Public Policy on Terrorism in America: Research Proposal Writing Help

Posted on: 23rd April 2020


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This research study’s primary purpose was to analyze the likely causes of terrorism. Its objective was to analyze why the U.S. has been unable to handle the issue of terrorism. The literature review indicates that political, economic, ethnic, and social factors are the primary factors that cause terrorism. A quantitative descriptive research study was conducted to analyze the perceptions and opinions of government officials and citizens about the different causes of terrorism. It used a structured questionnaire to collect these perceptions. SPSS and Pearson’s correlation were used to analyze the collected data. 

Public Policy Research Proposal: Terrorism in America

Terrorism is one of the global challenges of the 21st century. In their attempt to deal with terrorism, several governments have faced socio-cultural challenges (Nacos, 2016). The United States has developed policies aimed at combating terrorism. For many years, the U.S. has engaged in counterterrorism initiatives (Sandler, 2014). Terrorism refers to a technique of coercion that uses violence to spread panic and fear among a country’s citizens. In most cases, terrorists engage in this form of violence to achieve ideological and political objectives. Unlike other forms of violence such as mass shootings, contemporary terrorist violence is used to coerce a given party or country to change its position concerning some policy or action. The terrorist attack spreads fear since the violence targets innocent citizens. Consequently, terrorists are likely to put pressure on the government in case the violence causes destruction to a large group of innocent citizens. Contemporary terrorists indiscriminately target government officials, military facilities, and innocent victims. 

Problem Description

There has been a surge in terrorist activities in different parts of the world in the past few years. Several individuals have used terrorism as a means of achieving their political objectives. The 9/11 attack is considered to be the world’s deadliest attack since it resulted in the death of over 3,000 innocent victims (Roser, Nagdy, and Ritchie, 2013). The identification of the causes of terrorism has been the core objective of several research studies conducted in the past. Governments can combat terrorism by eliminating its underlying economic and political causes (Krueger, 2017). The terrorism issue has been a primary concern for several individuals. It has infringed on the innocent victims’ rights. Moreover, the U.S. and other countries have incurred high costs in their attempt to fight terrorism. Therefore, it is imperative for these countries to formulate policies that will enable them to address the menace of terrorism at a reduced cost. There is a perception that the U.S. government has failed in its efforts to combat terrorism. A shift in public policies will assist in the reduction of such perceptions. 

The Significance of the Study

This research study is significant as it analyzes the factors that are likely to cause terrorism. The identification of these factors will enable the government to formulate policies that can assist in addressing terrorism’s root causes. The research study is also important since it will highlight some of the recommendations for improving American public policy. Based on these recommendations, governments will have the opportunity to address terrorist challenges and improve their homeland security. 

Purpose Statement 

The research analyzes why the American government appears to be unable to cope with the issue of terrorism, determine the economic and political factors that lead to terrorism, and analyze the policies formulated to address the issue of terrorism. 

Identification of Key Variables

In this research paper, terrorism’s causal factors will constitute the key variables. 

Research Questions

1. Why does it appear that the American government is unable to cope with the issue of terrorism?

2. What are some of the economic and political factors that are likely to lead to terrorism?

3. What are some of the policies that can be formulated to address the issue of terrorism?

Literature Review

In their research study, Adelaja, Labo, and Penar (2018) define terrorism as the premeditated use of violence to obtain social and political goals. Primarily, the use of violence is meant to intimidate a large group of innocent citizens. They further assert that terrorist attacks have resulted in panic and tension among innocent victims. Choi (2014) also defines terrorism as the deliberate use of violence by non-state actors to achieve social, religious, and political objectives. He highlights that terrorists may in some instances, threaten to use violence against a particular nation or government. From these two definitions, it is clear that terrorists often have their reasons for engaging in violent activities. In certain situations, terrorists may harbor international ambitions. Conversely, some terrorists are likely to have territorial objectives. Terrorists who have territorial ambitions are likely to use force to assert their influence in a given geographical area (Adelaja, Labo, and Penar, 2018). After capturing a given territory, terrorists may establish government-like structures. The rise of terrorist activities around the globe has immensely contributed to the view that terrorism is the world’s leading security threat. 

