Essay: Global Efforts to Reduce Terrorism: Have They Been Effective?

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[. . .] ' For reasons that will be highlighted in the subsequent sections of this text, this approach has largely been ineffective.

There is the well-founded claim that one of the reasons the war on terror is being lost in many parts of the words is as a result of failure to grasp the workings and the grand strategy of terrorist formations. For instance, with regard to al-Qaeda, Gartenstein-Ross (2012) is of the opinion that the U.S. continues to lose the plot as far as the war against terror is concerned due to its inability to understand and integrate the grand strategy of al-Qaeda. In his well argued analysis, Gartenstein-Ross (2012) points out that as per al-Qaeda's understanding, the Soviet economy collapsed as a result of the costs associated with the Soviet-Afghan war campaign. It is likely that al-Qaeda wants to replicate this same scenario. At least, this, in the opinion of Gartenstein-Ross (2012), is the terror group's long-term objective. In the opinion of the author, in al-Qaeda's thinking, the escalation of its conflict with the U.S. is likely to significantly increase defense project costs -- thus further hurting the economy to the point of collapse. It is highly likely that U.S. policy makers have not grasped, or at least taken into consideration, this long-term strategy of al-Qaeda. As a matter of fact, the major policy decisions that have been made in the past seem to be playing well into this grand strategy. This is as far as politicization of the war against terror as well as the dulcification of efforts is concerned - leading to the further escalation of costs. For instance, the Department of Homeland Security's budget nearly doubled between FY 2003 to FY 2008 (Apaza, 2011). This is a scenario replicated across the world; and possibly, this is one of the key reasons as to why i) the war against terror is being lost, and ii) the situation is likely to get worse, going forward.

Misplaced priorities and strategic blunders could also be cited as the other reasons as to why the war against terror is being lost. For instance, closer home, the Bush administration committed a strategic blunder by prematurely broadening the war against terror at a time when the relevance of strategic focus could not have been overstated. Looking back, thanks to the decision to invade Iraq, thus effectively diverting key resources from Afghanistan to Iraq, the United States created fertile grounds in Afghanistan for the re-awakening of terror cells that had already been put to sleep. This allowed for the rolling back of gains that had been made earlier on. Sadly, this is a scenario that has been replicated many times before. It is also important to note that as Jett (2012) points out, in the recent past, in seeking to prevent another attack on its soil, the U.S. has been providing security assistance to various countries, most particularly in the Middle East. As the author further points out, by aiding other governments, the U.S. is making itself somewhat less secure, and hence further increasing the likelihood of further attacks. In the new set up of things, every state, jurisdiction, or government is branded a partner in the 'global war against terror' as long as they show some allegiance to this particular cause. According to the author, it matters little if the said partner in the war against terror is repressive or undemocratic back home. Thus, the quick solution being peddled around is that of training "troops involved in the fighting, regardless of who they are or what they are really fighting for" (Jett, 2012). The author further points out that according to an article appearing in the New York Times, such an approach might end up creating "more terrorists than it eliminates" (Jett, 2012).

The recent wave of protests as well as demonstrations in the Arab world, dubbed 'Arab spring' cannot go unmentioned as far as the global war on terror is concerned. Although there are those who, like Peter Bergen (as cited in Inbar, 2013), are of the opinion that the Arab upheavals could end up hurting terror formations such as al-Qaeda, they may as a matter of fact turn out to be a boon for the said terror formations. According to Gartenstein-Ross (2012), there is a high likelihood that terror formations will position themselves to take advantage of the mess. This according to the author is more so the case if the new governments fail to adequately fulfill the high expectations of the citizenry -- effectively creating fertile grounds for the development of extremist ideas and ideologies that promise instant solutions. There is, therefore, need to offer such newly elected governments all the support they need to not only identify but also nip at the bud extremist ideologies. In some countries, like Libya and Bahrain, some voices of disquiet are already emerging over the governments' inability to address the problems affecting the common man. Although such frustrations, as Jett (2012) points out, "may not lead the demonstrators to actually become terrorists, it provides a strong incentive for them to support people who are." This is likely to further complicate the global war against terror.

The military approach, what has variously been branded 'pre-emptive self-defense' -- which essentially means attacking jurisdictions or 'terror centers' believed to be supporting terrorists -- has also significantly destabilized the international system, further fueling terror campaigns and insurgencies across the world. In practice, the 'pre-emptive self-defense' approach is nothing more than preventive war, which has no sound legal basis. Essentially, wanton application of this doctrine has created a network of sympathizers, thus providing perfect breeding grounds for terror.

According to Hoffman (2010), terror formations are, to a large extent, learning organizations. In the words of the authors, such groups are often able to adapt and adjust "to even the most formidable governmental countermeasures to continue their struggle" (Hoffman, 2010). Somalia's militant groups are perfect examples. For instance, after having sent its troops to Somalia sometimes in 2011, Kenya (an East African country) was largely successful in pacifying the al-Shabaab -- a Somali-based militant group that has closely been to al-Qaeda. In addition to capturing most of the regions that had previously been under al-Shabaab, Kenyan soldiers also managed to dismantle the terror groups organizational and command structure -- dealing a fatal blow to order and sanity in the group. The troops also managed to capture the key port town of Kismayo, a critical port that the group has in the past made use of to import ammunition and assorted weapons. Just when Kenya was convinced it had won the war, the militant group seems to be reorganizing itself. During the past one year, the terror formation has launched guerilla like attacks in Kenya, with the most prominent attack having been launched at a shopping mall popular with expatriates. This incident left more than 60 dead. This is a perfect example of the ability of terrorist formations to adapt to setbacks.

The United States suffered the same fate post Sept 11, 2001. By 2008 -- seven years after successfully launching attacks in the U.S. soil, Al-Qaeda had pretty much regrouped. As Hoffman (2010), points out, although a shadow of its former self, this particular terror group had managed to regroup and re-organize itself in the Pakistani-Afghanistan boarder -- a largely lawless region. This, according to the author became a sanctuary from where it could train militants, plan and launch attacks, and operate without much scrutiny.

For many, the killing of Osama Bin Laden ought to have brought to an abrupt end the operations of al-Qaeda, a group he headed for approximately two decades. Today, there are those who believe that the group has just changed form to a less centralized organization. Unlike during Osama's leadership, when most of the terror group's policy decisions were guided by the leader, the organization has today metamorphosed into a loose coalition of franchises. This ability of terror formations to adjust after major setbacks and morph into something else is something that ought to be taken into consideration by the various stakeholders in the war against terror. It is this ability to adapt that has seen terrorist groups manage to, or at least seem to, roll back gains made in the war against terror. It is clear from these examples that the war against terror cannot be won using the same approaches that have been applied in the past. There are no guarantees that these approaches, given that they have failed to pacify terrorist groups in the past, will be successful if applied again. In the words of Hoffman (2010, p. 360), "clearly, terrorist groups today show a degree of resiliency and capacity for survival that has increased their average life span some five to ten times that of their Cold War counterparts."

To reduce terrorism and political violence, there is need for the modification of the existing security dimension. I would propose that nations re-evaluate their global intelligence-gathering methodologies. Of key importance… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Global Efforts to Reduce Terrorism: Have They Been Effective?."  Essaytown.com.  July 3, 2014.  Accessed April 22, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/global-efforts-reduce-terrorism-been/4465363.