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Ten years of the War on Terror: a strategic reassessment May 13, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : Afghanistan, Kumar, Vikas, Pakistan , comments closed

Vikas Kumar

The future of international terrorism and the War on Terror is being hotly debated after Osama bin Laden’s death. Osama’s liquidation could increase the risk aversion of Islamic extremists and trigger competition for supremacy among them. But it could as well lead to more attacks from his enraged supporters and nudge the otherwise factious extremists to join hands against the West. Irrespective of which of these two effects dominates we have no reason to celebrate because the decade long War on Terror, by design the third best solution, is a colossal waste of taxpayer’s money. In fact, the wild celebration of one man’s death highlights the pointlessness of the War on Terror waged by the most powerful nation of the world.

Under the first best solution, modernist, democratic forces directly ideologically challenge the religious extremists. But this solution is difficult to implement in AfPak, where any ideological campaign presumably has to first clear the Islam-in-danger hurdle. The second best solution involves supporting moderate, traditionalist religious groups in their ongoing conflicts with the religious extremists. The traditionalists need not clear the Islam-in-danger hurdle because they cannot be portrayed as anti-Islamic. The first and second best solutions include provision of physical security and development funding to non-extremists.

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