TERRORISM AS ASYMMETRIC
"The pirate code is more what'ya call guidelines than actual rules" (Pirates of the Caribbean)
Modern terrorism is a manifestation of asymmetric warfare due to a transition or evolution in terrorist strategy in recent years. While old tactics remain, newer terrorists shun hierarchical command structures in favor of horizontal, leaderless, or amorphous "freelance" structures. These kinds of structures are designed perfectly for the purpose of not wanting a whole lot of people watching, but wanting a whole lot of people dead. Martyrdom has become the weapon of choice in asymmetric warfare because the willingness to accept casualties has been made so easy. It is a low-tech, low-cost weapon wielded against formidable adversaries with unrivaled might and power. When Osama bin Laden issued his 1998 fatwa calling for Americans to be killed anywhere in the world, he laid the foundation for asymmetrical international war, which Raymond (2003) defines as "organized violence conducted between political units of vastly unequal military capability, where the weaker side relies on relatively low-tech means to attack a more powerful high-tech opponent."
Basically, asymmetric warfare involves overcoming the superior with the inferior, but as Stepanova (2008) notes, the fighting is not always militarized nor should it always be called "warfare." Other terms exist to describe it, such as demilitarized asymmetry, or "conflict" or "confrontation" or "struggle." Asymmetric conflict can be said to occur not only when a weak actor battles a more powerful actor, but uses unorthodox or unconventional tactics, different kinds of weapons, modified technology, or distorted rules of engagement. Conflicts such as this, no matter whether of "low" or "high" intensity, have well-described most insurgencies and secessionist movements since 1941 (Black 2000). Asymmetric confrontation can be said to include such things as economic destabilization of currency, cyberterrorism in the form of swamping the Internet, narcoterrorism in the form of encouraging drug production and smuggling, and domestic terrorism in the form of promulgating dangerous, hateful ideas. The basic idea is to corrupt a powerful country from within by flooding it with all kinds of bad, fake, harmful, deceptive, and divisive stuff. Confrontations such as this may involve "virtual" opposition between ideologies, identities, and intellects. As Waller (2007) says, it is a war of ideas. It can even be called "spiritual warfare" or "mental fight" since the kind of asymmetric confrontations we see today are often between secular rationality and religious zealotry, between inner-worldliness to other-worldliness, or between thoughtful complaints and imaginary grievances. The futility of rational discourse makes this kind of warfare the sort that isn't easily settled by diplomatic solutions. Continued use of the word "warfare" is certainly appropriate, but it must always be remembered (or hoped) that this does not mean that military solutions are the only approach possible.
The traditional military approach to the topic is best exemplified by Metz & Johnson (2001) who define asymmetry as "acting, organizing, and thinking differently than opponents in order to maximize one's advantages, exploit an opponent's weaknesses, attain the initiative, or gain greater freedom of action." Normally, a regular military force engages in asymmetry unintentionally during the heat of war, but an irregular military force, like terrorism, engages in asymmetry consistently and deliberately. Following Metz & Johnson's (2001) line of thinking, conventional terrorism can too easily generate a backlash against those who use it. Terrorists know this, and strive to achieve outcomes in terms of psychological advantage (image of fierceness) rather than material advantage. The problem, for the terrorists, then becomes one of sustaining psychological advantage, and the problem is compounded because sustaining any kind of asymmetry over the long run requires constant effort and adaptation. Changes and modifications can, of course, be easily made at the operational level, but at the strategic level, a distinction should be made, again, according to Metz & Johnson (2001) between positive and negative asymmetry. Positive asymmetry involves combining the psychological attack with successful, conventional, and spectacular attacks. Negative asymmetry is the continued reliance upon "soft power" attacks.
