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.


Anonymous said...

The nightmarish conclusion suggested is unlikely because the situation will changed and this map outdated before it could happen. This is because the nature of the conflict will shift to something else as the balance of power shifts. The map would have to be updated for such changes.

Matthew Schiros said...

I fail to understand your worldview. If, as you claim, opposition and attempts to prevent terrorism only lead to a larger effort on the part of the terrorists, efforts which, from your writing, you believe will be successful, what is the solution?

A war against "globalization" or "root causes" of terrorism is pointless, simply on a numbers game. Terrorists don't draw their ideology from some recent branch of Islam stimulated by globalization, although many Islamofascist organizations do have "Marxist" ideologies attached to them, they draw it from the Koran, the writings of the 12th century Muslim jurists, and their modern imams. The idea of the Caliphate isn't any different from the Judeo/Christian belief that the Temple will be rebuit, and the faithful will lead the world. The reason that the Western religous philosophy is morally superior has nothing to do with the ends, but the means. Military force really is the only solution when you're dealing with a situation in the present where people want to kill you, and have exhibited that they have the resources to do so. Changing ideas is great, but it's only functional as an addition to the military action, not instead of it.

navimap said...

Response to Matthew Schiros comment.

Thanks for your comments.

We have no choice. We must engage the enemy as we are doing now but our present strategy would neither beat them or wear them down. It will help us buy time. What we need is to debunk their deviant Islamic ideas, which unfortunately they have found it so easy to find recruits of. Why this is so is a consequence of how we have developed prosperous societies/economies, which is largey premised on the market, free trade and democracy.

This group of Muslims have been angry since the fall of the Ottoman Empire but only now have they become increasingly attractive, in part because they are disillusioned with established Islam. They believe that the majority are sell-outs.

Similarly, but not in the evil sense, the Romans could not extinguish early Christianity, which if you look at it non-religiously is just a powerful idea that refuses to die. We are now combating something akin, but is evil. So the force of arms can only take you so far. We need to convince them that their ideas are bankrupt ones. The moderate Muslims must show them in logic and life that their version of Islam are lies.