26 DECEMBER 2011 - Guest Writer Treston Wheat
There are many similarities among the different types of sub-state violence, which has led some to erroneously equate all of them. Fundamental differences exist between an insurgency and terrorism and other forms of violence. When people try to equate sub-state violence no matter its source, they strip their analysis of any meaning. This is ultimately like saying that premeditated murder is the same act as vehicular homicide and that these are the same as self-defense. It denudes any actual thought concerning the nature of force by saying they are identical. Although insurgency and terrorism are both politically motivated violence, they have different strategic choices and organizational structures that demonstrate how they are different political phenomena.
The most fundamental difference between insurgency and terrorism can be found in the definitions of the words. The definition of terrorism is politically motivated violence or the threat of violence against non-combatants by sub-state actors ; the definition of insurgency, on the other hand, is a “struggle between a nonruling group and the ruling authorities in which the nonruling group uses political resources and violence” and is a “protracted political-military activity” that uses irregular military forces. Long term objectives can appear similar between insurgents and terrorists, like al-Qaeda and the Taliban wanting Shariah law implemented in states. Yet, it is the second-tier and short term objectives of insurgents and terrorists that separate them. One must separate the teleological objectives from the immediate objectives of organizations. Terrorism’s objectives are, according to Louise Richardson, revenge, renown, and reaction. Take for instance the suicide bombings in London in 2005; the four attackers did not believe theirs actions would lead to the establishment of the Caliphate. Rather, they wanted to seek revenge for Britain’s action in the Middle East and the country’s support for the war there. Terrorists measure the success of their attacks by how much attention it receives. In addition, they received the renown they wanted. The terrorists sidelined the G-8 summit and became famous across the world. Although they did not achieve the reaction they wanted, i.e. retaliation to increase hatred of the West, a reaction was part of their immediate objectives. Finally, terrorists plan for their attacks to “have far-reaching psychological effects beyond the immediate victim(s) or object of the terrorist attack.” Terrorism wants to spread terror amongst the population. The terrorist’s objective is therefore more about scaring civil society and making themselves known.
Insurgents differ from terrorists by their own immediate objectives, which are military by nature rather than media or revenge prone. An insurgent’s tactics will look to wear the enemy down through constant attacks against the regular forces while acquiring weapons and support from the disenfranchised population. Eventually, the insurgency tries to establish its own regular forces and fight the opposing government on equal footing. Furthermore, the insurgency wishes to give public services to the public while diminishing the government’s ability to do so. Hezbollah does this consistently by offering access to water and schooling in Lebanon when the government is not able to do so. Also, insurgents want to mitigate international support for the opposition by increasing their legitimacy in the eyes of other states. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority have gained international support and even acquired representation in international organizations like the UN. Yet, they try to undermine Israel by constantly pointing towards supposed human rights abuses and other maladies. Insurgents’ immediate goals are specific military aims while terrorists try to create attention with their acts for political causes.
Strategic choices and targets by insurgents and terrorists also demonstrate how they differ from each other. The terrorist by definition attacks non-combatants; the insurgent attacks combatants. Some forms of violence have legitimacy and some have illegitimacy. The target of force determines whether or not the act is right, legitimate, or wrong, illegitimate. A quick survey of terrorist attacks shows that their ultimate targets are non-combatants rather than those that fight on the battlefield. Al-Qaeda chose to target the World Trade Centers as a way to assault people for specifically being American, not because they were soldiers on the battlefield. Hamas suicide bombers go on buses full of Israeli civilians to attack the population rather than going after members of the IDF. Aum Shinrikyo pumped sarin nerve gas in the Tokyo subway to hurt ordinary Japanese instead of attacking the military. The Red Brigade in Europe kidnapped and killed specific members of the government, not soldiers in the Italian military. In each of these cases the terrorist organization’s target was a non-combatant to draw attention to their cause because they were symbolic of their problem with the current order.
