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Asymmetrical Warfare/Terrorism


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How effective is asymmetrical warfare/terrorism?  Terrorists who struck in Spain/England sought to weaken the coalition of forces in Afghanistan, demoralize the population, resulting in a reduction of troops fighting in Afghanistan.  Ecological terrorism may also be an effective method to drain the economy reducing availability of resources for military use.  IIRC, in Iraq oil wells were set on fire to create a smoke screen ( I don't remember if oil was drained into the gulf) which may've contributed in part to gulf war syndrome.  Cyber-attacks also have the potential to cause disruptions since much of a nation's infrastructure is dependent on computers.  However a strong country with a sense of purpose can withstand most of these attacks even though they may be weaker militarily than the attacker.  An example of which is when England withstood the attacks by Germany during WWII with Churchill vowing never to surrender or something to that effect. 

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Or something to that effect?

I'm suddenly reminded of this from Messiah...

    "Follow me well, Reverend Mother," Scytale warned, using a voice mode which said: You are not a sex object, have never been a sex object, cannot be a sex object.

Only substitute thinker.

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"Terrorism" is an ambigous word, especially in the WW2 context. Although Churchill vowed to withstand German attempts to lower their morale by city bombardement, Britain has proven to be able to do it much more effectively. In my opinion it didn't help the British either because violence, especially undirected, arouses feelings of revenge, not only fear. But in that context it wasn't an asymmetrical conflict. Asymmetrical combat was that of guerilla units, which were always made up or supported by already warring countries, trying to ease the frontlines. WW2 guerillas were dependent on the frontline armies. I think this made them effective. Germans had to face an organized army ahead of them and sabotages behind.

Today's "low-intensity" (Yemen, Iraq) conflicts exist without frontlines - the guerillas stand only against the government and invaders. It's their incapability to fulfill needs of minorities or simply to keep order. So here is an attack a sign of ineffectivity of the rulers, not of effectivity of guerilla warfare...

Or something to that effect?

I'm suddenly reminded of this from Messiah...

Only substitute thinker.

You're off-topic.

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How does one define a terrorist? You're going to need to be more specific, as I'm not seeing a clear distinction (in this topic) between terrorists, propogandists and guerilla fighters.

Also, this country's name is Britain, or the United Kingdom. Simply as a matter of accuracy, please remember that.

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How does one define a terrorist? You're going to need to be more specific, as I'm not seeing a clear distinction (in this topic) between terrorists, propogandists and guerilla fighters.

Terrorists kill civilians while guerilla fighters kill soldiers, the distinction is crystal clear.  Propagandists use information/disinformation to shape reality for a particular aim (Orwell writes about propagandists in dept in his novel 1984).

Also, this country's name is Britain, or the United Kingdom. Simply as a matter of accuracy, please remember that.

Ok.

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"Terrorism" is an ambigous word, especially in the WW2 context. Although Churchill vowed to withstand German attempts to lower their morale by city bombardement, Britain has proven to be able to do it much more effectively. In my opinion it didn't help the British either because violence, especially undirected, arouses feelings of revenge, not only fear.

The V2 attacks on London was terrorism become it's goal was to terrorize the population rather than destroy military targets.  These attacks seemed to firm the resolve of the British to stand strong against their enemy.  Indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israelis also seems to be rather ineffective as a terror tactic.

But in that context it wasn't an asymmetrical conflict. Asymmetrical combat was that of guerilla units, which were always made up or supported by already warring countries, trying to ease the frontlines. WW2 guerillas were dependent on the frontline armies. I think this made them effective. Germans had to face an organized army ahead of them and sabotages behind.

I thought of the V2 attacks to contrast, in general terms, the resolve of the British to withstand these indiscriminate attacks during WWII with the the response to the London/Madrid al-qaida attacks. 

Today's "low-intensity" (Yemen, Iraq) conflicts exist without frontlines - the guerillas stand only against the government and invaders. It's their incapability to fulfill needs of minorities or simply to keep order. So here is an attack a sign of ineffectivity of the rulers, not of effectivity of guerilla warfare...

Agreed, the governments of Iraq/Afghanistan will eventually have to be able to provide order and fulfill the needs of it's population without foreign intervention.

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Hizballah missiles are an interesting thing, I ran recently to a book (Shifts in Hizbullah Ideology) which contained a lot about history of this arsenal. It was paid by many sources, including some Lebanese Christian activists, and its use was originally to deter attacks by Israel. Well, both sides found out they aren't that tough (well, there are people on the forum, who could say more about it). On the other hand, to provoke Israel to any high-cost operation by a small number of old rockets means strengthening the isolation of the country, polarization of its citizens and other kinds of long-term damage. They can't afford bombard Lebanon every year now, it would be hard to maintain face of a democratic country.

Also, this country's name is Britain, or the United Kingdom. Simply as a matter of accuracy, please remember that.

::)

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Terrorism has lost its meaning in present time. It is very common for those who hold the power to baptize their opponents as terrorists.

