PDF: 09 Terrorism
The “war on terror” must fail because it is a self-defeating slogan. To make war on a tactic — a raid, a breakout, an asymmetric attack on civilians, the use of chemical weapons — makes no sense. These tactics have worked well throughout history and will continue to. ‘Terrorist” tactics were used by Americans against the British in the 1770’s, by the Israelis against the British, by Algerians against the French. Progress is only possible if the problem is clearly defined … as global militant Islam. It may be political correctness that prevents that definition, or it may be that there is a genuine misunderstanding of the problem. Once confronted, the origins of global militant Islam are largely well-defined and, with sufficient cooperation by a range of nations, is a relatively simple problem to treat.
In the near-term, the US may find it necessary to consolidate a broader support base in its global campaign against “terrorism” and will find it necessary to reach détente en-bloc with entities such as the European Union and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. But much depends on how the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan develop. How each is perceived within one or two years — as a job well done, a quagmire, or a strategic withdrawal – will affect US credibility for several administrations.
Nations such as Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Turkey are best placed to depict violent Islamic militantism in clear contrast with global Islam but they can not join the “war on terror” to the extent the US expects while it remains a US war rather than a universal hazard because that would sacrifice their credibility at home. It seems unavoidable that the only way to build a general resilient consensus against global militant Islam is at the United Nations level and with the consent of concerned nations.
In the mid to longer term, the United Nations will either grow in stature and its ability to respond to crises or, for practical purposes, cease to exist. In this time scale there will be increasing pressure on the voting rules of the Security Council so that global interests are expressed as a consensus or some majority rather than the often sordid interests of one of the veto Powers. Through such reforms the UN would have a new legitimacy to tackle global challenges such as the “terrorism” of that day, or worse challenges such as epidemics and climate change.