Contrast this with the insurgent that attacks the soldier on the battlefield and goes after military targets. The insurgency in Cuba that put Fidel Castro into power and Mao Zedong’s campaign against the Japanese give examples as to how these are military operations against regular forces. The point of an insurgency is to eventually gain enough strength to have a regular army strong enough to conquer the ruling authority’s regular army. This is why insurgencies use guerilla warfare and enact a protracted war. They must maintain enough time to gain the strength to fight the government. Batista’s government failed before Castro could create a standing army, but Castro attacked military strongholds and soldiers. Some might point out that insurgents generally only deal with the military, both domestic and foreign, and that is why they do not target civilians. The primary difference is that insurgents’ primary target are combatants as part of their overall strategic initiative. They cannot gain recruits if they continually assault the population they supposedly want to protect from the ruling authority. As mentioned before, one of the immediate objectives is to gain support and membership from the local population. In contrast, a terrorist has an audience and tries to bring attention to their cause and can indiscriminately attack the population. These two forms of violence have different targets because of their different objectives. Insurgents want to take control of the area and control the population; the terrorist wants revenge, renown, and a reaction to her action.
One of the difficulties with this analysis is that people have to determine the difference between a combatant and a non-combatant. The quintessential difference is that a combatant operates on the battlefield with an established uniform and weapon according to international standards. An example that seems to blur the line between combatant and non-combatant is Nidal Malik Hassan who attacked soldiers at Fort Hood. He must be considered a terrorist because the soldiers he attacked were not on the battlefield. Also, his immediate objectives follow that of a terrorist rather than an insurgent. Hassan supposedly believed that the “War on Terror” was a war against Islam and believed Muslims should not be in the military. His motivations appeared to follow revenge for America’s actions in the Middle East. He was not trying to gain followers to fight the military on equal ground. This case shows it is possible to determine whether violence is by an insurgent or a terrorist based on their targets and objectives.
Besides the targets and objectives of an organization, the organizational structure differentiates terrorists and insurgents. Terrorists operate either in cells or as individuals. There are a plethora of examples of individuals acting as “lone wolfs:” Eric Rudolph, Scott Roeder, Timothy McVeigh, Anders Behring Breivik, et al. More often, though, terrorists operate in cells. This is a more modern phenomenon, where in the past terrorists had a hierarchical structure. Terrorist organizations now employ “leaderless networks.” The Earth Liberation Front employed this strategy where they had several cells throughout the country that had no “chain of command” and are merely connected by their radical environmentalism. In comparison, an insurgent organization mirrors itself to a military. Mao Zedong envisioned a clear hierarchy and military structure. He believed that an insurgency need military commanders, political commissioners, officers, headquarters, chief of staffs, and divisions based on areas. There is a clear military structure, but the insurgent differs from a regular army by having mobile forces that can move agilely across the country and attack points of weakness. Terrorists operate in cells and as individuals; insurgents have to operate as a paramilitary organization with specific people in command so that they can achieve success.
Because of the difference between terrorism and insurgency the response by governments, counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency, have to be different. Although Bard O’Neill writes that all forms of sub-state violence are types of insurgency, even he explicates the need for divergent responses to dissimilar forms of violence. What he named conspiratorial and urban-warfare is synonymous to terrorism. The proper response for this kind of violence is intelligence gathering and police work rather than military operations. He offers the examples of Northern Ireland and Italy where terrorism decreased after the governments increased disciplined police forces. However, military force is not out of the question. Special operations against terrorists residing in other countries can help eliminate the organizations, as Israel has done several times. When a country engages an insurgency, the state must necessarily use alternate tactics. America could not have just used intelligence and police forces to bring down the Taliban government and fight the subsequent insurgency that occurred. The US had to send thousands of troops along with NATO to successfully fight off the Taliban led insurgents. Because of the varying nature of sub-state violence, understanding that terrorism and insurgency differ allows for governments to develop proper strategy to combat them.
