[FoRK] Why We Are Losing The War on Terrorism

Contempt for Meatheads jbone at place.org
Mon May 3 14:18:36 PDT 2004


On May 3, 2004, at 4:08 PM, Paul Sholtz wrote:

> We're losing the "war" on terrorism b/c it's a horrible way to define 
> the scope of a conflict. Common nouns like "terrorism" (or drugs or 
> crime or poverty, for that matter) can't surrender and promise never 
> to attack again the way that proper nouns like Germany or Japan can.

While I actually tend to agree w/ that in principle, it misses Jrobb's 
whole point:  it's precisely because the notions of "war" in the 
conventional sense and "terrorism" in its generic, literal sense are 
incompatible that we're doomed to failure.  You can't wage war on 
terrorism --- you can only (a) seek to prevent particular incidents, 
(b) seek to disrupt the networks, and (c) eliminate the motivations for 
terrorists to wage asymmetric war in the long term.  Both (a) and (b) 
are ultimately losing battles, and (c) requires a broader 
macroeconomic, political, and diplomatic approach.  Otherwise, we're 
fighting hydras.

> How exactly would propose fixing the intelligence system? (so as to 
> win the war on terrorism)?

Not wanting to speak for John and his colleagues --- go read his blog 
and Global Guerillas and chase the links, it's truly fascinating stuff 
if you're into the topic, a very clueful network- and systems-centric 
view of the problem and possible ways to address it on various 
dimensions...  but one great start would be simply improving our 
acquisition capability by hiring more speakers of the languages in 
question.  A second start would be to reinvest in field intel.

We need ears in the madrassas, for example.

jb



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