Counterinsurgency vs. Counterterrorism in the US
As stated earlier, counterinsurgency measures could find proper use against actors whose aim is to destabilize currently existing political systems. Its use is proper against groups who are ready to engage in dialogue with legitimate authorities. In the case of US, the ongoing GWOT might seem as a distraction to possible negotiations between the government and the insurgents involved. Yet, the GWOT, apart from its conventional kill-capture strategy, also discourages the use of terrorist strategies among possible practitioners within insurgent groups. In that case, the US government could still handle counterinsurgency strategies alongside actions pertinent to the GWOT. The GWOT would not altogether stimulate terrorist-insurgents towards aggression. By using the proper strategies crafted based on the situation, GWOT efforts could actually benefit the US in terms of practicing counterinsurgency techniques (Sitaraman, 2009; Davidson, 2009).
The GWOT spurred by 9/11 renders a proper use of counterinsurgency measures. While the focus highlighted in the situation is the need to prevent terrorist attacks from happening, the fact that the Islamist proponents have expressed steadfastness in defying US authorities call for counterinsurgency. In this case, it is noteworthy to identify Islamist groups as insurgents whose main medium for extracting demands is terrorism. GWOT efforts, necessary for maintaining security, would not distract counterinsurgency measures if US authorities seek proper avenues for negotiation. In that way, the US could agree with insurgents on possible solutions to the problems at hand without compromising security. Through that, there would be a greater chance of curtailing terrorism-related incidents and lesser tensions among those who are alienated from the status quo (Sitaraman, 2009).
The Al-Qaeda group stood as the main architect of 9/11- the tragedy that led to the GWOT. Its affiliation with other terrorist groups have made the situation more complicated, as it strengthened the position of insurgents and their greater tendency to cause security threats through terrorist attacks (Sitaraman, 2009).Other groups such as the Hezbollah and Hamas followed the same path of insurgency of Al-Qaeda and other leading groups. Yet unlike the Hamas, the Hezbollah has not established concrete linkages with the 9/11 proponents and has consistently denied such allegations, as supported through lack of evidence (Byman, 2007)
There are several counterterrorist strategies applicable for fighting the Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas. Firstly, unilateral and multilateral measures of destabilization could prove effective to those groups. Such could weaken the linkages of Al-Qaeda with other terrorist cells while smaller groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas could see their international networks wane. Containment is another viable option for the US in dealing with those groups, being a strategy it has employed since the Cold War era. Through that, states under its containment network could investigate the extent of proliferation of those groups. Maintaining defense against those groups is important and possible through military presence in areas where they allegedly operate. Diversion is important to check on those groups, as it would not entail the US to attack them directly as it gains progress from other efforts. Lastly, removing terrorist groups of legitimacy and transforming their places of proliferation are two ambitious counterterrorist strategies the US could undertake, subject to the nature of the groups (Byman, 2007).
In using the preceding strategies, it is essential to take note of the nature of each terrorist group in focus. The phenomenon of terrorism enables each of those groups to collaborate with one another, regardless if they deny their linkages with one another. Ascertaining the specific characteristics of each group is crucial for coming up with solutions, as each have distinctive organizational frameworks that could render the failure of counterterrorist strategies when not recognized properly (Byman, 2007).
Counterterrorism strategies involve a combination of human and technological applications. Terrorism, in itself, is borne out of the proliferation of advance technologies in the free market. The availability of weapons, tools, computer software and other potential tools for terrorist attacks are all enhanced through the development of technology, yet the human factor therein remains strong as counterterrorism itself is highly tactical (Sitaraman, 2009).
Processes that are depended on human applications include those under the ambit of collecting intelligence reports. The strategic nature of counterterrorist strategies calls for a heavy application of rational decision-making – one that could only transpire from humans. Engaging in network building between states, as in the case of containment, reflects a strong human factor. Persuasiveness in diplomacy and emphasis on the global nature of terrorism could work well only through human actions. The automated nature of technological applications limits those to an assistive role to human applications (Sitaraman, 2009; Byman, 2007).
Technological applications in counterterrorism measures could enhance the campaign in the realm of conducting conventional warfare and information dissemination. Usage of weapons is perhaps the most apparent manifestation of technology in curtailing terrorist attacks, as those could fulfill the kill-capture approach and other related strategies. Information dissemination could be done efficiently in the form of computer hardware and software, media devices and other visible approaches. Similarly, those tools could viably assist efforts in intelligence report collection through the provision of databases accessible to concerned state officials. Those tools could make more processes streamlined and efficient (Sitaraman, 2009; Byman, 2007).
Human applications in intelligence and counterterrorism efforts are highly important and thus may not be absent. Decision-making matters make up a large bulk of those efforts and technological innovations are limited in those aspects to the extent that those produce calculated and mechanistic results. Thus, those could not easily resolve new problems that may rise. The innovative human mind is the only one that could resolve such issues in the most effective manner (Sitaraman, 2009).
Byman, D. (2007). US counter-terrorism options: A taxonomy. Virginia Law Review, 49(3), 121-150.
Sitaraman, G. (2009). Counterinsurgency, the war on terror, and the laws of war. Virginia Law Review, 95, 1745-1839.