Nuisance to Crisis: Conceptualizing Terrorism During the Nixon Administration
Teahen, Shannon Hope
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The study of terrorism has gained attention and prominence post-September 11, 2001. Much of the literature on terrorism is teleological, and many authors focus their research on America’s involvement with terrorism in the Middle East beginning with the Iran hostage crisis in 1979. Accordingly, the literature fails to highlight the rise of terrorism in the Middle East and the importance of the Middle East to American foreign policy during the Nixon Administration. This study looks at how the American media and the American government conceptualized terrorism during the Nixon Administration, from 1969 to 1974. An analysis of American print media sources demonstrates that terrorism was associated with the Middle East more than other regions in the later years of Nixon’s presidency. American government documents reveal that the government linked terrorism with the Middle East after a fundamental shift in the perception of terrorism took place after the Munich Olympics massacre in 1972. In order to understand the contemporary manifestation of terrorism in American life, it is imperative to understand the history of how America conceptualized terrorism.