Some weapons are better or worse than others. Nuclear weapons usage is clearly in the ballpark when it comes to asymmetric warfare, but better yet are so-called "designer" weapons. What is "unconventional" about asymmetric warfare is the use of weaponry, any weaponry, beyond the "conventional" limitations or restrictions (moral, legal, technological) regarding their use. What is "nontraditional" about asymmetric warfare is total rejection of the idea that opponents in a conflict should "fight fair." However, it may be noted that the concept of fairness in conflict has always had subjective and definitional problems. A far better description of non-traditional-ness would capture the attributes of breathtaking, ruthless, or crafty. The notion that terrorists use the privileges of liberty to destroy liberty captures the conceptualization well. Then again, the concept of liberty varies, and asymmetry (as difference) is likely the norm in international affairs, given uneven development of the concept of liberty. It might go too far to say that anarchy is the norm, but only in a theoretical sense is there symmetry in the real world. Asymmetry is a fluid concept, used conceptually in many ways. Lambakis et. al. (2002:242) list some common ways the term is used, as follows:
new, unorthodox, surprising, urgent, and unfamiliar threats
novel tactics and operations available to potential enemies
vulnerabilities, unhardened or soft targets, and lack of defenses
historically unique security circumstances facing a major power
constraints that a major power places upon itself in the use of its strengths
weakness or softness in executing responses to threats
It will be noted that the last two on this list, which might be called "failed positive asymmetry," reflect the possibility that a major power, like the U.S., can defeat itself. In fact, getting a major power to defeat itself is one of the goals of asymmetric warfare. A crafty, weaker opponent will try to draw a more powerful yet restrained opponent into an intractable "quagmire" or "entanglement.|" Magstadt (2004:160) has a good, description of the factors which constitute a quagmire, as follows:
having no idea how or when to get out
not knowing whom you can trust once you get there
not understanding the local language or customs
being increasingly perceived as occupiers
having soldiers getting killed on a daily basis by an invisible enemy
watching the public turn against the leaders who "got us into this mess" in the first place
facing condemnation abroad, including by one's own allies
fostering obsessive secrecy in government on "national security" grounds
eroding civil liberties at home while claiming to intervene on behalf of liberty abroad
It's customary to say that the United States as a military power is unmatched by any "peer" competitor. It has successfully fought such peers, even those who have used asymmetric tactics, since the 1700s, and it has done so while maintaining civil liberties and while fighting countries which did not have to worry about justifying "controversial" tactics to its citizens. However, what the United States is poorly prepared for is asymmetric warfare by "non-peer" competitors. Take Somalia, for instance, where elite U.S. military forces suffered an ignominious defeat by a small enemy who engaged in "barbaric" acts for the benefit of the news media. The attacks of 9/11 also represent asymmetric warfare because the hijacking and crashing of planes into symbolic targets was unimaginable and unthinkable. Battling the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan have been quagmires. The future holds many quagmires yet to come.
BREAKING THE WILL OF A MAJOR POWER
It's not hard to break the will of a major power. The will (moral nerve, resolve, popular support, commitment, or whatever you want to call it) of a nation can be easily broken by non-kinetic weapons. Major powers, despite their enormous resources, usually have an aversion to casualties, can tolerate only so much damage, are sensitive to public opinion, and are reluctant to commit to any long war. In this sense, the "culture" of a major power represents its greatest vulnerability. A country ruled by the will of its people, as Ignatieff (2004) points out, is vulnerable precisely because the truths it holds to be self-evident are exactly the ones a terrorist hopes to turn against it. Every terrorist hopes for an excessive and heavy-handed counter-reaction to their attack. Every terrorist hopes their opponent will eventually join them; "if you wish to beat me, you will have to join me" (Ignatieff 2004a). Modern terrorists are now film directors, scoring propaganda triumphs anytime the news media broadcasts another one of their beheading videos, speeches by their leaders, a martyrdom tape, or some news story about profiling or any other civil liberties violation. Nothing is more ready-made for a corporate, information society than asymmetric warfare. Images (Nacos 1996), spectacles (Giroux 2006), and megaspectacles (Kellner 2005) become weapons of war. They are ways to test and shatter will. The terrorist is counting on moral disgust and the sense of futility that follows disgust. Terrorist media campaigns are designed to crack the will to continue to fight. Any delay or slowdown on the part of a major power will be interpreted as surrender.
