“Five-and-a-half years ago, 19 terrorists hijacked four airplanes and changed the course of history. Just as we underestimated Al Qaeda then, we risk repeating the same mistake now.” (Hoffman 2007, 44).
First, the question itself merits a two or so sentences – it is interesting by itself. Clausewitz's concept of war is “Absolute War” rather than a “Total War.” The concept of “Absolute War” is an abstract concept or a war free of politics, which is actually impossible. “Total War,” on the other hand, is the idea that a country's entire effort can be put behind a war effort which was mainly advocated by General Erich Ludendorff. He thought that if a country views a war as a total war, then everything becomes a legitimate target. Unfortunately, his concepts on “Total War” was one of the reasons why General Ludendorff was included the list of war criminals handed down by the Allies to the Germans in 1919.
Foster was right in saying that “[t]he Great War was long, painful and costly. The Second World War was total and murderous. Both wars haunted the last century and haunt us still” (2003, 321). These wars are examples of a “Total War.” Fortunately, the Iran – Iraq War in the 1980s was the last “Total War” conducted. As a result of the destruction caused by the Second World War or WWII military theorists in both the West and the Soviet Block began to reject the idea of a “Total War.” They began looking at this type of war as a waste and counterproductive. The destruction resulting from these wars resulted to an expanded sense of international humanitarian law which demanded that the idea of “Total War” in battles be replaced by a more “humane” form of war. The international humanitarian law demanded that the sanctity of basic human rights be protected at all times – in war and in peace. This resulted to the declaration of the United Nations of the common pledge to “preserve human rights and justice in their own lands as well as in other lands” (Betts 2005, 53).
[...] An Al Qaeda document, supposedly written by the group's Arabian Peninsula commander, Abdul Azziz al-Moqrin, shed light on how Al Qaeda adapted “Total War.” The document “shed considerable light on the current pattern of jihadist attacks in Saudi Arabia and Iraq” (Hoffman 2004, 425). The document identified as attack priorities economic targets in the Middle East with the purpose, according to Moqrin, destabilize the situation and not allow economic recovery” (Hoffman 2004, 425). Another identified purpose is to “encourage” foreign capital or investments to be withdrawn from the local markets. [...]
[...] It seems that the West and its military strategists and theorists need to go back to General Erich Ludendorff's main ideas on the concept of “Total War.” In doing so, they may be able to comprehend how Al Qaeda and its main leaders think and operate. Moreover, rather than asking we there meaning are we in a world where war is fought under the concept of “Total the West and its strategists should start thinking that truly, we are. From all the discussions above, I disagree with what Hugh Galford said that Qaeda is the contemporary bete noire, the unknown and unknowable monster that strikes without rhyme or reason” (2004, 90). [...]
[...] Another Al Qaeda attack which has a devastating impact on the civilian world is the bombing of a Madrid train by the group in March 2004. The July 7 London Bombings showed to the world that Al Qaeda has really no qualms about attacking civilians. Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda's leader, justified these attacks to civilians. He said that “What America is tasting today is but a fraction of what we have tasted for decades. For over eighty years our umma [Islamic community] has endured this humiliation and contempt. [...]
[...] Tooley further opined that our history is full of accounts on the “numerous causes and sources for the horrific brutality of twentieth-century warfare, for its cruelties against civilians, and for nonwar state violence against civilians” (2007, 365). However, since the First Gulf War another shift a shift back to the concept of “Total emerged. The first attack of the World Trade Center marked this turning point in military affairs and strategies. The Al Qaeda attack on the World Trade Center symbolizes that the group has no qualms of targeting a target with no overt military significance, but attacking such target might give them a head way in their attempt to deteriorate the American/Western economy. [...]
[...] M The impact of terrorism on financial markets. International Monetary Fund, March 2005, 3-21. Hoffman, B Al Qaeda and the war on terrorism: An update. Current History 103 423-427. Hoffman, B The global terrorist threat: is al-qaeda on the run or on the march? Middle East Policy 44-58. Karolyi, G. A The consequences of terrorism for financial markets: What do we know. Fisher College of Business, Ohio State University May 2006, 1-12. Kober, A Military decision in war: A framework for research. [...]
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