Asymmetrical Warfare? Which country/army doesn't engage in it?

'Britain'? Isn't the usage of this name to be avoided for the sake of your French neighbors? I still have products writing: 'Made in Great Britain'.

Britain was not unknown to the Classical world. As early as the 4th century BC' date=' the Greeks, Phoenicians  and Carthaginians  traded for Cornish tin. The Greeks refer to the [b']Cassiterides, or "tin islands"

Granted you wouldn't like to be called by a Greek name, or "tin", but why do you omit 'British Isles'?

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Why the heck would the French care what we call ourselves? Though it's off topic, for the sake of explanation...

Britain is the largest of the islands that make up the United Kingdom.

Great Britain includes the surrounding isles.

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are four semi-independently governed regions which together make up...

The United Kingdom.

To refer to the place as "England" is therefore incorrect.

I would argue though that terrorists are simply defined as "whoever my enemies are" by certain western governments.

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Terrorism has lost its meaning in present time. It is very common for those who hold the power to baptize their opponents as terrorists.

Asymmetrical Warfare? Which country/army doesn't engage in it?

In general, "terrorism" is the strategy of using terror as a weapon - to scare out civilians or soldiers (why not? they are humans capable of fear as well; they fear more if they know the enemy aims for family houses, for example) of the enemy and thus force them to do what we want. The meaning coming from the "war on terror" would be rather a message "you cannot scare us". In some aspects, every army is potentially terrorist force, as it can terrorize without meaning to annihilate or disorganize. It can deter by this mere potentiality. When they do some bloody operations, it is a point of interpretation, if terror was the goal.

Asymmetrical warfare, per definition, is a term which depends on comparison of opponents. Hamas lead an asymmetrical war with Israel because of its different idea of legitimacy, goals, weapons, but quite a symmetrical war against Fatah within the Palestinian scene.

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wikipedia reads:

Asymmetric warfare is war between belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly, or whose strategy or tactics differ significantly.

"Asymmetric warfare" can describe a conflict in which the resources of two belligerents differ in essence and in the struggle, interact and attempt to exploit each other's characteristic weaknesses. Such struggles often involve strategies and tactics of unconventional warfare, the "weaker" combatants attempting to use strategy to offset deficiencies in quantity or quality. Such strategies may not necessarily be militarized.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Why the heck would the French care what we call ourselves? Though it's off topic, for the sake of explanation...

Britain is the largest of the islands that make up the United Kingdom.

Great Britain includes the surrounding isles.

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are four semi-independently governed regions which together make up...

The United Kingdom.

To refer to the place as "England" is therefore incorrect.

There probably are some people in Northern Ireland who don't wish to be referred to as part of the United Kingdom.  Wiki also states that the Government of Ireland does not use the term British Isles.  The IRA, which is now a totally political organization, would also probably not refer to their country as part of the UK.  On a side note, the Ejercito Zapatista de Liberation National (EZLN), which may've previously practiced armed resistance, is now a wholly political organization.

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Wikipedia may not be the most scholarly source available which is why feedback from the learned members on this board is appreciated.  However, the point stands that the IRA's aim was for the establishment of a sovereign Northern Ireland.

The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) is an Irish republican paramilitary  organization whose aim was to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and bring about a United Ireland by force of arms and political persuasion

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provisional_Irish_Republican_Army

With respect to citizens within Northern Ireland there is a split between Unionists (who wish to remain part of the UK) and Nationalists (who wish for secession from the UK).

*Palestinians should take note of the Irish who formally denounced violence and instead sought through legitimate political means to achieve their aims.*

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The IRA's aim was to unite Ireland, not to recognise Northern Ireland as a seperate entity. And while there are some parallels to be drawn between the situation in Ireland and the Middle East, I question your reference to it given that you don't appear to know much about it.

As for terrorism, well the militaries of many nations have been known to engage in "shock and awe" tactics, as well as dubious practices designed to inflict fear.

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What's the matter? Secession from UK and unification with the republic seem to me like two inevitable consequences. Are there any cultural differences, which would make Northern and republican Irish two distinct ethnic groups?

It's just quite usual to link asymmetrical tactics and terrorism with separatism rather than with integrative attempts. Perhaps much better example would be Kurds: there are various Kurdish separatists, in Turkey or Iran, and yes, their politics are called "separatist" and means "terrorist", by the central governments; even though the both groups seem to have an unified Kurdistan as a goal. Or there could be Croatian or Serbian terrorists in their quite symmetrical conflict in 90s, but no "Yugoslavian" ones, who would burn villages for unity of the southern Slavs. In this way a perception of IRA as primarily a separatist group, and only then as an integrative component, is something quite expectable.

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In this way a perception of IRA as primarily a separatist group, and only then as an integrative component, is something quite expectable.

Just a technicality, I believe the IRA is more-or-less finished with its work, and the political changes in NI are actually led by the once political wing (but now, I suspect the more powerful entity) of the IRA; Sinn Fein (my apologies for any lack of accenting).