A clever enemy will use an opponent's self-imposed restraints against them. Not only freedom of speech and freedom of press, but freedom of religion as well, and of course, any constitutional safeguards protecting the rights of criminal defendants and/or prisoners of war. When captured in the heat of battle, every terrorist wants their day in court, will exhaust every possible legal avenue for relief, and will play every card they can, including the "race card" to "beat the system." They know this prolongs matters, ties up a wider civilian audience, and takes advantage of a relatively inefficient and sometimes contradictory criminal justice system. They know in court that it is very likely that they will be set free on a technicality. They know lawyers exist who will defend the devil, and even though they don't know all the ins and outs, they intuitively know there is something justicable in the novel way their asymmetric threat played out. Exploiting what the court system needs to be interested in (for creating precedent) is a part of the terrorist objective. They know that legal dissension creates public dissension. They know which jurisdictions and which judges are the most sympathetic to their cause. They know that the judicial branch of government can reign in the executive and legislative branches of government. They know how to garner support from sources of international law (and Sharia law), this being one of the main ways to get a major power's allies to withdraw support. They know that "stalling" or delaying tactics in court systems always work in their favor. Some of the best weapons do not shoot.
Terrorists monitor public opinion closely. Without popular support, every terrorist knows that political will cannot sustain. Breaking the will of a major nation requires siege warfare (or as bin Laden put it, "patience in fighting"). An increase in psychological fatigue is directly related to the amount of time spent defending against psychological warfare than in turning the tables and always keeping the enemy in the wrong. For a major nation to counter psychological warfare, it must always remain on the offensive. No single-message strategy (like "America stands for freedom") will work. There must be an assertive and relentless campaign (of both hard and soft power exercises) that is continually adapting to constantly discredit an enemy. Even a nation with a democratic form of government can do this. It does not require 100% of public support.
BREAKING THE WILL OF TERRORISTS
American forces only have experience with wars of attrition (like Vietnam) and Fabian tactics (like those used by George Washington during the Revolutionary War). An attrition strategy involves wearing down the enemy until they lose their will to fight. A Fabian strategy involves harassing an enemy to cause attrition and loss of morale. Fabian tactics avoid direct engagements, relying instead upon chance encounters and skirmishes. Fabian strategy is a policy of continual retreat that is often combined with scorched earth tactics. In modern parlance, it is known as a "drain the swamp" strategy, where a major power intervenes in the internal affairs of some terrorism breeding place, and in rather muscular fashion, sorts out the friendlies from the non-friendlies, destroying anything and everything that could ever be used by terrorists or their sympathizers. Obviously, this is not a just war strategy in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and it also runs contrary to OPLAW and international law. A related strategy is assassination (of terrorist leaders), but the efficacy of that is not so much questionable on moral grounds but for the practical reasons that it sometimes results in rampaging, out-of-control followers, brings to power more militant, replacement leaders, and sometimes encourages the counter-assassination of our own leaders.
It is the consensus of most experts that attrition warfare should be avoided, at least in favor of small wars where expeditionary force is joined by diplomatic effort (Boot 2003). The hard truth is that any war against terrorism is going to need successes, and lots of them. Success, even the perception of success, will overcome decline in popular support. Yet, it is important to note that major powers and terrorists define success differently. A major power usually defines success in terms of surrender, while a terrorist usually defines success as resistance. While the idea of terrorist surrender sounds idealistic, theoretically, attrition could conceivably destroy terrorism once and for all by tackling it head-on. Hence, there is some appeal to attrition warfare. Defeating terrorism entirely will probably require it. Attrition fighting always involves an arms race. It is an "overwhelming firepower" strategy long ago advocated in the theories of Clausewitz. A modern variety of it is known as "shock and awe" which involves spectacular displays of overwhelming power (Ullman & Wade 1996). It's a long way from small war, but attrition warfare also tries to avoid civilian casualties through surgical precision strikes. What is also called "blitzkrieg" is somewhat surgical and tightly focused. Shock and awe is rapid like blitzkrieg, but the important part of it is the message it sends out of incomprehensible destruction that is capable of being wielded by an invincible power. There is nothing wrong with being an invincible power. Invincibility doesn't invite terrorism as some might fear.
