Terrorism, Security and the Power of Informal Networks

Terrorism, Security and the Power of Informal Networks

Edited by David Martin Jones, Ann Lane and Paul Schulte

This innovative work examines the concept of the informal network and its practical utility within the context of counterterrorism. Drawing together a range of practitioner and academic expertise it explores the character and evolution of informal networks, addressing the complex relationship between kinship groups, transnational linkages and the role that globalization and new technologies play in their formation and sustainability.

Chapter 10: Hearts and Minds: Time to Think Differently?

Steve Tatham

Subjects: politics and public policy, international politics, terrorism and security

Extract

* Steve Tatham Insurgent media are forming perceptions of the war in Iraq amongst the best educated and most influential segments of the Arab population.1 In 2005 the Cambridge academic Ivan Arreguin-Toft published a study entitled How the Weak Win Wars: a Theory of Asymmetric Conflict.2 In it he analysed 200 years of global conflict and measured which actor (be it the weaker or stronger) prevailed. As might reasonably be presumed, he found that since 1800 the stronger actors had won their conflicts by a ratio of approximately 2:1. Yet Arreguin-Toft also found that in the years since 1900, and particularly since 1950, the weaker actor has fared significantly better, in many cases either winning or achieving a tied outcome. That early period of his study is notably characterized by the decolonization process, ostensibly in Africa and the Middle East; the victory of weaker forces as a result of the decline in support for the objective by the stronger side. Yet even with the colonial experience removed, the results still support Arreguin-Toft’s hypothesis: weaker actors are proving more adept at wining conflicts than ever they were before. Arreguin-Toft’s study attempts to identify why this may be, and posits a series of ideas; key is that of ‘strategic interaction’, the idea that the actor who most efficiently utilizes all available warfare strategies and tactics will prevail. When, he argues, two actors battle in a direct–direct manner (that is, they employ a similar strategic approach to their war fighting) then invariably...

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