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BOUNDING THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM. Jeffrey Record. Central Thesis.
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BOUNDING THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM Jeffrey Record
Central Thesis • The central conclusion of this study is that the global war on terrorism as currently defined and waged is dangerously indiscriminate and ambitious, and accordingly that its parameters should be readjusted to conform to concrete U.S. security interests and the limits of American power. (40)
Conceptual Errors in the GWOT • Sound strategy mandates threat discrimination and reasonable harmonization of ends and means. The GWOT falls short on both counts. • Indeed, it may be misleading to cast the GWOT as a war… • ..to the extent that the GWOT is directed at the phenomenon of terrorism, as opposed to flesh-and-blood terrorist organizations, it sets itself up for strategic failure. • Terrorism is a recourse of the politically desperate and militarily helpless, and, as such, it is hardly going to disappear. (1)
Rogue States and Terrorism • ... unlike terrorist organizations, rogue states, notwithstanding administration declamations to the contrary, are subject to effective deterrence and therefore do not warrant status as potential objects of preventive war and its associated costs and risks. • How is the inaction of Saddam Hussein and North Korea explained other than by successful deterrence? (17)
Threat Conflation • Threat conflation makes the GWOT a war on an “enemy” of staggering multiplicity in terms of numbers of entities (dozens of terrorist organizations and terrorist states); types (nonstate entities, states, and failed states); and geographic loci (al-Qaeda alone is believed to have cells in 60 countries). • The global war on terrorism is moreover not only a war against practitioners of terrorism but also against the phenomenon of terrorism itself.
De-Conflation • (1) Destroy al-Qaeda. Because the war against al-Qaeda is a war of necessity, the attainability of this goal is a moot issue.
De-Conflation • (2) Destroy or defeat other terrorist organizations of global reach, including the nexus of their regional and national analogs. • This objective essentially places the United States at war with all terrorist organizations, including those that have no beef with the United States. As such, this objective is both unattainable and strategically unwise.
De-conflation • (3) Delegitimize and ultimately eradicate the phenomenon of terrorism. • Most governments in the world today already regard terrorism as illegitimate. The problem is that there are countless millions of people around the world who are, or believe they are, oppressed and have no other recourse than irregular warfare, including terrorism, to oppose oppression. They do not regard terrorism as illegitimate. (24)
De-conflation • (4) Transform Iraq into a prosperous, stable democracy. • The attainability of this objective remains to be seen. Experts on Iraq and the Arab world are divided on the issue of whether Iraq can be converted into a democracy..
De-Conflation • (5) Transform the Middle East into a region of participatory self government and economic opportunity. • Even assuming the United Statescan convert Iraq into a stable democracy (a huge assumption), it isnot clear how a democratic Iraq gets us to a democratic Middle East....The basis on which this democratic domino theory rests has never been explicated, however. Is it hope? Neo-conservative ideological conviction? How would democracy spread to the rest of the region?
De-Conflation • (6) Halt, by force if necessary, the continued proliferation of WMD and their means of delivery to hostile and potentially hostile states and other entities. The main feasibility issue with respect to this goal is whether • the United States can, via threatened preventive military action, deter rogue states from pursuing the acquisition of nuclear weapons and, failing that, whether it can militarily deprive such states of the • means of doing so. • There is no evidence that successful deterrence of the use of nuclear weapons in wartime can be extended to their acquisition in peacetime. On the contrary, threatened preventive war may actually encourage proliferation. (29)