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To Fight Terrorism, You Must Know Your Enemy

What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat by Louise Richardson

Reviewed by Peter Grier
Christian Science Monitor

"The United States can't win a war on terrorism, any more than it could win a war against armed robbery or tornadoes. What it can do is contain the threat to the nation caused by a specific group of terrorists: Islamist radicals. To do so, it must strive to understand Al Qaeda and its ilk, and try to isolate them from communities which now give them tacit support. And it needs to have patience: Terrorist groups, even damaged ones, don't wither away quickly. In brief, these are among the main conclusions of Louise Richardson's concise and illuminating new book What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat. If you think the application of academic terrorism research to today's policy problems sounds interesting, this volume could be for you." Read the entire Christian Science Monitor review.

3 Responses to "To Fight Terrorism, You Must Know Your Enemy"

    Albert Armijo September 11th, 2006 at 9:09 am

    Louise Richardson's book on terrorism sounds interesting. Thanks for sending your review on it.

    sidney berger September 11th, 2006 at 1:20 pm

    i can only send thanx for this daily pleasure and insight into the world of new and important books.

    Shawn Davidson September 20th, 2006 at 3:54 am

    I haven't read Richardson's book yet. However, it is ironic that the Bush Administration is actually attempting to follow her six rules. 1) "Have a defensible and achievable goal, such as" ... spreading freedom and democracy. I would argue that that goal is defensible. Whether it is achievable is another debate. No doubt the execution of this plan has been abysmal in Iraq, nor are Afghanistan and Lebanon 'there' yet. 2) "Live by your principles. No more Abu Ghraibs." They need to work on this one. Situational ethics has trumped principles at all levels of the government and the military. 3)"Know your enemy." I think we know WHO are enemies are in a general sense. Perhaps the rule is UNDERSTAND your enemy, his objectives and passions, what motivates him. This is a work in progress. Most of us probably know more about Islamic fundamentalism now than we did five years ago. 4) "Separate the terrorists from their communities." In Afghanistan that's what we did in 2001, and that is what NATO is doing now. Tragically, we have created a commmunity in Iraq for many terrorists where only one--Saddam--existed before. Complicating matters, the 'community' is the terrorist in some places, witness Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine. 5) "Engage others in countering terrorists with you." Done. 6) "Have patience and keep your perspective." Like him or not, Bush knows the war against terrorism is a process, not an event. He has been described as having "steely determination." That requires patience.

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