At the moment when a nerve-racking world was dwelling on North Korea's threat to launch missiles, the explosion of twin bombs in Boston broke "the quiet before dawn", once again reminding Americans that the biggest threat remained at home. After more than a decade of War on Terror, the United States is still enveloped in the mist of terror
Who on earth committed the crime? The remnants of al-Qaeda? A single "jackal" or "a group of jackals"? An individual or some non-governmental organization? Or a zealous anti-American extremist organization? It is believed that the US police will eventually find the answer and the culprit(s) won't be able to escape the long arm of the law . However, as a planned and plotted terror attack, the culprit(s) targeted the attack at a "peace-loving and life-treasuring" sports event to hurt innocent civilians. This was equivalent to a declaration of war against the world and humankind. Without doubt, the terrorists intended to show their capability and existence by arousing global attention and reaction.
The 4/16 tragedy naturally reminds people of 9/11. This most serious terror attack on US homeland after 9/11 once again raises the alarm for humankind. America's years-long War on Terror could be said very fruitful: The US has won the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, dealing a heavy blow to the headquarters of international terrorist organisations–al-Qaeda and killing bin Laden, establishing and improving a nationwide anti-terror mechanism, and uncovering a series of big cases of plotted terror attacks… However, it eventually fails to prevent a terror attack from happening. The day when the US severely punishes the culprit(s), it should also conduct a profound reflection on its own anti-terror policy.
In the struggle between terrorism and anti-terrorism, the US which has won enormous victories seems to become the loser instead. Blood and lives lost on a Boston plaza seem to tell the world: even the world's most powerful superpower cannot fully ensure safety on its own homeland.
A visitor to the US would feel a weird atmosphere. Security checks at US airports are the strictest in the world. Security measures taken by US missions in foreign countries are also the tightest. The Americans become like panic-stricken people being put inside a protective "condom", and terror attacks are like "a sword of Damocles" overhead threatening their life safety all the time.
The US is no stranger to terror attacks. America's War on Terror virtually started in 1980s. By 1990s, the US had deepened its understanding of the danger of terrorism and as such, anti-terrorism began to take an increasingly important role in Washington's foreign policy and to be gradually upgraded to the level of national security strategy. The 9/11 incident made the US to completely change its understanding of security threat. As a result, terrorism was regarded the biggest threat to the US, and America's defence was no longer targeted at a specific country or region but at the more diverse, complex and hidden terrorist organisations. Anti-terror became America's overwhelming task in reality. The US launched the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, attempting to wipe out the so-called "rascal countries" and "axis of evil" so as to eliminate threats to US security one by one.
But for the US, the War on Terror in fact was just a "banner" for it to seek global hegemony. Under this banner, anti-terror changed its nature, becoming a pretense for Washington to differentiate the enemy and the friend, to adjust relations with big powers and to strengthen its regional infiltration. With the implementation of the unilateralist strategy of "violence for violence" and "preemptive strike", the US fell into a vicious cycle of "the anti-terror efforts the stronger the threat of terror."
After taking office, Barack Obama has readjusted Washington's diplomatic strategy with a new focus on "Returnning to Asia". Brutal unilateralism has been replaced by "smart power" diplomacy. The US has showed a friendly and cooperative gesture to the Islamic world. The War on Terror seems to be coming to an end with US troops pulling out of the two major battlefields. Amid intensifying regional contention, terrorism seems to be fading out in people's vision.
The terror attack in Boston once again raises the alarm for Washington. The US needs to reflect on its strategy. International terrorism is far from going away but still remains the most real and urgent threat to the US. If the US still acts as "the ruler" backed up by its military muscle in its dealing with complicated and sensitive international problems, it is afraid that similar terror attacks could take place again. 17 April 2013