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Wednesday, February 28 2024 @ 03:12 MST

Why we're losing the "War on Terror"

International PoliticsEvery time I see an article dealing with the so-called "War on Terror (TM, Pat. Pend)" it strikes me how badly we (the West) are losing. With every change to our rights and freedoms, our very way of life that governments impose on us in the name of security, it's one more victory for those we are "fighting" in this "war". Here's why: First, there seems to be some kind of mistaken belief that the goal of the terrorists is to kill people. This is only true in the sense that the goal of the D-Day invasions was to kill Germans. Just as the Allies had a larger goal for the D-Day invasions, the so-called terror organizations have larger goals as well. The ultimate goal of the 9-11 terrorists was to change the way we live here in the West. From what I read in the media and hear from our political leadership, the terrorists are well on their way to reaching that goal. Western democracy is based on individual freedom and liberty. The implementation may differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but the underlying basis remains the same. With each restriction to that freedom our own governments foist upon us in reaction to terrorist activity, the terrorists come one step closer to winning as we chip away at our own way of life for the security that will never come.

I say that the security will never come because another part of the problem with the way our political leadership views the situation. Through their statements and actions, it would seem that our political leaders are at best fighting the Cold War or at worst fighting World War II. When I say WWII, I mean they think they're the Allies going after the Nazi hordes. The reality is that we are the Germans facing the French Resistance. Terrorist organizations are by definition guerrilla fighters. This means they have radically different strategic and tactical goals than we do. What it comes down to is this: as a military organization, the West's view is we must win, and win at any cost. This has been a great view and it has served us well – against other Western armies. The win at any cost mentality is useful, necessary even, when one is facing an enemy who thinks the same way. One that will stop at nothing till they achieve victory. One that will move conventional arms into your territory to impose their will on you and your friends and families. Combat will be in direct battle between your military units and their military units. If you're fighting people like that, the win at all cost view of the world will be the one that rules your thinking.

The problem is that the guerrilla doesn't think like that. To the guerrilla, the win at any cost approach won't work since they don't have the resources to take on even a ill-equipped, untrained developing country army in a direct battle. Since they can't hope to achieve any type of military victory, they have to look at other ways of achieving their aims. So the general way is to use hit-and-run tactics, to make themselves such a nuisance that the other side gives up and leaves in order to cut their losses. The guerrilla doesn't have to win, he just has to not lose. Herein lies the strength of the guerrilla. As long as a line of recruits is there, there is no end to a guerrilla's battle. Losses amongst the guerrilla's side are small compared to the losses they inflict on the other side, so they continue on until the other side simply tires of the battle (which can take years). Add some religious fundamentalism to the guerrilla and you have a fanatical force that will stop at nothing to inflict damage on the other side, again with the rational that all they need to do is not lose.

It is this dichotomy that causes the problem for the West. Our political leadership is very much in the win at all costs camp. Firstly, it's how they became the leadership in the first place, with the battle we call elections and politics where if you don't try to win at all cost, you don't get into office. Secondly, the only wars we've really been successful in were the win at all cost types so we tend to stick with what we know. Thirdly, most of our political leadership is of the conservative type, which almost by definition is incapable of innovation and thinking in a different way. This is why we will lose. We're thinking the wrong way about the battle. Sending massive forces to other countries will only accomplish an increase in the number of recruits available to the other side as resentful teens flock to the "terror" banner.

As for the other side, they're winning. As it gets next to impossible to get onto an aircraft in the West, as our own governments spy on us on a daily basis as our basic freedoms disappear in the name of security, each is a step towards victory for Al-Queda and organizations like it. They're currently doing better than not losing, they're winning.
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