Monday, 5 September 2011


This paper proposes a new strategic approach to the global War on Terrorism.
The paper argues that the War is best understood as a global insurgency, initiated by a
diffuse grouping of Islamist movements that seek to re-make Islam’s role in the world order.
They use terrorism as their primary, but not their sole tactic. Therefore counterinsurgency
rather than traditional counterterrorism may offer the best approach to defeating global jihad.
But classical counterinsurgency, as developed in the 1960s, is designed to defeat insurgency
in a single country. It demands measures – coordinated political-military response,
integrated regional and inter-agency measures, protracted commitment to a course of action
– that cannot be achieved at the global level in today’s international system. Therefore a
traditional counterinsurgency paradigm will not work for the present War: instead, a
fundamental reappraisal of counterinsurgency is needed, to develop methods effective
against a globalised insurgency.
Counterinsurgency in its traditional guise is based on systems analysis. But Cartesian
systems analysis cannot handle the complexity inherent in counterinsurgency. Fortunately,
since the 1960s scientists have developed new approaches to systems analysis, based on the
emerging theory of Complexity, which does provide means for handling this complexity.
Therefore complex systems analysis of insurgent systems may be the tool needed to develop
a fundamentally new version of counterinsurgency for this War.