January 14, 2004
A recent report from the Army War College poses some hard questions about the direction we're taking in the War on Terrorism.
Hot on the heels of the Carnegie report, Jeffry Record at the Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute chimes in with a critical dissection of national strategy for the Global War On Terrorism (GWOT). Titled "Bounding the Global War on Terrorism," the 56-page article examines the war on terrorism in more detail than we've seen from the military perspective.
(What is it about acronyms that creates such an ugly feel for the English language. How is anyone expected to pronounce "GWOT" and not feel silly?)
Leaden acronyms aside, Record does a nice job of it. The war on terrorism is examined through three frameworks: 1) "threat postulation" -- an awkward way of saying "what we're supposedly fighting against" 2) the scope and feasibility of our strategic objectives and 3) the "sustainability" of the "war."
Record repeats some of the criticisms which have been voiced ever since the Bush administration went to war on terror, namely: terrorism is an awfully vague sort of target for military means; Al Qaida and Iraq are totally different objectives but are conflated to be the same thing; and so forth. These are all good points and Record explores them in depth.
But the part I think is most useful is his attempt at deriving a strategically useful defininition of "terrorism." The current strategy (if the aggressive zig-zagging of the Bush administration can actually be described as a "strategy") is neither sustainable nor likely to be successful in accomplishing its claimed goals. Stated another way, "what's the end game and will our current direction get us there?"
It's worth serious thought and debate. So far, there hasn't been much of either.
Never mind my summarizing. Go read it.