“‘War on Terror’ Counterproductive, Wasteful” —Former CIA Officer, British Parliament, Pentagon Research Institute
In “How Terrorist Groups End,” a new study by the RAND Corporation (the research branch of the Pentagon), researchers expose groundbreaking discoveries regarding counter-terrorism. More than 600 terrorist movements of the past four decades are investigated, correlated, and extrapolated across every variable dreamable to reveal every dreamable statistic in the dreamscape of expert statisticians. The topic: “…the most frequently occurring causes for terrorist group dissolution.” Conclusion: by gaining “acceptance within the domestic political process.”
Contrary to what the White House, Department of Defense, and Congress had all led us to believe, terrorism cannot be conglomerated and fought as if it were a united force, defeatable only by massive military operations. “Exogenous force” is historically much less effective than other solutions, the report finds. In fact, military force had only been successful in dissolving seven percent of the terrorist groups studied! The scholars spell it out clearly: ”There is no battlefield solution to terrorism“!
“Am I missing something here?” I thought, when I first read the report. “This is coming from the Pentagon? This is HUGE news! Did I really beat Drudge to the scene?” Six days later and he still hasn’t heard the news…
Although most of the “mainstream” media’s audience probably cares little about the endless journals of the “ivory tower” press, America ought to hear about this one. Its implications should renovate our foreign policy in the Middle East immediately. The Pentagon’s research institute is telling us that major military cutbacks would actually increase our effectiveness in the region! Where is the media?
Where are the ships of our beloved countrymen sailing? Returning home, at last?
Unfortunately, it seems they’ll be anchored at bay for several more years. Our brothers sail in Humvees, across the desert and into the poppy fields.
The report advises a totally different approach to “fight” terrorism, broadly described in the introduction:
“The evidence since 1968 indicates that terrorist groups rarely cease to exist as a result of winning or losing a military campaign. Rather, most groups end because of operations carried out by local police or intelligence agencies or because they join the political process. This suggests that the United States should pursue a counterterrorism strategy against al Qa’ida that emphasizes policing and intelligence gathering rather than a “war on terrorism” approach that relies heavily on military force.”
Additionally, the authors declare that “[t]errorists should be perceived and described as criminals, not holy warriors,” and points to allies such as the UK, France, and Australia—all of which have shunned the phrase “war on terror.”
The International Development Secretary of Great Britain, Hilary Benn, has long urged a change of emphasis in the campaign against terrorism. In 2007, Benn argued that counterterrorism efforts essentially consisted of “the vast majority of the people in the world” against “a small number of loose, shifting and disparate groups who have relatively little in common.”
“What these groups want is to force their individual and narrow values on others, without dialogue, without debate, through violence. And by letting them feel part of something bigger, we give them strength… The fight for the kind of world that most people want can, in the end, only be won in a different battle – a battle of values and ideas.”
Opposition party Foreign Affairs Spokesman Michael Moore agreed with Benn over this issue, adding that the so-called “War on Terror” was, “At best…a superficial approach, at worst a failure to tackle the serious issues.”
In an article published last Monday on the Campaign for Liberty website, former CIA officer Philip Giraldi declares: “It is time to end the war on terror.” Political rhetoric is a powerful force for convincing the public of a war’s necessity, he argues, but has been exploited in a counterproductive fashion.
“The war on terror has been a fiction since the phrase was first articulated by President George W. Bush nine days after 9/11,” Giraldi explains, “It was subsequently used to empower the authorities and legitimize the dismantling of the constitution’s protections through the various renditions of the Patriot and Military Commissions Acts. The need to “protect America” became the fixture around which the creation of a unitary and unaccountable executive power took place… Indeed, Washington has more often than not been a negative force with its calls for pre-emptive war, its hidden prisons and torture, all of which has emboldened terrorists groups and motivated new recruits to join their ranks.”
There is hope, however, for bettering the public conception of the parameters of the “terrors” that are legitimate threats. The generalizations encouraged by the Bush Administration were harmful in a number of ways, but a new era awaits us. Will we learn from our mistakes? Will we seek a better understanding of violent threats and the appropriate defense tactics? Giraldi believes this is a real possibility, concluding his article:
“Changing the mindset that shapes the perception of terrorism will not be easy after years of almost ritualistic calls to war, but it can be done. In July 2007 British Prime Minister Gordon Brown instructed his government ministers to stop using the expression ‘war on terror’… the British government has not referred to its actions to identify and arrest terrorists as a war and also has not reflexively linked terrorism to Muslims, reasoning that declarations of war directed against one community, frequently unfairly, can never be helpful. Britain has never used the odious expression “Islamofascists” which has been popularized by neoconservatives in the United States and was briefly adopted by the Bush Administration. The British Prime Minister has made it clear who exactly the terrorists are — criminals who are not supported by any government on earth and who eventually will lose, as all criminals do. The United States should follow his example.”
”How Terrorist Groups End” RAND Corp.
“Benn criticizes ‘war on terror’” BBC April 16, 2007.
“FBI to get freer rein to look for terrorism suspects” Marisa
Taylor. *McClatchy*. August 13, 2008
“MI5 report challenges views on terrorism in Britain” Alan Travis. *
Guardian*. August 21, 2008.
“End the War on Terror” Philip Giraldi. *Campaign for Liberty* January 29th, 2009.
Special thanks to Aditya Ganipathiraju for guiding the research for this post