Analysts need to differentiate between insurgents and terrorism because proper analysis leads to successful counterattacks. If one assumes that an insurgent is a terrorist, then they may try to arrest the offender rather than stop what will become a protracted conflict. If one assumes that a terrorist is an insurgent, then they may use military operations where simple intelligence gathering and police work would suffice. However, if one accurately assesses the situation, then the government can develop and implement an appropriate strategy for eliminating the sub-state actor. Governments that fail to understand the difference will implement incorrect tactics and fail to neutralize the threats to their country.
By Guest Writer John Entingh
This paper initiates discourse on mass-mediated terrorism literacy at its most basic level. Terror groups use wanton acts of violence to create a culture of fear in an attempt to gain mind control. The media then usurps the control and perpetuates the culture of fear for its own ends. More often than not, government entities manipulate the media’s control through a controlled release of information. Because terrorism is a very real danger to all, and new forms of media are vying for control, people need to have the ability to understand where the true threat actually lies. The core principle is that humans have a tendency to become desensitized by over-stimulation. Consistently perpetuating a culture of fear will inevitably desensitize human awareness to very real dangers. The most practical method for avoiding desensitization is through literacy of a mass-mediated culture of fear. In addition, by cultivating a culture of fear, the general public is distracted from asking critical questions on agenda setting. Without asking critical questions, agendas lack any sense of objectivity on all fronts. This brief introduction is not intended to be a comprehensive media-literacy course, only to initiate discourse on a growing phenomenon of the Fourth Estate and hopefully to encourage literacy of such. The general public has only one defense against cultivation, mind control, and the culture of fear, and that is Fourth Estate literacy.
A Guest Article by Nicolaas Vergunst, author of Knot of Stone: the day that changed South Africa’s history
08 December 2011
In a world without end, spinning endlessly in space, is there such a thing as an East or a West? And if so, where does the one end and the other begin?
Is it between the Euphrates and Tigris, legendary home of the Garden of Eden and so-called Cradle of Civilisation? Well, the word Mesopotamia means “between rivers” and fits, scholars assert, the biblical description of Paradise. However, humans are now believed to have originated in Africa before dispersing, much later, into Eurasia via the Rift Valley corridor. Despite this, the Fertile Crescent remains an accepted home for the birth of our first cities. It is from here, modern Iraq, that civilizations appear to have spread both east- and westwards.
Unlike the narrow Rift Valley gorge, Eurasia’s own plains and open plateaus provided a favourable passage for migrating clans and their herds. So then, was it on the Russian steppe or in the deserts of Iran that sweeping hordes and conquering armies first crossed from East to West? And if so, was it a steppe or a desert that separated the lands of the rising sun from the place where the sun set?
Or did East and West meet on the Bosphorus where different cultures have bumped into each other over the millennia? Here the city of Byzantium-Constantinople-Istanbul saw Greeks, Romans, Latins and Turks step across the great divide. Or is it in Jerusalem where Jews, Christians and Muslims have rubbed shoulders for several centuries? Jerusalem was, after all, the conceptual centre of the world. Or was it perhaps Berlin where, only decades ago, capitalists and soviets faced each other across the wall? During the Cold War era, c.1946–1991, the wall symbolically divided East from West, separating what had once grown and belonged together.
Is it actually a river, a mountain or a wall, at all? Is it a crossroad, trade route or military frontier? Or a set of borders, like the state lines dividing Eastern America from the American West?
Or could it be out to sea, perhaps, somewhere in the Atlantic? Historically, the Pope divided the earth in two, pole to pole, along an imaginary line in the mid-Atlantic, giving Spain one half of the world and Portugal the rest. Excluding Europe, of course. On that day, 7 June 1494, the Western territories included a still unknown America and the East of Africa—though its full extent still had to be discovered.
That was then, but what about today? Perhaps it is the Greenwich prime meridian that now determines where we are? Well, yes, it is around zero degrees longitude that we orientate ourselves spatially and relativise our time on an East-West basis, isn’t it? But this puts Europe on the East with Africa too?
