Mass Media and Modern Warfare: Reporting on the Russian War on Terrorism

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This analysis addresses these issues by showing the rising global scope of terrorism, how it is evolving by region, the spread of terrorist violence in the Muslim world in spite of the current "wars" on terrorism, the fact that the threats extend far beyond a few current threats like ISIS, Al Qaida, and the Taliban, and the interactions between counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and key perpetrators in America's current wars. They all help set the stage for putting the trends in a given movement, cou8ntry, or region in perspective, but each also provides some additional insights:.

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Figure 7 to Figure 9 use the same sources to compare the trends in terrorism by region. These trends are particularly important because both regions are largely Muslims or high a high percentage of Muslims — trends explored in more depth in the next section. Like the previous maps tracing the global patterns in terrorism, these Figures do, however, highlight a key problem in U. The rising level of terrorism, however, is far broader in scope, and defeating particularly movements in particular countries can only achieve useful short term goals.

As becomes clear through this report, it is absurd to talk about even total success in such limited fights as somehow defeating terrorism. The scope of existing terrorism is far too wide. The underlying causes of terrorism — diverse as they seem to be — are far too great. The data in Figure 10 to Figure 1 — along with much of the data which follows — highlight a key problem in the U.

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They show the number of terrorist incidents in Muslim states and states where Islamic sectarianism and Islamist extremism are the overwhelming cause of terrorism. Extremist movements have actively used the Internet and other means to recruit and indoctrinate in the West.

The START and other data on terrorism do not, however, in any justify calling the rise of Islamic sectarianism and Islamist extremism a "clash of civilizations" and charges that Islam — or Islamist extremism — have somehow become focused on the West as its principal target are absurd. Any examination of the full START data base, or any estimate of the casualties produced in either the individual terrorist attacks listed by START or other sources, or UN and NGO data on the casualties and human costs of related insurgencies and civil wars shows that virtually every movement involved focused on taking power locally and controlling a given state or narrow region.

Small non-Muslim minorities did suffer, and many were killed, displaced, and made refugees.

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Like the Christian Reformation before it, however, today's religious terrorism and wars overwhelmingly consists of one religion attacking itself. It understands the need to deal with the threat in situ and the critical role Muslim government play as strategic partners in this struggle. There is enough xenophobia and bigotry among some factions in the West, however, to turn Huntington's valid concerns in the "Clash of Civilization" into yet another form of extremism.

The last thing the West needs is to meet ignorance and hatred with ignorance and hatred. At the same time, the Muslim governments and analysts who try to deny the rise in Islamist extremism, or insist on cloaking it in some form of "politically correct" rhetoric that denies its religious origins and nature. Regardless of every other measure that needs to be taken to reduce the causes of terrorism, ideological movements need to be fought on ideological terms. Islamist extremism needs to be labeled as such, and its deviance from actual Islamic scriptures, values, and history needs to be explained and made clear.

The fact such movements espouse approaches to law, economic, and social custom that would make it impossible for Muslim states to survive and compete in a modern world needs to be openly and constantly addressed. Every life matters, and the primary focus on the U. At the same time, Figure 14 to Figure 27 show that the very real threat that terrorism poses to the West is very limited in scope and then varies sharply by country to the point where no one approach to counterterrorism can be correct.

Figure Terrorism in Key Insurgencies and Civil Wars: , and Figure Worldwide Trend in Terrorism — Deaths , provide a rough indication of the impact of what happens when a violent terrorist or Islamist extremist movement makes the transition to insurgency. The data are often uncertain, for all the reasons stated earlier, but clearly show the impact of the initial transition. At the same time, they also reveal two key problems in the data.

The number of incidents and deaths drops sharply after because the level of conflict in several key states reaches the point of a major counterinsurgency war.

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This may be an accurate way of distinguishing between terrorism and war, but this is far from clear, and it does not illustrate the real world trends in the level of violence. The trends are also heavily driven by the fact that Turkey's fight against its Kurds are treated as counterterrorism, while the civil war in Syria is largely ignored because the actions of the Assad regime are sharply undercounted because they are treated as normal warfare rather than state terrorism. It has been fighting a third group — the Taliban — for some seventeen years, although it has historically been more of an insurgent group than a terrorist one.

It is still far from clear that the U. What is already clear, however, is how limited the role of that ISIL and Al Qaida play in terrorism is compared to the global and regional patterns in terrorism, and that even the total defeat of both would leave most current terrorism intact and do little or nothing to affect the causes of terrorism that can generate new movements. None of this makes containing and weakening movements less important.

The data on the impact of terrorism war in Iraq and Syria provide some insights to the progress in the fighting in what is effectively one war against ISIS, but also illustrate the major problems in tying terrorism data to the data or lack of it on the counterinsurgency campaign, and the problems in assessing Syria — where much of the fighting is dominated by the equivalent of state terrorism.

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These figures warn just how far the current conflicts have gone beyond given terrorist movements, and just how deeply they have divided and crippled civil society. In the case of Syria, Assad, state terrorism, Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia seem to be winning but will preside over a crippled state filled with people that have every reason to fear and hate the regime.

These Figures warn that Afghanistan remains locked into a war of attrition where there is no clear end in sight. They show that Pakistan is not only a state sponsor of terrorism, but still faces serious internal terrorist threats. World Bank data, and reports by the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction show that the Taliban continues to expand its influence, and that Afghanistan remains crippled by corruption and poor governance, deep political divisions, and a narco-economy where the rate of poverty has increased steadily since The final set of Figures in this analysis summarizes estimates of the trends in other major "wars" and again how different their scale.

The one thing these wars do all have in common is the lack of clear efforts to address the causes of violence at the civil level. Once again, the key question is why do these wars end? Anthony H. Cordesman holds the Arleigh A. He has served as a consultant on Afghanistan to the U.

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Reporting on the Russian War on Terrorism, 1st Edition

Download the Report. Download "Terrorism: U. Written By. Media Queries. Contact H. Most Recent From Anthony H. Cordesman Commentary. September 24, In the News. Time Brian Bennett.

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