Apart from defining and providing essential background information about terrorism, Adelaja, Labo, and Penar (2018) also analyze some of its causes. They analyze the social and economic causes of terrorism in different parts of the world. Several studies have identified unemployment and poverty as the leading causes of terrorism. The intelligence and security community believes that citizens who are economically deprived may resort to the use of terrorism to express their frustrations and grievances (Adelaja, Labo, and Penar, 2018). According to the relative deprivation theory, a lack of satisfaction can emerge if the government fails to provide its citizens with economic opportunities. Poor economic conditions are likely to motivate individuals to join terrorist organizations. In certain situations, the poor but educated persons may engage in terrorism due to the lack of economic opportunities. Choi (2014) also investigates how economic factors are likely to contribute to terrorism. He asserts that people may be predisposed to engage in terrorist activities to voice their demands in case of poor economic conditions such as the lack of employment opportunities. Consequently, several people and policymakers have viewed terrorism as a direct consequence of poverty. According to Choi (2014), economic sanctions have the potential to trigger domestic terrorism. 

Choi (2014) notes that economic sanctions are tools that foreign governments may use to coerce a given country to engage in the right activities. However, on several occasions, these sanctions have contributed to the rise of terrorist activities in the target country. Economic sanctions pose significant threats to the poorest and vulnerable citizens (Choi, 2014). Therefore, these sanctions have the potential to provoke the poorest segments to engage in terrorism due to desperation and intimidation. Notably, the main victims of economic sanctions are not powerful and authoritative leaders, but the innocent and poor individuals. 

Apart from social and economic factors, Adelaja, Labo, and Penar (2018) also assert that the second cause of terrorism in several countries is religious and ethnic factors. There is a common perception that religious fundamentalism and tension are likely to cause terrorism. For instance, the emergence of Boko Haram can be attributed to religious tensions between Muslims and Christians. Certain terrorist groups have extreme religious ideologies that they rely on while engaging in their heinous criminal acts (Adelaja, Labo, and Penar, 2018). The ISIS is another terrorist group that is founded in Islamic fundamentalism. ISIS’s primary objective has been to create an Islam state in Iran and promote the use of Sharia Law. Tarlow (2017) in his research study investigates the relationship that exists between terrorism and religious teachings and beliefs. He notes that religion has the power to influence human actions and behavior. Moreover, Tarlow (2017) views religion as a factor that may motivate an individual to engage in both evil and good deeds. Since the 9/11 attacks, Islam has been linked to terrorism. In Palestine, Hamas, a religious movement, has engaged in wars against the Israelis. 

Several researchers also agree that political factors can cause terrorism. They argue that the civil wars, high repression levels, weak governments, political instability, ineffective political institutions, corruption, and the lack of civil liberties may contribute to terrorism in a given country (Adelaja, Labo, and Penar, 2018). In certain instances, nations that have complicated multiparty systems may be at risk of terrorist attacks. Compared to autocratic nations, democratic countries may be prone to violent attacks due to their ability to prevent terrorist activities (Adelaja, Labo, and Penar, 2018). Democratic nations may be at risk of terrorist attacks since they emphasize free press and civil liberties. Terrorist organizations can leverage these opportunities to launch their attacks without detection or suspicion. They can also use democratic ideals to hinder the government’s counterterrorism measures. Terrorist organizations may also have political goals in a given country. Consequently, they can engage in violence with the ultimate purpose of achieving their political objectives. 

The lack of opportunities for expressing political ills and demands may further contribute to the growth of terrorist activities in various nations. Dissenters are likely to resort to violent acts in democratic countries where freedom of association, speech, and expression are legal. In these countries, people have the freedom to form and join political organizations without being influenced by the government. Significantly, in democratic countries, it may be difficult for people to achieve their rights and political goals through legal means. Several individuals view terrorism as the only effective mechanism of realizing their political goals and ambitions. However, in certain cases, democratic countries play an essential role in lowering the incidences of terrorist activities. In such countries, the government’s responsiveness to citizens’ political ambitions and goals is likely to be realized through elections. Freedom of assembly that democratic nations emphasize reduces the costs of engaging in terrorist activities. In certain situations, legal systems face challenges in their attempt to prosecute terrorists due to civil rights constraints. In the United States, political leaders have asserted that the war on terrorism does not require the government to limit some people’s civil liberties. 

The reviewed studies suggest that terrorists launch their attacks with specific objectives in mind. From the literature review, it is evident that in most cases, terrorists have economic, social, religious, and political objectives while launching their operations. A terrorist group’s objectives are likely to influence its modes of attacks and selection of potential targets. 

