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Monday, March 30, 2015

Deterring Non State Actors



The ISIS guys are here in Malaysia. The latest news is a death threat they made against an Indian swami Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who visited Penang recently. 

How do we deal with internationally linked non State actors like Al Qaeda, ISIS, JI and so on?

This is adapted from another source. It is controversial but bear in mind that we are dealing with non conventional terror which does not fit into the regular rule books. They have no rules.

Can non-state or semi-state terrorist enemies be effectively deterred? This question is at the heart of a debate inside security and defense establishments.

The concept of deterrence plays a key role in defining how to fight non state actors.  

The entire Arab and Muslim world is filled with extremist, heavily armed semi-state entities that are heavily armed. They maintain hierarchical, highly trained hybrid guerrilla-terrorist armies.

Meanwhile, radical Sunni and Shi’ite players are rising up in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Pakistan, Indonesia, South Thailand, southern Philippines and other places.

When you analyze the fundamental interests of semi-state terror organizations like Al Qaeda or ISIS, these are not like the interests of normal governments, which seek their people’s welfare. 

The non State actors like ISIS and Al Qaeda care only for their own physical survival. Hence, to deter them from carrying out attacks, legitimate States have to make it clear they are prepared to target their leadership, their senior command levels and to systematically eliminate their military capabilities.

'Make it clear to them that if violence erupts, their leaders will have to  pay some price.

Non state actors always claim to fight for some cause. But at the same time, when the test comes, all of that will fall by the wayside, and they will be left with one thing only : survivability, especially the personal survivability of their leadership.

So to deal with the leaders of non State actors, if you do not threaten their own personal survival, they will have no fear and no restraint. 

It is no use if you bomb their country because they do not fight for a country.  

It is no use if you bomb their people because they do not fight for their own people.

They fight for some imaginary beliefs inside their heads.

When the personal survival of their leaders are not under threat, their leaders are no more concerned with how many casualties their organisation sustains. Their only aim is to reach their imaginary or delusional goals.

So when the personal survival of their leaders are not at stake, the longer will be the duration of the conflict.

Their leadership is never worried that the State will carry out attacks or operations that are scathing in scope. The leadership prepares for the long haul. Their leaders will simply exploit their recruits to die for them.

Military actions will not feature very highly as a conflict-ending factor.

Seeking to ascertain the intentions of semi-state enemies is a mammoth task. 

Destroying their military assets does not necessarily mean an end to them.

Non State actors have to understand that the personal survival of their senior leaders is under threat.

If they do not fear this, deterrence becomes redundant.

Such a formula could boost deterrence to a high degree.

For what is deterrence? It’s when the fear of harm by the other side is so big that the fear removes their desire to violence.

**  This concept is not new. In ancient Japan and China, when wars broke out, entire families and clans identified with the leaders of opposing factions would be held hostage or imprisoned.

The same with the warring Arabs in history. 

In more modern times, the US 'interned' thousands of Japanese during the Second World War.  In Australia "aliens from enemy countries" ie citizens of enemy countries were also interned in concentration camps.  Not exactly the same but the idea is that there will be a collective punishment based on clan or family identity.

In the Middle East the Israelis have a policy of 'targetted assasinations' of leaders of terrorist organisatons. It does seem to have an effect on terrorist leaders to keep their ideas inside their pants.  

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