It is important to make an enemy feel impotent, demoralized, and suicidal. For an irrational, suicidal enemy, this is already accomplished for you, and all that is necessary is to help them meet their maker. Martyrdom is not a winning form of asymmetric warfare. It is a type of total or attrition warfare (fighting to the death), but martyrdom is not socially or psychologically contagious. It has a limited lifespan. It is impossible to put together enough martyrs to muster a winning force in any kind of warfare. It does not deter anything. It is only a sideline attraction to other kinetic and non-kinetic operations. Killing martyrs (potential would-be martyrs) can have a deterrent effect, and eventually, the uselessness and futility of the tactic will be recognized for what it truly is -- a losing proposition. It is, additionally, only of sideline academic interest as to what exactly are the root causes of a desire for martyrdom.
To fully defeat martyrdom, a tough stance is called for. Consider the madman case of North Korea which knows it can never withstand the onslaught of a full-scale attack. Such a rogue nation might calculate that it must risk everything, including its own destruction, because it has nothing left to lose. Under such circumstances, the asymmetric relationship becomes a game of chance, and it is proper, as Arreguin-Toft (2001) points out, to focus on the relationship of the strategy, not the power of the actors, their technology, or whatever outside support they are receiving. After all the appropriate de-escalation efforts have failed, what you have left is the only proper way to play this game. A fight to the death requires a counter, lose-it-all gamble, which is essentially what "the martyr's strategy" is all about. The game was played well during the Cold War when each side held to civil defense visions of what hell looked like when the "living would envy the dead." It is entirely possible to accomplish this via propaganda, although the danger is that eventually your bluff gets called and a get-tough example or two may be needed.
MULTIPLE ASYMMETRIC THREATS
It is brutally clear that a wide spectrum of asymmetric "threats" exist, with the word threat understood here in the sense that Cordesman (2001) uses it to describe everything from overt attacks by long-range missiles to deranged acts of madness by psychologically disturbed individuals. In terms of forecasting the future, it can be said that the lethality of terrorist incidents is likely to increase as terrorist groups set new standards for barbarism. Nobody knows exactly how asymmetric threats will evolve in the future, but it is likely that weapons of mass destruction will be involved, as technology becomes cheaper and espionage becomes better. Industrial espionage is always a threat, especially to a country that is the world's leader in research and development, but so is good, old-fashioned espionage. For example, Cordesman (2001) notes that a significant number of Iranian students attending U.S. universities are hardcore members of fanatical, anti-American organizations which the Iranian government relies upon for low-level intelligence and technical expertise. There are good reasons why some terrorist operations are closely tied to schools, colleges, and universities -- they are safe environments relatively free from penalties and prosecutions. Libertarians, for their part, argue that colleges and universities ought to be places of extreme dissent. However, an alternative view might hold that colleges and universities ought to be honored places where only the "study" of ideology occurs, and where there is no place for radical pedagogy. Nonetheless, colleges and universities represent the most open of all institutions in an open society. They appeal to terrorists seeking asymmetric advantage in the same way opens borders do.
Cyberspace is another medium for terrorist advantage. Itself having open borders, the Internet represents an area of the commons where freedom of access to information is cherished but not safeguarded. Terrorists use the Internet for a number of purposes: intelligence gathering, communication, recruitment, and propaganda. Terrorists would not likely unleash viruses, worms, or distributed denial of service attacks because they have a vested interest in seeing that the Internet remains functional. Yet, whenever so inclined, terrorists, especially heavily-funded narcoterrorists or organized criminals could probably take down the Internet tomorrow. It's hard for cybersecurity to stay one step ahead of the hackers, and EMP (Electromagnetic pulse) weapons are easily created and deployed. Information warfare is the more likely scenario, as the Western nations are continually learning from sophisticated intrusions emanating from places like China and North Korea.
Intelligence failure is another part of asymmetric warfare, and indeed, an expected part. It is exactly the terrorist intention to thwart confidence in intelligence-led counterterrorism, to stymie the ability to predict when the "different" or "unknown" is about to happen. There are many ways to commit intelligence failure, but bureaucratic ineptitude at not being able to connect the dots is probably the worst way. Mirror-imaging is also a problem because asymmetric threats are novel and imaginative. They defeat the strategic imagination as well as imaginative threat assessment. Another problem is when intelligence is subordinated to policy, or what is more typically referred to as pressure for consensus. When terrorists catch a major power's intelligence services off guard, this is more than a trophy for them. It makes that whole nation look stupid, dumb, foolish, incompetent, and cowardly.
