It’s been described as the “terrorist’s dilemma”—the trade-offs between maintaining security and exercising command and control that terrorist organizations must make. But how can counterterrorism campaigns be designed to exploit that dilemma? What do government agencies and organizations charged with countering terrorist threats need to know about those pressures? And how should an understanding of the dilemma inform the development of counterterrorism policy?
To explore those questions, hosts Jeff Phaneuf and Adam Darnley-Stuart are joined by two guests with deep expertise on the subject. Dr. Jake Shapiro directs the Empirical Studies of Conflict Project at Princeton University and is the author of the book that forms the basis of this discussion, The Terrorist’s Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organizations. And retired Colonel Chris Costa is currently the executive director of the International Spy Museum and has decades of experience running and participating in intelligence and special operations around the world.
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From the announcement of this book by Princeton University Press:
"Employing a broad range of agency theory, historical case studies, and terrorists’ own internal documents, Jacob Shapiro provocatively discusses the core managerial challenges that terrorists face and illustrates how their political goals interact with the operational environment to push them to organize in particular ways."
As David Kilcullen and Robert Egnell describe below, (a) the political goals of today's insurgents (and related terrorists?), these seem to be to related to (b) maintaining a threatened (by the U.S./the West and our partners and allies) status quo and/or to restoring an already undermined and replaced (by the U.S./the West and our partners and allies) status quo anti:
“Politically, in many cases today, the counter-insurgent (the U.S./the West and its partner governments) represents revolutionary change, while the insurgent fights to preserve the status quo of ungoverned spaces, or to repel an occupier – a political relationship opposite to that envisaged in classical counter-insurgency. Pakistan’s campaign in Waziristan since 2003 exemplifies this. The enemy includes al-Qaeda-linked extremists and Taliban, but also local tribesmen fighting to preserve their traditional culture against twenty-first-century encroachment. The problem of weaning these fighters away from extremist sponsors, while simultaneously supporting modernisation, does somewhat resemble pacification in traditional counter-insurgency. But it also echoes colonial campaigns, and includes entirely new elements arising from the effects of globalisation.” (Item in parenthesis above is mine. See David Kilcullen’s “Counterinsurgency Redux.”)
“Dhofar, El Savador and the Philippines are all campaigns driven by fundamentally conservative concerns. When we are looking to Syria right now, (however,) it is not just about maintaining order or even the regime, but about larger political change. In Afghanistan and Iraq too, we represented revolutionary change. So, perhaps we should read Mao and Che Guevara instead of Thompson in order to find the appropriate lessons of how to achieve large-scale societal change through limited means? That is what we are after, in the end. And in this coming era, where we are pivoting away from large-scale interventions and state-building projects, but not from our fairly grand political ambitions, it may be worth exploring how insurgents do more with little; how they approach irregular warfare, and reach their objectives indirectly.” (Item in parenthesis above is mine. See the Small Wars Journal article “Learning From Today’s Crisis of Counterinsurgency” — an interview by Octavian Manea of Dr. David H. Ucko and Dr. Robert Egnell.)
Question — Based on the Above:
Are the political goals addressed by David Kilcullen and Robert Egnell above, are these such political goals presented and discussed — in the manner they are described by Kilcullen and Egnell above — in this new book "The Terrorist's Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organizations" by Jacob N. Shapiro?
If so, then does this such feature of "attempting to maintain a threatened status quo" and/or "attempting to restore an already undermined and replaced status quo anti" effect — and/or contribute to — the "terrorists dilemma?"
My question above possibly stated another way:
As Kilcullen and Egnell above note, the "political goals" of various insurgent and terrorist groups, this is to:
a. Maintain a threatened (by the U.S./the West and our partners and allies) local way of life, local way of governance, local values, etc., and/or to:
b. Restore an already undermined and replaced (by the U.S./the West and our partners and allies) such local way of life, etc.
1. This being the case re: many insurgents and terrorists groups' "political goals" today,
2. Does these such "political goals" create security vulnerabilities that local governments — working with the U.S./the West to achieve and/or maintain revolutionary political, economic, social and/or value change more along modern western lines — can exploit?
The "achieve revolutionary change more along modern western lines" "political goal" of the U.S./the West — and our partners and allies — these CERTAINLY create security vulnerabilities that the insurgents and terrorists groups can exploit. Yes?)