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Sean Gilfillan Headshot

Why We Have The Wrong Strategy to Combat "Terrorism"

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You cannot win a "War on Terrorism". Period.

This is the same BS we hear with the "War on Drugs" and the "War on Poverty" and every other "war" we declare on inanimate objects, casual effects and conditions. These are simply sound bites, but sometimes there is nothing actually BEHIND the sound bite like... hmmm... a comprehensive policy? Maybe a strategy even? What is the United States' exact strategy to combat organizations that use terror as a tactic? Do we even have the appropriate assets in order to do so?

Ok. Let's back up. For those that don't know, there are 3 levels of decision-making; strategic, operational and tactical. A strategy is an overall goal set by a leader of an organization. To rid the world of nuclear weapons is a strategic goal. Operations are specifically designed to fulfill that specific strategic goal. Forming alliances and good relations with nations that both have nuclear weapons and are pursuing nuclear weapons could be an example of operational decision making. Having the state department meet with their representatives would be a tactic based on both the operational and strategic level of decision-making

If you have the wrong strategy, you cannot possibly implement the correct operational decision-making or tactics and for years we have had the completely wrong strategy with regards to combating terrorist organizations because we lump them under one banner. "War on Terrorism" or "War on Terror" and we are using national organizations to fight INTERnational terrorism. This is ineffective.

Terrorist organizations are funny little characters. Each one is different! Each one has beef with SOMETHING. Most of the time you just have to read their mission statement and you can figure it out.

Even within the United States we have different strategic goals from our internal terrorist organizations. Some want to purify the white race. Some want to overthrow the government. We could look at the Patriot Militia's, i.e. the Order, Aryan Nation, MOM, etc. and we could also take a look at the Palestinian terrorist groups and find a plethora of mission statements, all with different strategies from which they base their operations and tactics.

But there are a few things in common that one can find with each and every organization that uses terrorism.

1. Terrorism is a "TACTIC" they employ based on the feeling that they cannot solve their current beef within conventional means

We need to start looking at each of these extremist organizations and study each of their strategies. If their strategic goal is feasible, i.e., the Tamil Tigers and most of the Palestinian organizations, then we should work on bringing them to the table, i.e. Fatah/PLO, Hezbollah, Hamas.

This would be exactly like what we have done in the past with the independence of America, Israel, Algeria, Armenia, Pakistan, Vietnam, etc. All of these countries are now independent because of "terrorist" campaigns and violent anti-colonial efforts by unconventional means. We need to recognize that some countries will need to break apart like Yugoslavia, Russia, Czechoslovakia, and maybe soon Sri Lanka. The US needs to lead the way on solving these issues because of our #2 reason which is...

2. They need to publicize their beef with VIOLENT, MASSIVE, INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION-GETTING ATTACKS!!!!

Because these organizations want to be paid attention to, they need to publicize their beef a la the Black September Group's 1972 Summer Olympic killings and Al Qaida's attacks on both 9/11 and 3/11. All were ways of gaining international attention for their cause and also fulfilling their strategic goal of filling their ranks.

THE MEDIA IS THE NEW BATTLEFIELD! So the media CANNOT be shy in labeling these organizations as organizations that use "terrorism" to further their cause.

The media is where these organizations are fighting these unconventional battles and this is where we need to meet them head on. We need to engage the media and make sure they are not just reporting sensationalism, but actually the long-term solutions that we come up with for each of these groups. We understand that a terrorist attack catches someone's attention immediately, we are enthralled and spellbound by these catastrophic attacks, but equal attention needs to be paid to the international community's solution to the problem. It is a moral obligation to the media to report the whole story.

The media plays right into the hands of terrorist organizations who want to use the media to spread propaganda for their cause. If the cause is a legit cause, i.e. anti-colonialism, then the media should have no moral problem broadcasting their messages, but if an organization's strategy involves the extermination or the mass killing of a certain sect, ethnicity, or nationality, the media should morally decline to legitimize their tactics by only showing half the story. They are only being used as part of an extremist strategy.

So, everyone needs a new strategy. The United States' strategy should be to create an international law enforcement agency with universal jurisdiction. We need an international organization that looks into groups that use terrorism as a tactic, works with them to find a solution, and if none are available, we need another arm of that international organization to monitor, infiltrate, undermine, arrest or kill members of these organizations and guess what?

It ain't the United States Military!

It needs to be an independent, international law enforcement agency that has the right to go into any country at anytime and find them. This international law enforcement agency cannot belong to any single country and needs to recruit from everywhere. It should answer to the UN and prosecute members of these organizations at the ICC. Domestic law enforcement agencies should turn over international terrorist members to this agency for handling and prosecution, i.e. all the detainees at Guantanamo.

We currently have INTERPOL which coordinates and acts as a resource for domestic law enforcement agencies, but it would need to have its power drastically expanded in order to reflect the current international threat of terrorism. It should have intelligence, diplomacy, and military assets including liaisons to media outlets in order to encourage equal reporting and explain to them that by only showing terrorist acts and not following up with international policy towards these organizations, they are essentially acting as the media arm of various terrorist organizations.

This would be the correct strategy. Instead of using all of OUR assets in intelligence, diplomacy, and military, i.e., the CIA, the State Department, and the military, we need to lead the way on creating an international law enforcement agency that has all 3 previous mentioned assets and give them leeway, power and support to fight against organizations that use terrorist tactics to include international criminal organizations.

9/11 was a wakeup call to the international community, especially us! Let's realize that we need a new strategy and force structure to fight and work with and against organizations willing to kill massive amounts of people in order to gain attention for their cause. The only way to effectively work against organizations that are so borderless and globalized is to create one with exactly the same fluidity.

With this new strategy, we could make operational and tactical decisions that would meet our goal.

To eradicate acts of terrorism.