The 11 September 2001 attacks have provoked a more formal expression of belligerency—a presidential declaration of war on those responsible for the attacks. The declaration clearly indicates the intention of the United States to use military force again and again at times and places and with means it deems appropriate. More terrorist attacks against Americans, abroad and in the United States, are possible. Exactly how the continuing campaign will be conducted, whether allies of the United States will participate, and what effect it will have are unknown at this time. Whether the counterattack will divide the nation politically remains to be seen.
Within the shadow of this tragedy, however, lie opportunities for even greater international determination and cooperation, if not to end terrorism once and for all—an unrealistic objective—at least to significantly reduce its practice. Whether such determination and cooperation materialize will depend on whether the rest of the world sees this event as an attack on the United States or as a threat to the international system as it exists.