02/10 Discussion: Ch. 24: Rethinking the Global War on Terror:
1. What is Islamist Militancy and why has it been termed that way? (p. 425-426)
a. Those who employ or promote the use of violence in pursuit of political goals. It
represents a transnational, highly dynamic, decentralized, religiously inspired
movement that is operated by a collection of non-state actors. It is entirely
different that traditional state threats. Islamist – politico-religious movement
within the Muslim world; Militancy – those who employ or promote violence.
2. Why is it so difficult to understand the “New Security Challenge” that we are facing in
the twenty-first century? (p. 426)
a. There has been a lack of consensus how to define the new threat. A lack of clarity
inhibits our ability to develop a clear and comprehensive understanding of its
objectives. Without such clarity, it is rather difficult to conceive of an effective
3. What are the three main constituent groups of Islamist Militancy and what are some
examples of their memberships? (p. 426)
a. Transnational Jihadist groups – have a global agenda (al Qaeda); Nationalist
Insurgent groups – have a local agenda (Hamas, Hezbollah); Miscellaneous
organizations and networks – directly or indirectly support militant groups.
4. Why have we begun to switch towards unconventional warfare tactics? (p. 427)
a. The New Security Challenge requires a new set of tactics. Conventional
counterterrorist responses are usually effective but they are not sufficient.
Militant groups are acting more independent now. They are also self-organizing
and operating at a local level. There are many challenges associated with viewing
the problem as a global counter terrorist or global counter insurgency; they are
too narrow of terms. Therefore they have resulted in looking at the threat in terms
of an epidemic.
5. What is the significance of using “disease metaphors” is describing Islamist Militancy?
a. Islamist Militancy is constantly mutating and evolving, similar to that of a
disease. Mosques and Madrassas act as incubators of their radicalism. Such
metaphors convey a dangerous and deceptive threat, similar to that of diseases.
Furthermore, since the majority of most diseases are treatable, applying such
metaphors to Islamist Militancy signifies that it too can be eradicated.
6. The author mentions three epidemiological approaches, what are they and why are they
relevant in addressing the challenges associated with combating Islamist Militancy? (p.
a. (1) Seeking clarity on the origins and geographical and social contours of an
outbreak. Applying this approach can allow us understand where Islamist
Militancy is and how we can counter it. (2) Diseases do not arise nor spread in a
vacuum. They emerge and evolve as a result of interactive processes between
people and their environments. This approach deconstructs Islamist Militancy in
order to better understand its elements and its evolution. (3) Recognizing that
success in controlling an epidemic is the result of a systematic and multipronged
effort. This implies undertaking in a global counterterrorism campaign to combat
7. How is the Epidemic Model applied in order to break down Islamist Militancy? What are
its components? (p. 429)
a. Epidemiologists employ a standard approach to study epidemics that deconstructs
an outbreak into four components: The agent, which is the pathogen that causes
the disease; the host, the one infected by the disease; the environment, external
factors that affect both the agent and the host; vectors, which are the pathways
that help spread the disease. Relative to Islamist Militancy, it can be seen as
having epidemic-like qualities. Therefore, it can be deconstructed using the
epidemic model. The agent – Islamist Militant ideology; the host – a group or
individual who becomes adherent of the militant ideology; the environment – key
factors specific to the Muslim world that promote exposure to Islamist Militancy
(conflict, political repression, economic stagnation,, social tensions); vectors –
pathways that are used to spread the cause of Islamist ideologies (mosques,
madrassas, internet, satellite television, etc).
8. How does the author assess the spread of Islamist Militancy? What does susceptibility
refer to? (p. 429-430)
a. The size and spread of Islamist militancy is difficult to assess. There are many
indicators that the phenomenon is spreading. Susceptible refers to becoming not
only an adherent of the ideology but actively motivated by it. It is expected that
the “pool” of susceptibles is expanding.
