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CHAPTER FOURTEEN


U.S. Security Interests

Preventing Terrorist Violence in the U.S.
Preventing Diversion of Nuclear Material
Reducing the Flow of Dangerous Drugs to the U.S.
Controlling the Borders, Especially Containing Large, Sudden Population Flows to the U.S.
Responding to Humanitarian Disasters Abroad


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Preventing Terrorist Violence in the U.S.

For terrorist episodes in the U.S. to date, the law enforcement system has been successful at what it does best--namely, determining responsibility after a crime has been committed. The challenge, however, is to find ways to prevent terrorists from carrying out their plans. The U.S. government, including the military, will continue to devote substantial efforts to preventing terrorist attacks, particularly at major events such as the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

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Preventing Diversion of Nuclear Material

Criminal diversion of fissile material might well be the single most worrying proliferation problem. A rogue state could, upon acquisition of a few kilograms of plutonium or highly enriched uranium, develop a nuclear bomb within a few years. Furthermore, unless the U.S. learned about the diversion of nuclear material, Washington would have more difficulty detecting such a nuclear weapons program, since it would not require the large facilities and expense involved in producing fissile material.

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Reducing the Flow of Dangerous Drugs to the U.S.

The U.S. has a vital public health interest in reducing dangerous drug use. The question is whether to focus on illegal drug inflows or domestic demand in order to achieve this interest. The majority viewpoint in policy circles at present holds that attempting to control foreign supplies of drugs--through interdiction, lab destruction, crop eradication, and the provision of economic alternatives to those who cultivate drug crops--is not the most effective way to reduce illegal drug use, and that more effort should be devoted to reducing demand. Further, most observers believe that the U.S. military is not well suited to take the lead in any part of the supply control effort.

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Controlling the Borders, Especially Containing Large, Sudden Population Flows to the U.S.

A broad political consensus is emerging that, however unfortunate the circumstances in their home countries, those fleeing political turmoil or economic deprivation cannot be allowed to enter the U.S. in unlimited numbers. The U.S. is simply not willing to extend refugee status to every person fleeing from a dictatorship, such as Haiti under the junta or Cuba under Castro. As a result of the increasing concern about the impact of immigration in general, more priority is likely to be assigned in coming years to containment of migrants claiming refugee status.

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Responding to Humanitarian Disasters Abroad

The U.S. public is moved by heart-rending televised images of political and natural disasters in remote corners of the world, and often insists that the government join with charitable organizations in providing disaster relief. Given its transport and communications capabilities as well as its ability to deploy quickly, the military will often be called upon to assist such efforts, particularly when time is of the essence.


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