Report: How Terrorist Groups End

Added on by PS Cat02.

One of the sources of information we like to read are the reports and documents that military strategists and governmental policy makers read in order to form their opinions about stuff. By studying (some of) what they're studying, I think it's easier to understand why the United States does what it does, what it might be doing next, and so on.

Recently the RAND Corporation released a report, partially funded by Department of Defense monies, titled How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering al Qaida. It's part historical narrative, part political and military analysis, and 100% fascinating. Here's a few excerpts from the report summary from the RAND website:

"All terrorist groups eventually end. But how do they end? Answers to this question have enormous implications for counterterrorism efforts. The evidence since 1968 indicates that most groups have ended because (1) they joined the political process or (2) local police and intelligence agencies arrested or killed key members. Military force has rarely been the primary reason for the end of terrorist groups...
Following an examination of 648 terrorist groups that existed between 1968 and 2006, we found that a transition to the political process is the most common way in which terrorist groups ended (43 percent)... 10 percent of the cases, terrorist groups ended because their goals were achieved, and military force led to the end of terrorist groups in 7 percent of the cases... Against most terrorist groups, however, military force is usually too blunt an instrument...
After September 11, 2001, the U.S. strategy against al Qa'ida centered on the use of military force. Indeed, U.S. policymakers and key national-security documents referred to operations against al Qa'ida as the war on terrorism...
Our analysis suggests that there is no battlefield solution to terrorism. Military force usually has the opposite effect from what is intended: It is often over-used, alienates the local population by its heavy-handed nature, and provides a window of opportunity for terrorist-group recruitment..."
[ download the entire report here (3.1 MB) ]

Although the report is written from an imperialist/militarist perspective, it does provide several useful explanations as to why the U.S.-led "War on Terror" hasn't resulted in the dissolution of al-Qaeda so far, and based on an analysis of recent terrorism history, also predicts that continuing our so-called 'war' will not produce this result - ever. The report makes a bunch of recommendations as to how the U.S. could 'fix the problem' and eventually bring al-Qaeda under control, but reading the report the main question that kept popping into my head was whether or not it's really in the best interests of the U.S. leadership to dismantle al-Qaeda in the first place. Because if al-Qaeda were to disappear from the public imagination, I'm sure creating a new justification for our own brand of state violence and terrorism would require a tremendous amount of hard work. And since the ruling elite profit so immensely from warring, without significant opposition from the American people I'm willing to guess that all other alternatives are fairly unlikely at this point.

Anyway, please read the report, or at least the summary. It's useful to see how at least one sector of the U.S. warring apparatus is thinking and talking about these issues.

Take care,