For now the question is not where but when did East and West meet? It’s a question that always vexes me because, as a westerner, I can’t step outside my own shoes. Questions of relativity require both feet on the ground and, simultaneously, a head above the rest. Nevertheless, the question does force us to rethink our histories.
The East-West line has clearly shifted position over time and, from a Western perspective, reflects the ebb and flow of Europe’s overseas expansion. For instance, during the Age of Exploration c.1400–1600, the southern tip of Africa became the new threshold between an ancient East and a modern West. The Cape of Good Hope was the southernmost Portal to the Indies and one of the most dangerous then known to man. Ironically, it is known as the Fairest Cape today.
Towering above modern Cape Town, Table Mountain was then seen to personify the character of a Stormy Cape. The mountain was a wild and vindictive giant called Adamastor, a tormented figure derived from Greek mythology. Like the Titans, Adamastor dashed all hopes of passing mortals. The Cape was his forbidden portal, a threshold between the Atlantic and Indian oceans, beyond which neither ship nor sail should pass.
The long voyage East, amid raging storms and inner temptations, symbolized a journey of spiritual enlightenment. It was a concept that possessed Prince Henry and the explorers of Atlantic-Africa, a concept that also transformed the ‘Discoveries’ into a quest for individual spiritual enlightenment. Portugal’s exploration from West Africa to East Africa, from the shores of the Atlantic to the Indian seaboard, was thus more than a mere adventure in maritime geography. And so in 1488 a weatherworn Bartolomeu Dias first crossed this great divide, unknowingly, after being driven out to sea by a raging storm.
A decade later, on his historic outbound voyage to India in 1497, Vasco da Gama too clashed with Adamastor off the Cape. Their confrontation came to symbolise the conflict between modern man and the classical gods. For the poet laureate of Portugal, Luís de Camões, the clash symbolised mankind’s inevitable triumph over the gods, a triumph of the Renaissance over the Medieval, of humanism over dogmatism.
Table Mountain has also been likened to the double-headed god Janus of Roman mythology. With one face looking forward and the other back, Janus was the renowned Gatekeeper. He looks ahead and behind, seeing the future while knowing the past. Table Mountain thus became the “Watcher of the South”, guarding the Atlantic and Indian oceans while protecting those travelling between East and West, old and new, warm and cold, good and evil. Or so it was until 1869, when the Suez Canal opened.
Before the Canal, the Cape of Good Hope had offered the most direct sea passage to the Indies. Like the once impassable Pillars of Hercules, Table Mountain helped reproduce a concept of an intermediary Africa. With a northern and southern portal at Gibraltar and the Cape, respectively, Africa mediated between a fabulous East and a robust West. To this end the Portuguese also tried reaching the other side of Africa via the Congo River. But malaria thwarted their efforts (as it did during the building of the Panama Canal in the 1880s and 1900s). Be that as it may, East was not to be found by transversing the continent. A fact White explorers would only discover for themselves centuries later.
Traversing a continent along its East-West axis is not new, of course. Earliest long-distance migrations followed the same pattern, moving within the same climatic zone. Moving laterally allowed caravans and armies to harness the same pack animals, gather the same food and, so far as possible, avoid new diseases. To the North lay ice and bitter cold, to the South sand and scorching heat. For contemporary geographers, the world was elliptical. Their maps show distances between East-West and North-South on a ratio of 5:3. A true Golden Mean?
The main East-West route ran from the Chinese capital of Chang’an, Xian today, via the Himalayan valleys and Afghan passes, and then across the Arabian Desert to the port-cities of the eastern Mediterranean. Exchange along this line of oases, once known as the Khurasan or “Old Silk Road”, prepared the ground for varied beliefs; blending cultures and promoting religious tolerance. All the great conquerors of Eurasia—Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane—used this route while criss-crossing the continent.
The expanding Muslim empires had an East-West axis too and a formidable array of Ottoman, Mamluk and Zamorin fleets that controlled the main trade routes from the Strait of Malacca to the Strait of Gibraltar. Their oceanic network had evolved as an alternative to the heavily taxed and bandit-ridden land routes across the Eurasian continent.
