Authored by USAF Institute for National Security Studies
In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attack on strategic targets inside the United States by al Qaeda, scholars, analysts, and policy specialists began to interpret and frame those events within the larger context of war. But was it war? And if it was, what kind of war was it? Al Qaeda was not a state but a nonstate actor. Many labeled al Qaeda a transnational terrorist organization. Could such a nonstate armed group go to war with a major state actor? What kind of war could it carry out? There were no easily decipherable answers to these questions, for al Qaeda did not reflect or emulate the conduct of war as it was known and practiced in the past.
Within a short period of time the US government began to describe the post 9/ 11 conflict environment-one in which America found itself engaged in a fight against unconventional and asymmetrical enemies who could pose major, even strategic, security threats-as a global war on terrorism. This generated a great deal of discussion and differences of opinion. Was this an accurate portrayal of the post 9/ 11 security environment or did such a characterization lack strategic clarity?
By the summer of 2005 senior Bush administration officials expressed serious doubts about this terminology and recast how they described the fight against al Qaeda, its affiliates, and other terrorist groups. Illustrative of this was Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. At news conferences and in public addresses he began to speak of a global struggle against violent extremism-“the long war”-rather than a global war on terrorism. Other senior military leaders, to include the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, followed suit.
But this begged the question, how should we understand those conducting “the long war?” Who are they and what kind of battle are they fighting? What are their objectives and what kind of strategy and tactics do they employ in this fight to achieve them? One possible answer that has been suggested is that the United States and its allies are now confronted by a global Salafi Jihad insurgency.
Oct 17 2014
1502863316 / 9781502863317
US Trade Paper
7″ x 10″
Black and White
Political Science / Political Freedom & Security / Terrorism