July 30, 2008 3:00:03 PM
Courtesy Of Wired.com
Many people have said it, but now a respected think tank has put its imprimatur on it: the "global war on terror" is a misguided concept. A major new RAND study look at how terrorist groups have historically ended, concludes that in most cases, political accommodation and infiltration -- not brute force -- broke up the groups. Of course, RAND also notes that political accommodation works when the terrorists' goals are narrow (i.e. RAND is not recommending political accommodation with Al Qaeda, which has far-reaching goals).
By analyzing a comprehensive roster of terrorist groups that existed worldwide between 1968 and 2006, the authors found that most groups ended because of operations carried out by local police or intelligence agencies or because they negotiated a settlement with their governments. Military force was rarely the primary reason a terrorist group ended, and few groups within this time frame achieved victory."Al Qa'ida," notes RAND, "consists of a network of individuals who need to be tracked and arrested." Rather than blunt military force, RAND suggests that the focus should be on the "Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as their cooperation with foreign police and intelligence agencies."
In the end, policing and intelligence, not military power, should be the focus of counterterrorism, RAND concludes.