Four Approaches to Countering Modern Terrorism

Alex Wilner, AIMS Security and Defence Policy Intern, tackles international terrorism in this Commentary, The Best Defence is a Terrific Offence: Four Approaches to Countering Modern Terrorism. He outlines the evolving global security environment and explains how terrorist groups are today more easily able to organise and thrive than they once were. Global interdependence, technological sophistication, state weakness, and non-state empowerment have coalesced in ways that make the international system both ripe for – and dangerously susceptible to – catastrophic terrorism.

Wilner writes that as a response, states have constructed their counter-terrorism strategies along two related, though divergent, paths: (1) an international and predominantly military approach that combats terrorism offensively; and (2) a domestic civil-political initiative that denies terrorism’s impact by way of defensive preparedness. While both strategies are important halves to solving the terrorism puzzle, Wilner argues that offensive counter-terror tactics will prove most effective in combating the scourge of international terrorism.

The Best Defence concludes that for Canada and her many allies, offensive counter-terrorism involves four strategies: (1) crippling terrorism’s infrastructural and operational abilities around the globe; (2) deploying small, interconnected military teams able to dislodge and destroy decentralised terror networks; (3) selectively targeting and killing terrorist leaders, operators, and facilitators; and (4) constructing a robust multinational coalition able to contain and deter terrorist organizations and their state sponsors. Together with defensively-oriented domestic responses, these coercive measures will go a long way in securing our eventual victory in an era of catastrophic terrorism.

To read the Commentary, click here.