In their research study, Thrall and Goepner (2017) reveal the primary reasons why the U.S. has failed to handle the issue of terrorism. The first reason is that the United States has inflated the assessment of the terrorist threat that it faces. Based on the assessment, the U.S. has formulated an expansive counterterrorism policy that has failed to protect the citizens from terrorist attacks. Apart from the inflated assessment, Thrall and Goepner (2017) further reveal that the U.S. has been unable to handle terrorism due to its overdependence on the aggressive utilization of force. The failure indicates that it is imperative for the U.S. to assume another strategy or approach. The U.S. should formulate policies that ensure that its regional partners are involved in the war against terror. It should formulate policies that enhance the operations of its intelligence services. Moreover, these policies should assist the U.S. to secure its homeland. 


Research Design 

This research is a quantitative descriptive study. In this study, descriptive data will be utilized as the basis of making conclusions and recommendations. The primary purpose of using this type of research is to gather first-hand data from the citizens, government officials, and secondary data from websites and publications. The findings of the analyzed data will enable researchers to draw conclusions that can be generalized to the entire population. Moreover, descriptive research is critical for answering the ‘what’ sections of the study. The first research question that this research study intends to answer is the economic and political factors that are likely to lead to terrorism. The second question is examples of policies that can be formulated to address the issue of terrorism. Lastly, the research study intends to analyze the reasons why the American government appears to be unable to cope with the issue of terrorism. 

Population and Subjects

The population will consist of all citizens and government officials who work in the U.S. Homeland Security. In this research study, a convenience sampling technique will be used. Through this sampling technique, the participants will be selected based on their willingness to participate in the research study. Moreover, the research subjects will be chosen based on their availability. The selected population sample will enable researchers to collect substantial information that will allow them to draw important conclusions and make effective policy recommendations. 


In this research study, the variable is terrorism’s causal factors. The variable will be tested based on the number of their occurrences in the research subjects’ responses. Terrorism’s causal factors will be defined as forces that motivate terrorists to use violence against a given country. The variable will be measured by a survey using a Likert scale. The survey will contain six questions regarding the likely causes of terrorism in a nation. It will be sent to the research subjects through email. The survey will be sent to the research participants after approval from the relevant authorities. It is contained in the appendix section. The Likert scale will consist of strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, and strongly disagree. A score will be attached to each question in the structured questionnaire. Strongly agree will receive a score of 4, agree =3, neutral = 2, disagree =1, strongly disagree = 0. For instance, in this study, a score of 4 will be given to responses that indicate that political factors have a strong influence on terrorism factors. Conversely, a score of zero will be accorded to research participants who feel that political and economic factors cannot cause terrorism. 

Data Collection

In this research study, questionnaires will be used to collect data from the research subjects. The questionnaire form will consist of six structured questions. The use of structured questionnaires will allow the researchers to determine the questions that the research subjects will respond to in advance. The research subjects will be expected to answer all the questions that appear on the questionnaire form. Before developing the questionnaire, it will be imperative for the researchers to determine the target audience that will respond to the questions. 


The researchers will be required to receive approval from the IRB before conducting the study. The IRB will approve the research study’s methodology and procedures. Before administering the structured questionnaires, the researchers will be required to obtain the research subjects’ permission. The researchers will send an email to the research subjects. The email will ask the research subjects to confirm whether they are willing to participate in the research study. It will be assumed that those who respond to the email would be willing to engage in the research study. After obtaining the consent, the researchers will email the questionnaire form to the research subjects. The use of the survey questionnaire is essential since it will enable the researchers to save on costs and time. The researchers will be required to use phone calls and emails to remind the research participants of the survey questionnaires. Scoring and data analysis will be based on the number of participants who respond to the survey questions. Incompletely filled forms will not constitute part of valid questionnaires. Consequently, they will be regarded as rejected or spoilt questionnaire forms. 

Upon receiving the research materials, the first significant step will be to code the data. The data will then be analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences. The use of SPSS is essential since it will provide researchers with more opportunities to explore the collected data. Descriptive research will enable researchers to describe the causes of terrorism without necessarily manipulating or influencing the variables. Therefore, descriptive research tends to be observational or correlational. 

