"A Theory of War" as "A Theory of Victory" (Part 1)
Admiral (ret.) Amichai Ayalon
Chairman of the Executive Committee
Maritime Policy and Strategy Research Center, University of Haifa
22 September 2021
Part of the EastMed Project
The ongoing war against terrorist organizations calls for a new theoretical framework that takes into account globalization and information revolutions. Defining the meaning of “victory” is essential when examining democracies’ war on terror. There is a lack of understanding of what it means to win the war on terror. Victory in this war is not directly correlated to military success on the battlefield but is an interplay of three fronts: home front, military front, and international front. Of these, the home front is the most important – the aim of terrorist organizations and the resilience of civilian society are the determining factors in achieving victory.
The military struggles that dominated the world stage after the end of the Cold War – mostly confrontations between states and non-state organizations in Asia and Africa – have not been sufficiently incorporated into the thinking of political decision-makers, nor has the end of the Cold War itself.
Images and conflicts can be instantly broadcast around the world – either through TV cameras, by the combatants themselves, or by civilians or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) using personal phones to upload images to social media. War thus becomes “imagefare,” since states have lost the ability to control the war of information.
The salient characteristic of many present-day adversaries is their ability to keep fighting despite massive casualties that would likely have caused a regular national army to surrender. A strategy of non-surrender can turn war into a never-ending struggle in which it is difficult to identify a clear beginning and endpoint.
The war on terror is primarily a war of the hearts and minds of people – internationally, domestically, and in the civilian population in which terrorist organizations operate. This calls for greater emphasis on the distinction between terrorists and civilians, offering hope to the latter.
Since it is ongoing and involves increased security measures domestically, the war on terror threatens democracy itself. Gradual steps, each of them justified in itself can lead to a diminution of human rights and democratic checks and balances.
At the same time, democratic mechanisms are the best way to arbitrate social conflicts and bolster social cohesion; without them, states become more vulnerable to the destabilizing and radicalizing effects of terrorism. In this sense, democracies do not win the war in spite of democratic limitations placed on combating terrorism, but because of them.
#Israel #Terrorism #Democracy
Amiral (ret.) Amichai Ayalon is currently the chairman of the Executive Committee of the Haifa Research Center for Maritime Policy & Strategy. He is also Chair of AKIM Israel (the National Association for the Habilitation of Children and Adults with Intellectual Abilities). Adm. Ayalon is a former Director of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) as well as the Commander of the Israeli Navy. In addition, Adm. Ayalon served as a Member of the Knesset – the Israeli Parliament – and a former cabinet minister.
“Redefining Victory in the War on Terror: A Great Challenge to Democracies”:
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