'New war' plans revealed?

— 12:40 AM on September 20, 2001

This report in The Times of London claims to know what most of us are wondering about right now: What are the plans for this coming "War on terrorism"? The question, of course, is "How does one go to war on 'terrorism'?" According to the Times report, this new war will look radically different from past wars:

Old doctrines for fighting wars, based on lining up tanks and artillery and layers of troops, are being thrown out and replaced by a more subtle and wide-ranging doctrine which seeks to defeat the enemy at its own game. “The aim is not to go for the enemy’s strengths, but its weaknesses,” one source said.

American and British planners are working on the basis that military strikes will take place only as part of a broader global counter-terrorist operation, embracing every other type of international action — diplomatic, economic and political.

Notably, the report claims there will be no massive invasion of Afghanistan or other countries, despite reports of movement of U.S. military assets into the region. Rather, the military will apparently act as a big stick in a "carrot and stick" anti-terrorism routine, striking when necessary to support the larger effort.

I'm not certain what make of all this, though some of it sounds sensible. But I have to say I don't like what's implied in this analogy:

The war on terrorism could be likened, they said, to the war on drugs or poverty, and the best way to undermine and eventually dismantle the terrorist structures around the world was to use the method of “hearts and minds” — encouraging foreign governments and people to join in the “war” so that terrorists would be isolated and identified.
Those "wars" haven't exactly been great successes. Let's hope we go into this one with our eyes open about some basics, and with some realism about how to define success.
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