Ethical Issues and the Use of IRB

Before conducting the research, it will be imperative for the researchers to obtain permission from the relevant bodies such as the Institutional Review Board (IRB). In this case, the IRB will be responsible for reviewing the procedures that the researches propose for the research. Therefore, researchers should ensure that the methods they use to conduct the research are ethical. After obtaining permission from the IRB, the researchers should obtain the research participants’ consent. The researchers will furnish the subjects with informed consent forms. Through these forms, the researchers will inform the participants of their rights and benefits associated with participating in the research study. During the study, the researchers will be required to respect the participants’ right to autonomy. Moreover, they will be required to show beneficence and fairness to the research subjects. Based on the principle of beneficence, the researchers will be required not to maximize the participants' benefits and reduce activities that might cause risks to the subjects. The other ethical issue that is likely to emanate during the research study is maintaining the confidentiality of the data collected. In this research study, the data collected will be stored using specialized codes that cannot be accessed by third parties. Moreover, the data collected will not be accessed by unauthorized individuals. 

Study Limitations

In this research study, the main limitation was the maintenance of a significant response rate. Several researchers did not confirm their participation in the research study. Consequently, there was a significant reduction in the number of research subjects. 

Budget and Schedule

Telephone-related expenses are expected to cost about $300. They will be incurred while contacting the research participants and following up on the surveys. The cost of preparing the structured questionnaires will be about $500. Personnel services will cost approximately $400. Notably, qualified analysts will be required to interpret, code, and analyze the collected data. Data interpretation and benefits will cost about $300. The total time needed for data analysis and interpretation will be 72 hours. Miscellaneous expenses will be pegged at about $250. The collection of relevant data will take about 4 days while data analysis and interpretation will take five days. 

Description of the Expected Data

The data collected should reveal the public’s perceptions and opinions about some of the factors that are likely to contribute to the rise of terrorist activities. Researchers should monitor the occurrence of common themes in the research participants’ responses. Moreover, the data collected should indicate some of the policies that the government ought to formulate to curb the rising terrorism rates. The data should further reveal the reasons why the United States is unable to cope with the issue of terrorism. 


  The research study’s objective was to analyze the public’s perceptions and opinions about the issue of terrorism. It analyzed some of the factors that are likely to contribute to terrorism in different countries. Based on the literature review, it is evident that many researchers agree that economic, religious, and political factors are likely to cause terrorism in the U.S. and other countries. The research study also sought to determine the reasons why the U.S. has been unable to handle the issue of terrorism. It has realized that the U.S. has depended on aggressive military interventions in its fight against terrorist activities. The study has contributed to existing literature since it has analyzed some of the policies that can assist the U.S. to reduce terrorism rates. 



Adelaja, A., Labo, A., and Penar, E. (2018). Public opinion on the root causes of terrorism and objectives of terrorists: A Boko Haram case study. Perspectives on Terrorism, 12(3)

Choi, S. (2014). Causes of domestic terrorism: Economic sanctions as a violence trigger structure. The Korean Journal of International Studies, 12(1)

Krueger, A. B. (2017). What makes a terrorist? Princeton University Press

Nacos, B. L. (2016). Terrorism and counterterrorism. Abingdon: Routledge

Roser, M., Nagdy, M., and Ritchie, H. (2013). Terrorism. Our World in Data. Retrieved from

Sandler, T. (2014). The analytical study of terrorism: Taking stock. Journal of Peace Research, 51(2), 257-271.

Tarlow, P. (2017). The interaction of religion and terrorism. International Journal of Safety and Security in Tourism/Hospitality

Thrall, T. and Goepner, E. (2017). Step back: Lessons for U.S. foreign policy from the failed war on terror. CATO Institute. Retrieved from





Thank you for your willingness to participate in this important survey that seeks to analyze the probable causes of terrorism in the United States. Today, we will be collecting your opinions about the possible causes of terrorism. Moreover, we will be assessing your views concerning the primary objectives of terrorist organizations. The survey should take approximately 5 to 6 minutes to complete. You will be required to answer all the questions in the survey form. Be assured that all the responses you provide in this survey will be private and confidential. 

Survey Questions 

1. What are some of the main objectives of terrorist organizations?

2. Do economic and social actors cause terrorism in a country?

3. Do political factors cause terrorism?

4. Do religious and ethnic factors lead to a terrorist attack?

5. Has the United States been unable to handle the issue of terrorism?

6. Should the U.S. formulate new policies that can assist it to curb the menace of terrorism?


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