Terrorism has many definitions, yet most of them mean the use of unexpected cruel force against people or buildings not related to the military. Typically terrorism uses fear as the most powerful weapon and attempts indirectly propagate certain ideas and programs. Since it is a mean of asymmetric warfare which is used against civilians rather than the military it is never justified. The following essay will speak about how to defeat terrorism on the face of the earth.
Terrorism cannot be justified because it does not directly address the problem yet attempts to influence political decisions through intimidation of people, i.e. voters and by ruining the country’s infrastructure. Instead of using the established political dialogue, one party chooses to avoid it yet instead scare off the other party with violence (Hoffman, 89). This method cannot be considered civilized, efficient, or ethical. Therefore, terrorism cannot be justified from political dialogue, international relations and decision-making process.
One should understand that terrorism is a military tactic, a military craft if you will. Clausewitz in his “War” noted “Earlier theorists aimed to equip the conduct of the war with principles, rules, or even systems, and thus considered only factors that could be mathematically calculated (e.g., numerical superiority; supply; the base; interior lines). All these attempts are objectionable, however, because they aim at fixed values. In war everything is uncertain and variable, intertwined with psychological forces and effects, and the product of a continuous interaction of opposites” (p.129). Terrorism thus can exist as a military tactic as long as it yields results that terrorists expect.
To grasp what it means to defeat terrorism, one should again look at Clausewitz “War” where it is said “What do we mean by the defeat of the enemy? Simply the destruction of his forces, whether by death, injury, or any other means — either completely or enough to make him stop fighting. . . . The complete or partial destruction of the enemy must be regarded as the sole object of all engagements. . . . Direct annihilation of the enemy’s forces must always be the dominant consideration.” (p. 229). Later in the essay one will learn that to defeat terrorists one does not necessarily have to develop novel military tactics or strategies since social and economic tools could effectively help one overcome terrorism. Terrorism is a cowardly tactic aimed at hitting the weakest spots and causing the maximum damage without discriminating targets. As long as something related to the enemy is destroyed, or someone related to the enemy is killed it is acceptable (Pape, 105). In reality, terrorism is an asymmetric warfare intended to fight a more powerful enemy. This mean of warfare has been used throughout history, yet is deemed as unethical and inappropriate by the modern military conventions.
Several strategies can allow one to defeat terrorists efficiently. These are the following:
- Military strategies. These strategies involve a profound understanding of the terrorist tactics. Much can be found in the works of Sun Tzu, namely the Art of War. “If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put the division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected” (Sun Tzu, 87). Another important lesson we can learn from the following quote “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.” (Sun Tzu 90). The US military to defeat the terrorists needs to become unpredictable. In other words, it should not make regular patrols on the same roads at the same time, it should not use the same type of vehicles and should not react the very same way to the terrorist attacks. The US military needs to understand that the terrorists due to their inability to effectively fight openly with the US troops will always rely on covert operations and unexpected attacks. It is, for this reason, the military needs to prepare primarily for the unexpected hidden attacks. The terrorists need to be stigmatized based on race, religion, gender and other attributes.
- Social strategies. These strategies are aimed at destroying the concept of terrorist warfare which in turn will prevent certain countries from producing the terrorists. Social strategies need to inform people about the possible political solutions to any problem that might appear as well as tell them about the damage the terrorists do to the civilians rather than the military. Social strategies need to educate people on the value of human life and teach them that they should not exchange their life for someone’s beliefs and political goals. On the contrary, people should do everything possible to support their families and close ones. Statistically, those people who engage in terrorist acts are those from poor families, with low disposable income and little to no formal education. Social strategies need to account for the fact that people without formal education are prone to external influence and are naïve enough to follow the advice of those who recommend them to engage in suicide bombings or other types of terrorism. Social programs can be done only through effective propaganda and education of citizens in the countries that produce the greatest number of terrorists. Social programs should promote transparency and equality as well as equal access to different types of information
- Economic strategies. Statistically speaking most of the terrorists come from the countries with low standards of living. People who live on $2-$3 per day have little to lose, so a salary of $500 per month as applicable to most terrorists in the Arab world certainly will prompt most people to take on arms and suicide bomber belt and kill the infidels (O’Neil, 340). Due to high levels of unemployment, many people are forced to travel abroad to get some menial job. Apparently, the job of a mercenary terrorist is well-paid. Since the family of a killed terrorist warrior receives about $2000 as compensation, many people agree to take their chances and join the terrorist forces. Apparently, in the past several decades there had been no record of front-line terrorists coming from affluent families and the first world nations. The reason why people from the US, UK, Japan or the EU do not want to join the terrorist troops is that they have money and enjoy lavish lifestyles full of pleasure; something they do not want to give up in favor of some political cause or Islamic jihad propaganda (Laquer, 100). Thus, one of the most effective ways to win terrorists without fighting is to create jobs at least for males in the countries that produce the greatest amount of terrorists. By moving production to countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and some other smaller Arab nations the USA will not only cut costs on labor but will also ascertain that people will work at peaceful works rather than risk their lives at terrorism-related employment.
In conclusion, I would like to note that terrorism is an example of asymmetric warfare which allows certain countries and regimes gain superiority through fear and intimidation of the enemy civilians. Just like any other military tactic, it can exist for as long as it will bring the expected results. Thus to overcome the terrorists one needs to engage in military tactics that will rely more on unexpected and mobile troops that will avoid routine. Still, more potent results can be obtained via application of various social and economic strategies that will effectively defeat terrorism. By bringing more information, propaganda, and education into the country, one will certainly reduce the number of terrorists, who statistically are uneducated people. By moving production to the countries that produce terrorists one will provide potential terrorists with less risky means of earning wages than through the acts of terror.
Hoffman, Bruce, Inside Terrorism, Prentice Hall, 2004.
Laquer, Walter, Origins of Terrorism: Psychologies, Ideologies, Theologies, States of Mind, NY Random House, 2003.
Pape, Robert, Dying to Win : The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, Wiley and sons press, 2004.
O’Neil, Bard, Insurgency &Terrorism: From Revolution To Apocalypse, McGraw Hill, 2003.
Tsu, Sun, The art of War, Barrons books, 2004 (reprint).
Clausewitz, War, NY Random house, 2004 (reprint).
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