By 1500 the centre of this vast commercial network was the Middle East and not the Mediterranean. Europe was of limited value, Portugal merely peripheral. The West had no raw materials or manufactured goods to offer India, China or Japan—except imported gold and silver. And without Africa’s gold there would have been no grand sea-trade in the sixteenth century and, subsequently, no modern world economy.
Perched on Europe’s most south-westerly corner, Portugal was ideally positioned for its westward expansion. Pre-empting the discoveries of the 15th century, ancient Phoenicia had faced west too. Likewise, the powers that would succeed Portugal—Holland and England—also faced the Atlantic. But it was not the open sea that gave them the advantage, it was the prevailing Westerlies that blew at their backs. As a result the world opened up toward the West. In short, it was the East that first discovered the West and not the other way around. But this history is best told another day.
Perhaps when or where the two meet is not as important as why we need both to make us feel whole? For now I’m sure of only one thing, we orientate ourselves by facing three directions: the rising sun, the open sea and the way forward. This is the result of ceremonial, conceptual and navigational necessity. Seen from outer space, of course, our planet has neither a top nor a bottom, nor a left half or a right side. And, thankfully, it doesn’t matter what shoes you wear.
A Featured Essay for the Autumn 2011 Quarterly Release
by Nadja Panchenko (Leipzig, Germany)
Edited by Director Matthew Bishop
Recent scholars have coined terms such as "soft" power, "hard" power, "sticky" power, "sweet" power, and "smart" power. This essay analyzes these categorical descriptions of foreign policy power and suggests that "smart" power lays at the intersection of these categories. Smart power, the essay asserts, is the sort of power which the United States should most often seek to employ-- but it must do so within the framework of multilateral and multinational actions and with approval from the international community, a framework that the current president is very much adhering to.
Nadja is an undergraduate student from Russia who has studied in both Germany and the United States. She works with nuclear energy and environmental policy and with American foreign policy.
A Featured Essay for the Autumn 2011 Quarterly Release
by Director Matthew Bishop (Ohio, U.S.A.) and Far East Asia Regional Director Baron Laudermilk (Beijing, China)
Edited by Director Matthew Bishop
The 2012 Foreign Policy Action Plan covers grand strategy and particular policy suggestions for Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, and also engages ideas for reforming global governing, judicial, and economic institutions.
Matthew Bishop is the Founder and Director of World Report: The Student Journal for International Affairs, Managing Editor for this release and the chief author of this document. His concentration is in the rhetoric of social and political change. Baron Laudermilk is the Far East Regional Director and Chief Secretary of the journal and a regular staff researcher and writer. His focus is in Chinese government and economy.
A Featured Essay for the Autumn 2011 Quarterly Release
by Nick McIntosh (Ohio, U.S.A.)
Edited by Director Matthew Bishop
NATO, despite the end of the Cold War and dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, has soldiered on into the 2010’s. Though many attempts have been made to understand its continuation, few have incorporated the lessons learned from America’s behavior prior to the Iraq War to properly understand the U.S. and its interest in keeping such an organization alive. Drawing from Ian Hurd’s "After Anarchy", I propose a mutually beneficial model for both the hegemon and Europe that functions off of a legitimacy filtration relationship. By using NATO as a multilateral international community, the U.S. is able to administer its foreign policy through the community to give the illusion that actions taken by NATO are beneficial to all member nations and the global community. In return, European members are able to free-ride on the hegemon’s military expenditures without having to build a defense on their own dime. I further conclude that such a model, though accurate as it stands now, is not stable. If NATO is to remain a viable institution, America must cede at least some of its predominance in decisionmaking to maintain the organization’s legitimacy output. Further, Europe must build its own defenses rather than remaining a protectorate of the hegemon.
Nick McIntosh is a political science and philosophy double-major undergraduate at Ohio University with an academic focus in Law, Justice, and Political Thought.