Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Middle East Justice Part 6: Terrorist strategies and counter-strategies

Okay, checking to see that the number 6 is not going to create a bit of bad luck here, I will continue.  (Biblical meaning of 6 = battle between spirit and flesh, non-biblical, but spiritual = enlightenment)

I may not be paranoid about Muslims or the ME, but I can be paranoid about patterns and their automated effects on unassuming folk.

The subject of this post is to enlighten you about terrorist strategies and counter strategies.  I think this rationalization, provided by the work of Andrew Kydd and Barbara Walter, makes sense out of what has been happening with the 'War on Terror,' as Bush liked to call it.

I am using this information in the context of non-state terrorists, like Al Queda, the PLO and Hamas, who feel they have no other alternative, but I believe states use terrorism as well, covertly and integrated into conventional war strategy.  

It's very simple, I will follow each terrorist strategies with its aligning counterstrategy, according to K and W:

Attrition: Showing terrorists are strong enough to inflict considerable costs if target does not change its policy.
fertile ground for attrition:
The said policy is important to the targeted state
The targeted state has the ability to retaliate
The targeted state is sensitive to the cost of violence
counter measures:
Minimize psychological costs (don't over-react)
Concede inessential issues for peace
Targeted retaliation
Deny access to weapons

Intimidation:  Showing that terrorists can punish disobedience and that government is weak (this mainly refers to the terrorists home state...i.e. Afghanistan)
fertile ground:
Weak States
Regime change
Rough geographical terrain (hard for state to mount counter-attack)
counter measures:
Retake territory (clear and hold)
Increase law enforcement

Provocation:  Induce enemy to use indiscriminate force
fertile ground:
When the enemy is capable of severe military force
counter measures:
Discriminate targeting

Spoiling:  Convince enemy that moderates on terrorist's side are not trustworthy
fertile ground:
Moderates on terrorist's side are strong
counter measures:
Build trust with moderates on terrorist's side
Decrease moderate's vulnerability
Power-share with moderates
Use of international organizations (to build strength/legitimacy on moderate's side)

Outbidding:  Showing that the terrorist group has the greatest resolve (over, say, the legitimate government or rival home power) to fight rival
counter measures:
Encourage competing groups to unify
Give concessions to non-violent groups, illustrating the greater strength of non-violent groups. 

So, this makes sense right?  Can you see how this strategy/counter strategy has played out in the 'War on Terror?'  Incidentally, using the term, 'War on Terror' is an unwise counter-terrorism strategy.  It goes against the advice under attrition- don't over-react.

It is curious that the Bush admin counter measures seemed to have encouraged terrorism i.e. creating a sense of fear in this country, like 'The terrorist are going to get us anyday...everyday!"  with the colored warning system: green, yellow, orange, red to tell us how scared we should be everyday.  Geez.  and, of course, under the strategy of attrition and provocation (which were clearly used on us with 9-11), the use of indiscriminate force.  We just bombed the heck out of Iraq.  Not discriminate targeting.

Obama, on the other hand, has stopped using the term 'War on Terror,' if you haven't noticed and is focusing on discriminate force, along with other rational counter-terrorist strategies that agree with K and W, which I will allow you to analyze for yourself.

Let's not forget one of the main reasons for terrorism:  political POLICY.

I also want to insert here that the main reason  for religious and cultural cleavages in societies is politicians.
You can see how this plays out with Islamic, Jewish and Christian fundamentalism in Muslim States, Israel and the US, respectively.  Why do politicians use religion as a tool to enrage the masses?  Because, it is easy to do.

Evoking nationalism is another easy way for politicians to get the masses to support extreme policy measures. 

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