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Old 16 September 2007, 13:04
Linear Linear is offline
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The Myth of the Invincible Terrorist

"The Myth of the Invincible Terrorist" by Christopher Harmon is from the Hoover Institute Policy Digest. It was summarized in July in SOPD. It reviews successes in historical anti-terror campaigns, emphasizes that terrorist are living men with specific aims, and suggests how current anti-terrorism policy can draw lessons from the past. Available at Author teaches at Marine Corps University.

Any comments or cautions relative to this article?
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Old 18 September 2007, 16:16
Vincent Vincent is offline
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Interesting article, but I was a little dissappointed. Right off the bat, I thought that the author engaged in more than an acceptable level of generalization for this type of article.

Right in the first paragraph, I thought that lumping Abu Nidal in with the PKK and SP was a little strange. Some very strong differences, that i thought made the comparison a bit on the weak side, and I disagree strongly with the "decapitation" strategy with regard to dealing with the Al Qaeda model, which the author does slightly acknowlege.

One powerful point I thought was when he mentioned the "fatigue" factor, how over the long haul, attitudes change. Ithink this is most applicable to terrorists who reside in the US. I think the fatigue factor combined with living in the US would have a serious deteriorating effect on morale and motivation.

In that same section, the author talks about the synergistic value of turning terrorists. I have always beleived that this strategy is what will ultimately cuase us to prevail in the WOT. A very aggressive I/O strategy. After all, it wasn't bombs that beat the Soviets, but Levi's and Coke. A similar, although obviously differently targetted message would work.

I think he took a political cheap shot with his "relativism" paragraph, primarily because he brought it up and didn't seem to make much of a point with it.

His points on technology, I think are pretty far off the mark. He seems to laud American conventional military strength, which in an article on fighting terrorism is a bit strange. Furthermore, I think technology has evolved - at least at the consumer level - as a benefit to terrorist organizations and the flatened structure he described earlier on.

His stuff on the insurgency in Iraq is just wincingly over-simplistic and he completely misses the point. Additionally, for an article that is primarily directed against al Qaeda, I found his knowledge on Islam and Islamic mlitancy severely lacking. Furthermore, how does one write about defeating Islamic militancy without a single mention of Israel/HAMAS or Hezbollah? Or even Iran?

I think he set out to write an article that gives assurance that terrorists are just like us and can be killed just like us, but I don't think that the points he make carry as much assurance as he attemps.
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. -C.S. Lewis
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