Another, not unimportant, part of asymmetric warfare is that it spreads or spills over (the spillover effect). By this is meant that, today, the terrorists are coming after America, but tomorrow, it can easily be another nation next. In fact, it could be argued, as Crenshaw (2003) does, that the primary reason America is the popular target today is because as an open society, America is a "soft" target and the radical frustration generated within the Middle East was unable to be played out in the relatively totalitarian societies there. In other words, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict got spilled over. It may or may not be the case that another nation gets targeted because they are allies with America. It may be the case that some poor, innocent nation gets targeted simply because they're some innocent, poor target.
The character of asymmetric warfare has changed since international terrorists have gotten involved with it. In the past, when it was largely confined to domestic terrorism, it was always possible to ascertain the motivations, or the why, behind the irregular act. Connecting personalities to targets was a relatively easy analytical task. Today, the how is far more important, as motivations and mindsets increasingly exceed the capacity of rational understanding, at least from a Western point of view. Some modern adversaries cannot be deterred by any means. To make matters worse, modern terrorists have a wide range of asymmetric options and capabilities. They can target symbolic icons, critical infrastructure, environmental heath, political leaders, intelligence services, and cherished or honored institutions. They can also kill a lot of innocent civilians for no reason at all, just because they happen to be in a vulnerable place at the wrong time (the Achilles heel problem). Potential victims of asymmetric warfare need to learn how to protect themselves, and this begins by thinking in unconventional ways, like the terrorists do.
THE TACTICAL REPERTOIRE OF TERRORISM
Traditionally, terrorists have had a limited repertoire, involving the common tactics of bombing, assassination, armed assault, kidnapping, hijacking, and embassy seizure. How nice it would be if we could just redefine terrorism out of existence and call it bombing again. Unfortunately, innovation in tactics is a characteristic of asymmetric warfare, and modern terrorists innovate more than imitate. As Jenkins (2003) points out, their ability to switch tactics and shift their sights on alternative targets are key reasons why terrorism is so hard to defend against. The situation is asymmetrical, says Jenkins (2003), because unlike regular soldiers, terrorists do not have to attack at a certain time and place. Governments, however, because they prefer not to become garrison states, cannot protect everything, everywhere, all the time. This asymmetry means an inequality of effort exists between attackers and defenders. Even a small number of terrorist attackers would need a large number of government defenders. Terrorism becomes a cheap way to fight and a costly thing to defend against. Terrorism, in short, involves a variety of "nasty tactics." Governments who plan to fight against it really need to beef up their resources and budget for it.
Terrorism also embeds itself into a variety of forms, some types of it being like war, and other types of it being like crime. Still other types of it may appear as mental illness or disease. As terrorism transmutes and transforms, it may become unrecognizable as terrorism. It may turn into organized transnational crime or it may turn into protest and dissent or any number of other social problems that open societies concede or come to tolerate. This creates a situation where the next generation of terrorists may be even more innovative than the last generation because the old generation will be seen as having sold out or having been co-opted. The truth is that with asymmetric warfare, a line has been crossed, a genie has been let out of the bottle, and it's far too late to go back to the old way of doing things.
WINNING AT ASYMMETRIC WARFARE
No one has yet come up with a successful way to defend against asymmetric warfare. As proposed here, the best defense is a good offense, but it may be instructional to review some of the ideas on defense. Let's take a look at two approaches, the first using common sense and the second following a more academic perspective. First, Major Mike (2005) says there are four factors that might defeat asymmetric tactics: adaptability, flexibility, tenacity, and will. These factors require a great deal of time to take effect. Eventually, much of a nation's resources and population capacities must be brought to bear over the long run in order to wear down terrorist opponents so that they run out of maneuver room. Adaptability means taking some kind of offense. One will perpetually lose in a "hunker down" posture which continually takes the defense. Flexibility means nimbleness, such as letting unit commanders make more operational decisions. Tenacity means being tough mentally so that troop morale and ferocity remain intact. Will means self-righteousness. It is important to be convinced that the fight for peace and freedom is righteous. Hammes (2004), in a way, supports these long-term ideas which might be called "a Darwinian strategy" since the winner is whomever outlasts the evolutionary struggle.
