Monday, December 18, 2006

Redefining the War on Terror

It looks like this will be worth buying in hard copy. I'm betting the article won't be on-line.
In the December 18, 2006, issue of The New Yorker, George Packer reports on a radically new approach to fighting the war on terror (“Knowing the Enemy,” p. 60). Packer talks to a remarkable theorist named David Kilcullen, an Australian anthropologist who is also a lieutenant colonel in his country’s Army and the chief strategist in the U.S. State Department’s Office of the Coördinator for Counterterrorism. Kilcullen, who is “on loan” to the U.S. government, claims that the notion of a “global war on terror” is fundamentally misguided, and argues that America is in fact facing a “global counterinsurgency.”

As Packer writes, “The change in terminology has large implications . . . The notion of a ‘war on terror’ has led the U.S. government to focus overwhelmingly on military responses. In a counterinsurgency, according to the classical doctrine . . . armed force is only a quarter of the effort; political, economic, and informational operations are also required.” In other words, America can’t simply win battles; it must win the political support of the civilian populations that feed radical Islamic movements.
I've been saying this since before Bush went into Afghanistan, but nobody listens to me.
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12 Comments:

Blogger Bubblehead said...

I think about 1/4 military is the right proportion for waging a worldwide war in the 21st century -- this makes sense.

9:20:00 PM  
Blogger Kvatch said...

...it must win the political support of the civilian populations that feed radical Islamic movements.

Indeed, without a demonstration that moderation and democracy have a beneficial impact on the population, there is no possibility countering the radicals.

And...intelligence, Intelligence, INTELLIGENCE. I cringe when I think of what we could have done with just $50B of the money already flushed down the toilet if we'd applied it to effective intelligence operations.

11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Bubblehead, I almost dropped the laptop with that remark. It heartens me to see you think diplomacy has some place in all this.

Kvatch, I think we had and have plenty of good intelligence. It's just that anything that doesn't fit in with the WH preconceived agenda is simply ignored or miscontrued.

3:44:00 PM  
Anonymous lester said...

I am proudly against all past current and future interventions. "waging war" in any century is expensive and counter productive. how about we trade with these countries, so we can make money while advertising our values via our products?

6:35:00 PM  
Blogger Bubblehead said...

I don't see anything contradictory about wanting to win the War on Terror and agreeing that we should bring all our resources to bear to do so -- I'm nothing if not consistent.

6:08:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Good point Lester. If memory serves, there was a time they told us the free market was going to solve everything so we wouldn't have any wars anymore.

Bubblehead - mea culpa. I don't know you well enough to have made that judgment. I just assumed you would take a different position based on a our short exchanges here. I'm glad I'm wrong.

7:33:00 PM  
Anonymous lester said...

bublehead- what if I DON'T agree that we should bring about all our resources to fight a war on terror?


or that there should be a war on terror?

they're MY tax dollars too. I have no interest in being involved in the middle east in any way shape or form. Our oil money goes to terrorist via the saudis anyway, why not let the terrorists take over? once people get a taste of the "caliphate" they'll be begging for democracy. that's what has happened in vietnam.

a fool and his money are soon parted. people all across the world hate our government not us. let them go fight a war on terror for their "national interests" with their own blood and treasure not mine

2:37:00 PM  
Blogger Bubblehead said...

Lester -- that's the great thing about democracy; you can have your opinion, and publish it freely, and write your Congressperson to express it. You've probably noticed, though, that even normally liberal Congresspersons have been supporting the War and its various accompaniments (Patriot Act, etc.) despite their normal political persuasion. One may believe that this is because Bush/Cheney/Rove tapped their phone calls and are blackmailing them; others may say that's because they've also seen the intel, and know that there are bad people in the world who want to kill us, and that's why support for the general concept of the War on Terror remains strong, even among Democratic Party elites.
Either than, or the Rovian Mind Control Rays have gotten to them.

3:20:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Well I'm somewhere between the two of you on this point. I agree with Lester that the so called war on terror as it's currently being prosecuted is a waste of time and counterproductive besides and I'm at heart an anti-war person. Always have been.

However, I do believe there are extremists in the world who would seek to do us harm, and we need to be willing to protect ourselves against them with what means we have at our disposal. However, as far as the political support the administration's tactics have enjoyed so far, I doubt they were based on any great ideological conviction Bubblehead. As evidenced by the furious backpedaling now on both sides of the fence, the support to bone-headed programs like the Patriot Act were born out of political expediency. No one wanted to be seen as voting against a "war" president at a time he enjoyed great popular support. The support is pretty much melting away with the poll numbers.

I have always and continue to think that the domestic measures taken by Bush to "save" us from terrorists were designed as political tools to keep the neocons in power rather than providing any great impact on our national security. I think it diminished our system of government greatly and in fact endangered us all the more because of its focus on domestic political enemies at the expense of obtaining good intel on those who are the real threats.

10:51:00 AM  
Blogger whig said...

Just wondering, which group of terrorists knocked down WTC Building 7?

7:28:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

That is the 600 billion dollar question today whig.

7:46:00 PM  
Anonymous lester said...

bubble head

"You've probably noticed, though, that even normally liberal Congresspersons have been supporting the War and its various accompaniments (Patriot Act, etc.) despite their normal political persuasion."

no they aren't. you need to update your talking points homey

9:57:00 AM  

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