Conflict change from state-to-state wars of the twentieth century to counter terror operations today

With terrorism now a world wide problem, it is necessary to see how conflict has changed from
State-to-State wars of the early 20th century, to the need to have counter terrorist operations of
today.  Wars fought in the twentieth century centered mostly on nationalist issues with passion
 and  pride, for protecting borders against invasion and attacks on the nations people. Since then
there  has been severe damage to the legitimacy of the international order and governments.

Although dissent and resistance were common in many colonial possessions, and sometimes
resulted in open warfare, nationalist identities became a focal point for these actions. Members of
ethnic groups whose states had been absorbed by others or had ceased to exist as separate nations
saw opportunities to realize nationalist ambitions. Several of these groups chose terror as a
method to conduct their struggle and make their situation known to world powers they hoped
would be sympathetic.

The age of modern terrorism actually started in 1968 when the Popular Front for the Liberation
of Palestine (PFLP) hijacked an El Al airliner. The largest international terrorism attacked
occurred on September 11, 2001 in a set of co-ordinated attacks on the United States of America
where Islamic terrorists hijacked civilian airliners and used them to attack the World Trade
Center towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, DC.  Other major terrorist
attacks have also occured in New Delhi (Indian Parliament attacked) Bali car bomb attack
London subway bombings Madrid train bombings and the most recent attacks in Mumbai
(hotels, train station and a Jewish outreach center). The operational and strategic
epicenter of Islamic terrorism is now mostly centred in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Terrorism is no longer a law enforcement problem. Therefore with homeland security involving
military forces and intelligence agencies, things have  changed and  counter terrorism adopted.
After Cebrowski, a former president of the naval war college, recognized the need to have a
 network of warfare centric operations involving small combined military forces outfitted
with the latest technology, the whole nature of military action has changed. Cebrowski focus at
that time was on state to state wars. He felt armed forces need to develop ability to operate deep
in society and that it was necessary to create a new  defense  culture that permeated all levels of
society and  broke down barriers between organizations. According to him defense forces, must
be able to find targets and defeat  irregular forces, and achieve this by developing ways to avoid
strategic surprise. This strategy involved social immersion, and higher education which the
military forces  need to use.

Clausewitz was familiar with this because of Prussias partition of Poland with Russia and
Austria. His philosophy was that people fight to win a political victory, and it may be necessary
to think beyond open battlefields. Martin Van Creveld (1991.p142-156) presents the same idea
differently. He argues that a war for existence changes the nature of conflict when a community
fights to survive. In such circumstances there can be no political purpose as violence is the
purpose.  Creweld uses the French Algerian war (1954-1962) as an example of  non-classical
war.  The Algerians did not field an army and their attacks on the French violated established
codes of conflict and criminal law. The French responded with cost benefit analysis for fighting
 and sent troops based on this policy. Their aim was to impose political will on the Algerians. For
the Algerians survival became more important and their resorting to violence was justified.
Though their causalities were much higher than the French, the fighting  of the French became
justified and eventually through violence they succeeded.

If military forces are to change for future battles, they need to develop police like capabilities as
It  is clear that the nature of conflict has changed. If military forces approach homeland security
as  a continuation of national policy, they will bring the  wrong weapon to the wrong war.

Thomas Barnett (2004) says the purpose of power is to create a new set of international rules,
in which all nations are included  in economic development , prosperity and peace. When some
nations are excluded, terrorists  have no incentive to play within the rules. This meaning of war
extends beyond the realm of military force, and gives new roles to a variety of government and
private agencies.

The recent growth of terrorism has changed all aspects of military affairs and
the nation must be prepared to enter a new type of war.

Military forces must still fight these battles, but their mission has been extended and they must
transform their structure to take the fight to the terrorists. New capabilities developed to prevent
violence, keeping infrastructure operating, including the whole political spectrum and defending
the social structure must all be part of the strategy. There is need to realize that conflicts are
today quite different to the past wars of  the twentieth century .


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