A more academic approach can be found in Gurr (2003) who points out there are three ways to defeat terrorism: backlash, reform, and deterrence. Backlash entails acts of disruption or violence which have the opposite effect of what the terrorists intended. This involves trying to obtain the withdrawal of group support for terrorism. Backlash makes it difficult for the terrorists to attract new recruits, get material resources, find sympathizers, and avoid informants. Overly dramatic acts of violence against totally innocent victims are likely to produce backlash, if that line hasn't been crossed and the terrorism is still functioning. If so, the only option, as Gurr (2003) puts it, is to wait until public sentiment swings. Reform entails a policy of concession to at least some of the grievances that terrorists have. Reform often involves making use of "ex-terrorists" who have voluntarily exited. The reasoning here is that once it becomes evident a dominant power is willing to accommodate some demands, terrorism becomes a less attractive strategy. It is also just as possible that terrorism would be encouraged, especially among the more intellectual in the bunch. Deterrence entails killing and imprisoning terrorists, or at least enough to put the rest in their place. The problem here is that the deterrent value of this is extremely difficult to measure and would likely produce the same outcomes as criminal punishment.
Clearly, terrorism as asymmetric warfare presents numerous challenges, and smart minds are needed to help figure out solutions to those challenges. One final, and hopeful, point is that terrorism may NOT be all that asymmetric. In many ways, terrorists are not smart enough for it, and many terrorist groups are still more imitative than innovative. This means that their patterns and trends should be easily analyzable using standard intelligence-led cycles. Yet, with the new face of terrorism, not only will changes be needed in the way intelligence analysis is done, but asymmetry prompts changes in the ways society needs to get things done. As an example of the former, let's look at a new model of counterterrorism going around intelligence circles since 2006. It's called the "Ziggurat of Zealotry" and can be briefly explained as below:
The Ziggurat of Zealotry
|A ziggurat is a Mesopotamian-style pyramid with numerous walkways ascending to gates and eventually to a temple on top. Inside are elevators to various levels. Maze-like in configuration, the ziggurat is a model of the Islamic terrorism threat, and particularly the multi-stepped process of radicalization and recruitment into terrorism. At bottom are individuals seeking peaceful "inner struggle" jihad. Above them are missionaries seeking to expand Islam. Above them are those involved in radical politics. Above them are those who have abandoned politics altogether in favor of violence. At the top are global jihadists. Counterterrorism needs to disrupt the elevators without irking those at the lower levels and nudging them up in other ways. Reference: Shainin, J. "The Ziggurat of Zealotry" The New York Times, December 10, 2006.|
JUST ASYMMETRIC WARFARE
Can there be a "just" asymmetric war? Or, is such fighting so complex, so inherently unfair, that the matter calls for something like a new set of Geneva Conventions? These questions cannot be answered because there are too many conflicting theories about the forms of war (gang war, range war, class war, resource war, civil war, limited war, small war, guerrilla war, total war, fourth generation war, network-centric war). Just as it is unlikely the world would come together for agreement on a new set of Geneva Conventions, it is unlikely that any acceptable theory of war would tolerate a clash of civilizations thesis like that proposed by the likes of Huntington (1996), Barber (1996), Friedman (2000), Fukuyama (1992), and Zakaria (2003). Like it or not, terrorism plays by its own rules, and does not necessarily follow the march or decline of civilization. In a very real sense, the world is captive to the ethics of terrorists. The question then becomes: Do they have any ethics?
