Subject: Franchising Terror

George Schultz, Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State in the 1980s, observed that terror constituted ‘the matrix of different kinds of challenges, varying in scope and scale. If they have a single feature in common it is their ambiguity - they can throw us off balance.’

The World Today
4 minute READ

David Martin Jones

Visiting Professor, Department of War Studies, King’s College London

MLR Smith

Head of Department, Department of War Studies, King’s College London

As recent events illustrate all too graphically, the carefully co-ordinated terrorist act can be extremely effective in doing precisely that – throwing the US off balance.

The threat posed to the US and the west more generally by such acts is asymmetrical. As the US Quadrennial Defense Review noted last year, it can take many forms, including ‘the use of chemical, biological and possibly nuclear weapons; attacks against the information systems… as well as insurgency, terrorism and environmental destruction.’ It forecast, all too presciently that a future adversary might ‘employ asymmetric methods to delay or deny US access to critical facilities; disrupt our command, control, communications and intelligence networks; or inflict higher than expected casualties in an attempt to weaken our national resolve.’

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