9. What is the counterepidemic approach and how is it implemented to counteract the
spread of “infectious” Islamist Militancy? (p. 430)
a. A three-pronged approach to dealing with an outbreak of an epidemic. First you
must contain the most threatening outbreaks to prevent them from obtaining
significant mass that would allow them to threaten public order. Secondly, you
must protect those who are most vulnerable or susceptible to the disease and
those most important to the functioning of society. Third, you must remedy the
environmental conditions that facilitated the outbreak of the disease in specific
areas. This approach is able to be adapted and applied to counteracting the
outbreak of threats of Islamist Militancy. Containing and contracting the
activities of Islamist militant groups. Protecting high risk and high value
communities within the Muslim world. High value communities consist of
educational, religious, political and security sectors of the country that are the
biggest threat from Islamist militants. Remedying the environmental factors that
fostered an outbreak of radical ideologies.
10. What are containment measures? What are some problems associated with containment?
a. Containment measures would place more emphasis on disrupting and restricting
the use of key vectors. (1) The internet, satellite television, prisons, schools,
mosques. Problem: containment measures are typically reactive in nature; they
are done after the fact. (2) Applying the “ideological antidote” to the key tenets of
Islamist ideology. This would denounce and delegitimize jihadist propaganda,
beheadings and killings. Problem: such efforts have been made but they were
never extensive enough. (3) Targeting the activities of Islamist militants would
allow for the exploiting of ideological contradictions within their own movement,
creating dissension and defection. (4) Providing amnesties to insurgents, an act of
rehabilitation, signifies the possibility of their integration into political systems.
11. What are protective measures and how are they implemented? (p. 432)
a. They are aimed at those who are at most risk and those who play an important
role in society. (1) Key populations have been targeted in order to turn off their
receptiveness to specific ideas. They appeal to people’s common sense, their
safety, their peer groups, religious acts, etc. (2) Programs aimed at undermining
the appeal of militant Islamist ideologies. This can be implemented in schools,
mosques to media outlets. (3) Western states can become allies with the Muslim
world and provide discrete assistance. (4) You can provide positive and
compelling alternatives for your future. (5) Vectors such as mosques and media
outlets are critical and therefore the voices within these areas need to be
strengthened to counteract the radical ideologies.
12. The author mentions several remedial measures, what are they and how can they be
effective? (p. 432-433)
a. Remedy key environmental conditions that promote Islamist militancy in the
Muslim world. (1) Conflict resolution efforts help to invalidate jihadist
propaganda. (2) Political reform with good governance aids in neutralizing
Islamist militant ideology that calls for eradicating corrupt regimes. (3) Increased
civil liberties promotes a level, political playing field that allows public
interaction, (4) Facilitating the political participation of peaceful Islamists can
help to develop into an effective counter agent of radical Islamist ideologies. (5)
Economic reforms create economic growth and job creation, which in turn
decreases economic burdens on the public; Economic reforms also promote
increased interest for foreign investment which allows the Muslim world to
cooperate in the global economy.
13. Since we now understand the framework of the counterepidemic approach, what is its
overall intended effect on Islamist Militancy? (p. 433)
a. The combined effect of the counterepidemic approach, containment, protective,
and remedial, will be to divide, isolate, and weaken the Islamist militant groups
and decrease their operational impact. Success will depend on the a continuous
commitment and international cooperation consisting of states and
14. What are the tenets of effective conflict prevention and management? What are their
significances? (p. 433-434)
a. (1) – Prevention is better than cure: Preventive measures decrease the risk of
violence. Early warning and early response can have an extreme. (2) – Diagnose
before treating: You must know the ailment, or the enemy. Understanding the
sources and dynamics of a conflict before taking action increases the chances of
applying the right corrective response and generating the right outcomes. (3) –
Do no harm: Poorly timed interventions can make a problem worse. You must
balance incentives and disincentives, and force with diplomacy. (4) – Address the
source not the symptoms: The “Band-Aid” approach to conflict management
delays and complicates the task of finding a solution. Ending the conflict does not
mean that you have fixed the roots of the problem. (5) – Palliate what you cannot
cure: Sometimes a solution is beyond political reach; it is incurable. At best, all
you can do is to limit the consequences and not make the situation worse.