Let's examine jihadist ethics for a moment. Islam prohibits all kinds of warfare except in the form of jihad, and martyrdom in the name of jihad is the only sure-fire, foolproof way of getting into Paradise for a Muslim believer. Khadduri (1984) provides a neat little description of the Islamic approach as follows:
Islamic Conceptions of Just (Jihad) and Unjust War
|1. Just wars are wars in the
defense of cities against foreign attacks
2. Just wars assert valid claims against a foreign people who fail to honor a city's (or community of believers) rights
3. Just wars are against foreign people who refuse to accept a public order considered to be the best and most suitable for them
4. Just wars are against a foreign people whose place in the world is considered to be that of servitude as the best and most suitable for them
|1. Unjust wars are motivated by
the Ruler's personal advantage such as lust for power, honor, or glory
2. Unjust wars are wars of conquest waged by the Ruler for the subordination of peoples other than the people of the city (or community) over which he presides
3. Unjust wars seek retribution, the object of which can be achieved by means other than force
4. Unjust wars lead to the killing of innocent men for no reason other than the Ruler's propensity or pleasure for killing
No belief system is without its ethics, and it appears from the above that even jihadism has its ethics. Revolutionary terrorists back in the 1970s would often issue warnings or pronouncements ahead of time, and jihadists also seem to go to the trouble of obtaining fatwas and/or issuing warnings. A strong sense of proportionality also runs thru Islamic ethics. Proportionality is a part of Western ethics, as can be seen from the following set of Western principles on just war:
Jus ad bellum Restraints (resort, justifiability)
Jus in bello Restraints (scale, permissibility)
|1. Last resort -- war
must not be entered into with undue haste or unseemly enthusiasm, but only
after all other means of resolution have been tried
2. Legitimate authority -- the decision to go to war cannot be made by disgruntled individuals or self-appointed groups; it must come from a duly constituted authority
3. Just cause -- war is unacceptable if motivated by aggression or revenge; it must be consistent with the principles of self-defense, charity, or the defense of others
4. Chance of success -- only when there is a reasonable chance of an acceptable outcome is war justifiable; futile fighting cannot be justified
5. Goal of peace -- it must be possible, looking ahead, to envision a peace that is preferable to the situation that would prevail if the war was not fought
6. Peaceful intention -- the motives for war are important for various reasons according to Aquinas and Augustine, and to Grotius, presumably to avoid the pathologies of war and the problem of simultaneous justice (both sides being equally right)
7. Formal declaration -- a statement of charges should be made, presumably to assure full accountability
|1. Proportionality -- the
same as conditions 3-5 of the jus ad bellum restraints as a cost-benefit
principle sometimes phrased as the principle of proportionate response
as action limited to what is reasonably necessary to accomplish lawful
objectives, but not exactly equally symmetrical, but approximate
2. Double effect -- a specific application of the proportionality principle which says that the "good" effects of war (bringing it to an end) must be maximized, and the "bad" effects of war (like collateral damage) must be minimized
3. Discrimination -- synonymous with "noncombatant immunity" which states that civilians must not be directly or intentionally targeted, although it is condoned that some "indirect" targeting will be inadvertent or for strategic purposes like destroying manufacturing capability or defeating the other side's morale; sometimes called the principle of "military proportionality" when under dire circumstances, civilians are killed and the principle of double effect is violated or overridden
4. Treatment of prisoners -- there should be some restraint in dealing with prisoners, and for Grotius, only those guilty of grave or serious offenses in the line of duty ought to be punished
Clearly, more laws of war are violated by terrorists than those obeyed. If one was being charitable, one could say that, with the possible addition of proportionality, there is more agreement on the jus ad bellum side than the jus in bello side. However, terrorists kill innocent civilians without remorse, and no stretching of the proportionality principle or a "necessity defense" are ever going to provide cover for this. With asymmetric fighting, the principle of discrimination comes most into play, the targets not necessarily being material things, but the "hearts and minds" (morale) of a people. The scale of asymmetric warfare makes it a jus in bello consideration, and the permissibility of it becomes (or should become) a matter involving the jus cogens concept in international law. In other words, the kind of siege warfare which asymmetric warfare exemplifies ought to not only have rules on participation and non-participation, but points at which one could say war crimes have occurred. To get to that point requires a greater understanding and appreciation of the phenomenon as well as a willingness to recognize a war of ideas as a real war.
Air War College List of Resources for Asymmetric Warfare
Asymmetry and U.S. Military Strategy (pdf)
Asymmetric Warfare and the Evolution/Devolution of Terrorism
Lecture on Laws of War and Just War
Major Mike (2005) Blog on Winning Asymmetric War
Military Response to 4thGen Warfare in Afghanistan
Preparing for Asymmetry as Seen Through Joint Vision 2020 (pdf)
RMA Debate Page of Asymmetric Warfare Resources
Rough Draft of Cordesman's Book on Terror Threats (pdf)
White House National Security Homepage
Wikipedia Entry for Asymmetric Warfare
Wikipedia Entry for Attrition Warfare
Wikipedia Entry for Fabian Strategy
Wikipedia Entry for Shock and Awe
Arreguin-Toft, I. (2001). How the weak win wars: A theory of asymmetric conflict. International Security 26(1): 93–128.
