. One can argue however that religion and ideological conflicts can be seen as a constant factor in international conflicts. From The Crusades sanctioned by the Latin Church against Muslims, fighting over territory that both religions believed to be sacred, to the modern day so called ‘Islamic State’ attempting to secure a caliphate in Iraq; religion and conflicting ideologies have been and will ever continue to be a key reason behind conflict. Throughout recent decades, the Middle East has been at the epicentre of religious tensions that have not only seen conflict within the countries themselves but have had large negative impacts around the world, from the refugee crises to increased political tensions between the superpowers of the world.
It can therefore be argued that religious conflict is a trend that can indirectly influence the international security environment in such a way that it undermines the peace that the international community seeks to establish.
Peace within the international security environment seems a long way off with threats to national and international security abundant. Moreover, the trends in conflict in recent decades would suggest that war, not peace is the norm and while there have been sporadic periods of peace within the international community, the threat of conflict has always loomed.