Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Are we Losing the Global War on Terror?

As we appear to be making up for the mistakes of 2011 and on that gave rise to the Islamic State with the retaking of Mosul and to investment of Raqqa, there is some hope for optimism for the Long War.

There is even more reason for quiet reflection once you back away and get the full view. Over a decade and a half in to this war, do we understand our enemy?

Along those lines, I highly recommend the detailed prospective provided by Katherine Zimmerman over at AEI with her extensive work; America's Real Enemy: The Salafi-Jihadi Movement.

From the Intro:
America is losing the war on terror, yet many Americans think the United States is winning. The fact that there has been no attack on American soil on the scale of 9/11 has created a false sense of security. Dismissals of Orlando and San Bernardino as “lone-wolf” attacks further the inaccurate narrative that al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) are somehow “on the run.” According to senior American officials for at least seven years, those groups have been “on the run”—a “fact” that in itself demonstrates the falsity of US pretentions to success. Tactical successes on battlefields in Iraq, Syria, and Libya add further to the illusion of success. But if 16 years of war should have taught us anything, it is that we cannot kill our way out of this problem.

To start winning, Americans must redefine the enemy. A global movement—not individual groups, not an ideology, and certainly not poverty—is waging war against us.
Europe and the American homeland face an unprecedented level of facilitated and inspired terrorist attacks. This situation is not success, stalemate, or slow winning, and still less does it reflect an enemy “on the run.” It is failure.
I don't think you will find comfort here, as how she finds the source of the problem leads us to a place where I am not sure we have the ability to "win" anything.
The way to begin winning is to focus where the enemy focuses. The Salafi-jihadi movement is fighting for popular support. The US must, too. The Salafi-jihadi base delivers protection, stability, and assistance to a threatened and aggrieved population. The US and its partners instead bring guns to a governance fight. They focus on killing off segments of the Salafi-jihadi base, some of which are the very forces on which the population relies. Even where the focus is on returning governance, the American bias has been to rely on potential strongmen who promise stability. Stability—synonymous with authoritarianism here—drove the very grievances that enabled the Salafi-jihadi base to expand in the first instance. The stability that President Abdel Fatah el Sisi brings to Egypt, where terrorist attacks are now on the rise, is an example of the hollowness of this promise.
If that is true, all the USA and the West can do is deal with symptoms - ie "mow the grass."

There is neither the national will or leadership to try to dig it up and replant with something more manageable. That simply cannot be done in the modern world. As such, the solution ultimately is in the Islamic world itself. We have limited ability to do anything there.

So, what do we do? Deal with the symptoms and do the best to contain Salafi-jihadi supporters where they are. Help those who help us.

Mow; contain; help friends.

As we've discussed for years here; this is a generational war that will outlive all who are reading this post in 2017.

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