Barber, B. (1996). Jihad vs. McWorld. NY: Ballantine.
Barnett, R. (2003). Asymmetrical warfare. Dulles, VA: Brassey's.
Black, J. (2000). War: Past, present, and future. NY: St. Martin's.
Boot, M. (2003). The savage wars of peace: Small wars and the rise of American power. NY: Basic.
Carafano, J. & Rosenzweig, P. (2005). Winning the long war. Washington, DC: Heritage Foundation. [available online]
Clark, W. (2003). Winning modern wars. NY: Public Affairs.
Cordesman, A. (2001). Terrorism, asymmetric warfare, and weapons of mass destruction. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Crenshaw, M. (2003). Why is America the primary Target? In C. Kegley (ed.) The new global terrorism (pp. 160-172). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Friedman, T. (2000). The Lexis and the olive tree. NY: Anchor.
Fukuyama, F. (1992). The end of history and the last man. NY: Free Press.
Giroux, H. (2006). Beyond the spectacle of terrorism. Boulder, CO: Paradigm.
Gurr, T. (2003). Terrorism in democracies: When it occurs, why it fails. In C. Kegley (ed.) The new global terrorism (pp. 202-215). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Hammes, T. (2004). The sling and the stone: On war in the 21st century. St. Paul, MN: Zenith Press.
Huntington, S. (1996). The clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order. NY: Simon & Schuster.
Ignatieff, M. (2004). The lesser evil: Political ethics in an age of terror. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press.
Ignatieff, M. (2004a). The terrorist as auteur. New York Times Magazine (Nov. 15): 50. [available online]
Jenkins, B. (2003). International terrorism. In C. Kegley (ed.) The new global terrorism (pp. 15-26). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Kellner, D. (2005). Media spectacle and the crisis of democracy. Boulder, CO: Paradigm.
Khadduri, M. (1984). The Islamic conception of justice. Baltimore: John Hopkins Univ. Press.
Lambakis, S., Kiras, J. & Kolet, K. (2002). Understanding asymmetric threats to the United States. Comparative Strategy 21: 241-277.
Metz, S. (2000). Armed conflict in the 21st century: The information revolution and postmodern warfare. Carlisle Barracks, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College.
Magstadt, T. (2004). An empire if you can keep it: Power and principle in American foreign policy. Washington DC: CQ Press.
Metz, S. & Johnson, D. (2001). Asymmetry and U.S. military strategy: Definition, background and strategic concepts. Carlisle Barracks, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College. [available online]
Nacos, B. (1996). Terrorism and the media. NY: Columbia Univ. Press.
Paul, T. (1994). Asymmetric Conflicts: War Initiation by Weaker Powers. NY: Cambridge Univ. Press.
Raymond, G. (2003). The evolving strategies of political terrorism." In C. Kegley (ed.) The new global terrorism (pp. 71-83). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Schilling, W. (2002). Nontraditional warfare: 21st century threats and responses. Dulles, VA: Potomac.
Stepanova, E. (2008). Terrorism in asymmetrical conflict: SIPRI Report #23. NY: Oxford Univ. Press. [available online]
Thornton, R. (2006). Asymmetric warfare: Threat and response in the 21st Century. NY: Polity.
Ullman, H. & Wade, J. (1996). Shock and awe: Achieving rapid dominance. Washington DC: NDU.
Waller, J. (2007). Fighting the war of ideas like a real war. Washington DC: Inst. of World Politics Press.
Zakaria, F. (2003). The future of freedom. NY: Norton.
Last updated: Aug 23, 2010
Not an official webpage of APSU, copyright restrictions apply, see Megalinks in Criminal Justice
O'Connor, T. (Date of Last Update at bottom of page). In Part of web cited (Windows name for file at top of browser), MegaLinks in Criminal Justice. Retrieved from http://www.drtomoconnor.com/rest of URL accessed on today's date.