Non-State Actors Biggest Threat in War Against the West

Non-State Actors Biggest Threat in War Against the West by Jason Thomas - The Australian

French counter-insurgency expert David Galula once explained that protracted guerilla warfare was so cheap to maintain and so expensive to suppress that it even­tually could produce a crisis within the counter-insurgency camp.

In the context of tension between North Korea and the US, the “fire and fury” rhetoric from President Donald Trump sends a message to other nations as much as to North Korea: a war with the US would be so costly as to be ­inconceivable. As Republican senator Lindsey Graham has emphasised: “If thousands are going to die, they will die over there.”

More rational non-allied states will have calculated the calamity of a state-on-state war with the US and its allies. That is why the risk of future warfare will increase significantly from non-state actors working by, with and through other nations, and novel interactions between technology, terrorists, insurgents, international drug traffickers and cyber criminals.

Every attack on a Western country since the end of World War II has been conducted by a non-state actor.

A cheaper alternative to conventional conflict for opponents of the US and its allies like us is to engineer endless “wars of the flea”, as guerilla war authority Robert Taber described them. In the war against the flea, the state suffers the dog’s disadvantages: too much to defend against a small, agile, ubiquitous enemy.

This war will take place across a variety of terrains, through a network of borderless non-state actors. Whether it’s al-Qa’ida, Islamic State, Antifa G20 rioters, Somali pirates, WikiLeaks, the Taliban or transnational criminal organisations, these players continue to have an impact on warfare, domestic security, regional stability and investment.

Non-state actors and states that use them as proxies have understood the power of decentralised, globally networked operating models where each node along the network can be a force multiplier and disproportionately amplifying their efforts…

Read on.

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This paints a picture of a network that doesn't exist. Yes, AQ, ISIS, Antifa, transnational criminal organizations, and what-have-you are all hostile non-state actors. But they don't all share the same goals (some are not even "anti-West"), nor do most have connections with each other, let alone coordinate actions. And most importantly, none of them are existential threats to the established states of the West. So adding to the statement, "Every attack on a Western country since the end of World War II has been conducted by a non-state actor," should be another that says, "No Western country has been toppled by a non-state actor." In fact, most of the non-state actor activities within said countries are not regarded as war, but as criminal activities, even now. There's a good case to be made that the only non-state actors who have defeated an established, stable state anywhere have been indigenous revolutionary or insurgent movements contesting colonial or non-indigenous occupying states, such as the American Revolution, or the Algerian War of Independence.

We need to put the threat in context. While hostile non-state actors may be pursuing their own campaigns against Western ideas and institutions, none are even close to being a position to destroy them.

My argument below possibly stated another way/a bit more concisely:

If today "The War Against the West" can indeed best be understood in New/Reverse Cold War terms --

Thus, as a "war" today in which many state and non-state actors work -- separately and together -- this; to prevent the U.S./the West from transforming their states and societies more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines. (Think of Russia's recent support to the Taliban in this light. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/04/24/russia-is-s...)

This, much as in the Old Cold War, wherein, much like today, many state and non-state actors worked -- separately and together -- in this case, to thwart Soviet/communist "expansionist" designs. (In this regard think, for example, of U.S./Western support to the Mujahideen back then. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/8215187/Natio...)

Then, given the above-described similarity -- of (a) these such "wars," (b) those involved in same and (c) the reasons for their involvement -- then the question seems to become:

In the Old Cold War of yesterday -- and in the New/Reverse Cold War of today also -- can "non-state actors" actually be seen as the "biggest threat;" this to:

a. The "expansionist" party concerned (the U.S/the West in the New/Reverse Cold War of today; the Soviets/the communists in the Old Cold War of yesterday)? And/or to:

b. Their, respective, "expansionist" mission (re: the U.S./the West: transforming outlying states and societies more along modern western lines; re: the Soviets/the communists: transforming outlying states and societies more along Soviet/communist lines)?

(Or, in fact, does the view which I provide above suggest, in the alternative and in both cases, that "great nations/great powers" were then, and indeed are still today, the "biggest threat;" this, to both [a] such "expansionist" nations and [b] their "expansionist" designs?)

In the Old Cold War of yesterday, re: (1) the "War Against the West" and, therein, (2) the use by our enemies of "non-state actors" in this cause; these, back then, might best be viewed through the lens of (a) defeating the West's, then, "containment" and "roll back" strategies, and in (b) transforming the outlying states and societies of the world -- more along Soviet/communist political, economic, social and value lines -- anyway/in spite of same.

In the New/Reverse Cold War of today, however, (1) the "War Against the West" and, therein, (2) the use by our enemies of "non-state actors" in this cause; these, today, might be seen through a very different lens. This being: (a) advancing our enemies' "containment" and "roll back" strategies; these (b) to effectively counter our own "expansionist" efforts and designs. (In this regard, think now of our desire, post-the Old Cold War, to now transform the outlying states and societies of the world; in this case, more along modern Western political, economic, social and value lines.)

Thus:

The manner in which one might view "Non-State Actors as the Biggest Threat in the War Against the Soviets/the Communists" back-in-the-day (to wit: as "agents" capable of helping one achieve one's "containment" and "roll back" strategic objectives),

This would seem to be exact same manner in which one might view "Non-State Actors as the Biggest Threat in the War Against the West" today? (Again, think along the lines of "containment" and "roll back.")

Doubt that the use of non-state actors -- in such "cold" wars -- should be seen in such a limited, and clearly defensive, manner? Then consider, from the perspective of Russia today and its traditional sphere of influence at least, the following:

"Differing from the previous Tsarist regional empire and the Soviet globalist one, the new Russian foreign policy has a more pragmatic goal. It aims to build different types of buffer zones against NATO encroachment to the West and U.S. counter-terrorism efforts in Central Asia."

http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/the-battlefield-of-tomorrow-fought-... (See the first paragraph under the major heading: "How We Fight: Shape, Deter, Defeat.")

Doubt that the West, in the Old Cold War of yesterday, used non-state actors for these exact same limited/defensive purposes? Then, from the perspective of the U.S., and its traditional sphere of influence at least, consider the following:

https://warontherocks.com/2015/04/america-did-hybrid-warfare-too/

Bottom Line Thought:

Thus, (1) as per a "War Against the West" and (2) whether "Non-State Actors are the Biggest Threat" therein -- these must be viewed (a) in the strategic context of the time (for example: in the context of the Old or New/Reverse Cold Wars?) and, therein, (b) as per the -- often very different/sometimes exact opposite -- strategic objectives of the party(ies) concerned (for example: think "expansion" -- or -- "containment" and "roll back?")?