In 1999, two senior colonels of the time, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, published a book Chao Xian Zhan (War Beyond Limits), that later became a classic of the new military thinking. In that, they argued it was unnecessary for China to try to chase the Americans on the acquisition of more and more expensive and complicated military technology.
According to them, a war against a more technologically advanced enemy could be won by confusing its strategy and hitting it in an unexpected manner and place.
They cited the case of Al Qaeda, a terrorist group already active but badly ignored until September 11. The attack startled and scared America and triggered a chain of events that ultimately led to the attacks in Paris and also the current tension in the Middle East and Central Asia.
Today, the heir of Al Qaeda, Islamic Republic (IS), uses the same strategy and way of thinking that led to the September 11 attack, but from a different position.
As explained previously (see http://atimes.com/2015/11/under-siege-is-struck-at-the-heart-of-europe-sisci/), on September 11, Al Qaeda wanted to raise the level of confrontation and become a magnet for extreme Muslim ideology. Today, IS faces difficulties in the war on the ground in Syria and Iraq.
Until a few months ago, IS did not support terrorism in Europe because it had to concentrate on gaining territory in Syria and Iraq.
Al Qaeda grew because it was neglected in Afghanistan; IS grew because it has been able to exploit the differing and competing goals of the various regional players: Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Israel, as well as Russia and the United States.
Now that IS is losing in its own terrain, the group tries to compensate for its military defeats in Syria with psychological victories elsewhere by blowing up a Russian passenger plane or setting off a series of suicide missions in Paris.
For IS, such defeats come when it gets confused over the strategy against them. With IS position weakening in Syria, all that the enemies of IS have to do is to ensure there is a strong political agreement among them to foil IS’ plans of playing one regional power against the other.
Also, the fight against terrorism in Europe, instead of being handled by the army, should be entrusted to a unified European police force. The problem in tackling terror has been a lack of coordination on laws and information between different countries.
Terrorists have moved, armed themselves, and organized because they can travel from one European country to another without checks and exploit loopholes of rules and regulations between them.
Ideally, a single authority should serve Europe’s maritime, land, and air borders. Also Europe needs a single anti-terrorism police force. Without that, Europeans should better give up the fight against terror. There may be individual efforts of each country against terrorism, but because of lack of coordination and consistency among them, such efforts fail to bring the results.
Therefore, a common police authority and joint European anti-terrorism effort is urgently needed now.
The Pope has announced the beginning of the Holy Year on December 8, which means that Rome and the Vatican are under siege. From then on, every Catholic church in Europe will be a potential target, and terrorists may be hiding in the wave of pilgrims arriving in Rome or in Europe.
For all the players involved, the crucial element to defeat IS’ strategy in Europe is a police force that will control the territory and stop potential terrorists and not more bombings in Syria.
Even less useful are special anti-terrorist laws in one European country, such as France or Germany, that are not reflected immediately and completely in every other European country. It would be extremely difficult to pass the same anti-terrorist laws in every European country with different concerns and history about individual rights.
Conversely, a unified anti-terrorism police force and border control could help in a big way to prevent extremists from staging strikes in Europe.
If this aspect is ignored, Europe will become more and more vulnerable to terror attacks.
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