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Attacks in Bali, Madrid and London, among others, underpinned this assessment with a lethal truth. From Lebanon to 9/11 and back If the capabilities of terrorists are hard to attack with armed force, and doing so can have serious unanticipated consequences, what can be done? Obviously legal routes are promising: police and intelligence work can and has prevented a number of serious attacks, but they have sometimes failed. If, as in the London case, nascent terrorist cells are difficult to identify, wherefore counter-terrorism?

These are the deterministic assumptions underpinning a model of what former NATO deputy commander General Rupert Smith argues is an outdated concept of ‘industrial war’, He argues that we are in a new paradigm of ‘war amongst the people’ in which ‘there is a continuous criss-crossing between confrontation and conflict’ and war ‘is no longer a single massive event of military decision that delivers a conclusive political result’. The new strategic context is complex, protean and confusing: war is fought amongst civilians and all kinds of regular and irregular forces in conflict zones; it is fought via the media in living rooms around the world; its ends shift ‘from the hard absolute objectives of interstate industrial war to more malleable objectives to do with the individuals and societies that are not states’; new uses are found for old weapons; loose coalitions not states fight against non-state adversaries; and the strategic end is not victory but to create the conditions for politics, aid delivery or diplomacy (R.

Record still sees counter-terrorist operations against particular organizations in instrumental terms (‘intelligence-based arrests and assassinations, not divisions destroyed or ships sunk, are the cutting edge of successful counter-terrorism’) and sees the war against al Qaeda, as opposed to terrorism as such, to be ‘a 32 Anthony Burke war of necessity’. But this does not mean it is simple to fight: ‘the very nature, modus operandi and recruiting base of al Qaeda make it a very difficult enemy to subdue decisively through counter-terrorism operations’ (Record, 2003: 22).

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