Monday, July 25, 2005
Terrorism: Drawn into the wrong war
In the war against Terror, it has become clear that we are trapped in a vicious cycle with the enemy. As we invest more in security; hardware, software, systems and even behavior adjustments (Box 1), the terrorists are just determined to try harder (Box 2). Also the cost to us is disproportionately higher than them at each iteration of this loop. Furthermore they usually have the initiative to engage us at the place and time of their choosing. How long can we sustain this vicious cycle against them? No reinforcing loop lasts forever. Before either side dies from exhaustion, we may be heading of a "lock out" position, i.e., our cities are so heavily secured such that the terrorists find it impossible to hit us (Box 3) - see dotted arrow to Box 2, but it could also mean that our cities could no longer exist in the way they are meant to function, rolling back our desire to generate wealth with globalization (Box 4) - In fact, wealth will contract and freedom curtailed.
The war that we really need to fight and win is the one that supports Box 2 - The Terrorists' mistaken ideology of creating a global Islamic Caliphate according to their warped understanding of Islam (Box 5). This ideology arose as backlash to globalization (Box 4). And if the terrorists can fight modern civilized society to the Box 3 situation, it would be such a huge setback to a free and globalized world (Box 4) that even as we exterminate the terrorists, what we achieve is nothing but a pyrrhic victory. Therefore it is imperative that in our war against terrorism, we need a viable strategy against their ideology (Box5). The war that we are waging as a vicious cycle between Box 1 and Box 2 was inevitable as they had the advantage of initiative. We are not likely to win that war given their extraordinary determination, but with our resources, we must use it to buy time.
If we fail to overcome Box 5, we loose this war. It might be a long time coming, but it will come.