Anyway, I would argue that history is replete with the growth of plural cultures, and whereas one culture has hereditary power over another (due to more technological development or sheer numbers) the other culture will do what it must to be heard; whether they are the unrepresented British citizens, African Americans, women, or gays in America; the Catholic Republicans in Ireland; the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka; Palestinians in Israel; or Christians, Jews or Muslims throughout Western civilization (across different time periods). Does that justify the killing of civilians? But then, when your choices are; continue to suffer from nonrepresentation, bigotry, and immorality, or make the only statement available to you that will be heard by everyone who values life, what then?

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I'll lead off by saying that this topic is virtually meaningless unless an objective is defined. "How effective is asymmetrical warfare/terrorism?" Well, that depends on the case and the goals of the parties involved. There's no general, blanket statement that can be made on the efficacy of what we really mean to call guerrilla war.

For example: it's actually fairly ambiguous as to whether the provisional IRA's use of guerrilla tactics actually helped or hurt them in pursuance of their goals. Some provos certainly wanted the English out of Ulster: from that perspective, guerrilla war failed. However, some merely wanted the military occupation to end, and from that perspective, they succeeded. Could either of these goals have been better pursued via diplomacy? Probably. Ultimately, however, any analysis of the efficacy of a military strategy boils down to an analysis of the tactical competence of the parties involved. Was the IRA tactically competent? Largely, but they weren't perfect. The IRA actually wasted a lot of time and money doing things that make sense in a conventional war (say, buying BMPs), that they never actually ended up employing. Vice versa, the English, who were attempting to utilize a more conventional strategy, found themselves wasting a lot of time and money as well.

Or, take the United States in Vietnam, for example. The U.S. never had the manpower or the knowledge to actually control the jungles. They were confined largely to compounds and firebases by night, and to their immediate vicinity by day. The Viet Cong had the run of the jungles. The only way to challenge this would have been to send in U.S. forces into the jungle to employ the same tactics as the Viet Cong: constant mobility, booby traps, disruption of transit, intimidation of local populations. We weren't willing to do this (consistently), and so we never had control of the jungles. Regardless of whether we recognized this to be a key objective of ours, I believe that it was actually critical to establishing any form of tactical superiority over the Viet Cong, which was absolutely a goal of ours.

My third example comes from North America. Vermont actually fought a minor war against New York and New Hampshire, where it established itself as an independent republic for a few years before it eventually joined the United States. What Vermont did--and what the Confederacy should have done--was stay in the mountains and maintain control of the terrain. Conventional New York and New Hampshire forces were incapable of wresting control of the terrain away from the Green Mountain Boys, so both states gave up attempting to impose sovereignty over them.

Contrast this with General Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy: what they should have done was fall back into their own territory and fight as irregulars, making the terrain unholdable by the North. The North would eventually have given up, and the Confederate States would have accomplished their goal of surviving as a distinct power. However, the Confederacy decided to play a game of conventional war with the United States, which had triple the manpower, quintuple the industrial production, and septuple the money of the agrarian South. None of those are good indicators for your success in a conventional war. By fighting a conventional war, the South squandered virtually all of its military resources without ever seriously damaging the North's capacity to wage war. They probably would have been better served by a guerrilla strategy from the beginning--and at the end of the war, Lee's adjutants actually suggested that they wage a guerrilla war. Unfortunately (for them, not for humanity), Lee's sense of honor overrode them.

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The recent bomb attack inside the Ministry of Protection of the Civilian aiming the minister was an Asymmetrical Attack. Be assured that those behind the attack, aiming against the peace and stability of our country, will be "payed with he same coin"!

If the "coin" used for payment is the euro it will soon be a worthless one.  The attack itself seems to be a straightforward terrorist/assassination tactic.  If this assassination was part of a larger plan to weaken the Greek economy, cause the devaluation of the euro, weaken the European Union economically,etc then it would be an asymmetrical attack IMHO.

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  • 1 year later...

The simple act of printing money, it seems, can be utilized as a form of asymmetrical warfare. The following quote is from the book The Ascent of Money, by Nial Ferguson,

It was in Lenin that Keynes attributed the insight that “There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency”. . . his fellow Bolshevik Yevgeni Preobrazhensky did describe the banknote -printing press as “that machine-gun of the Commissariat of Finance which poured fire into the rear of the bourgeois system.”

Additionally, simple greed may behind corporations selling overpriced stock which inevitably will crash leading many to economic ruin. Historically, there may be little difference between the sudden collapse of Mississippi Company stock in the 1720s and Enron stock in the early 2000s. The Mississippi Company's collapse caused great financial instability in France ultimately leading to revolution. It remains to be seen what repercussions will occur if successive US companies's stock continue to fall as well.

EDIT: I can't help but think that these stock holders living the 1700's pictured below didn't feel the same way that Enron stock holders felt after the crash.

GTpicture1a.jpg

DUTCH MIRROR OF FOLLY, Windhandel 1720

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