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Expert at YSU: U.S. is a target



Published: Tue, September 11, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The attacks will have a significant impact on the American psyche and will produce major debates about domestic security, the professor said.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- A YSU associate professor who specializes in international relations said he is surprised it has taken this long for terrorists to attack this country.

"It's something that's been predicted for a long time," said Keith Lepak of the political science department at Youngstown State University. "This is a set of events that clearly indicated the vulnerability of our civilization. It's been a long time coming. An era of transoceanic travel, computers, electronics as well as radical politics and extremist political psychology, will produce something like this."

List of enemies: The fact is the United States has a laundry list of enemies, and many people are unwilling to acknowledge that, Lepak said.

"It runs the gamut of populist social movements, which are simply anti-American, to criminal and/or terrorist groups whose strategic objective is to terrorize Americans," he said.

The attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., will have a terrible impact on the American psyche, Lepak said.

"The psychological effect is probably much more important than a material strategic effect," he said.

Lepak said he had a lot of trouble gathering his thoughts about the impact of these attacks because the country has never experienced anything like this before.

Emotional debate: "It's going to produce a very animated, lively, emotional and severe debate within the country about the character of existing security measures and about the appropriate reactionary strategy," he said.

Lepak has no doubt that the government will react to these attacks and may take out its anger and frustration on groups not responsible for these episodes.

"It may be necessary to take action against a target or a set of targets which are not clearly responsible from the point of view of being able to demonstrate that one is not going to not react," he said.

Foreign or domestic? Lepak said it is possible, but highly unlikely, that the attacks were caused by a domestic terrorist group. More than likely, they were caused by international terrorists, he said.

"That's because of the extent and range of what happened," he said. "You had people who were willing to commit suicidal acts, which has not been the characteristic of domestic-based terrorists."

skolnick@vindy.com




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