quote:This theme of working with local partners is still vital for Crumpton. But perhaps his most innovative contribution is to treat the global war on terror as a giant, global counter-insurgency campaign.
"Al-Qa'ida and its affiliates exhibit many of the characteristics of an insurgency," he says. "It's not just terrorism. The enemy is involved in intelligence collection, propaganda dissemination, subversion, terror and open warfare. If you perceive it that way, it makes a difference to how you respond."
Crumpton outlines three strategic objectives for the US and its allies: "The first is the nullification of the enemy leadership." This can occur by de-legitimising them, perhaps occasionally co-opting them, or capturing or killing them.
"The second is to deny the enemy safe havens. And the third is to provide networks that address local grievances that the enemy exploits. Eighty per cent of the effort will be non-military. We are certainly aware of the importance of the information campaign. And we are still learning how best to explore it, especially when it's linked to local circumstances and local events. Look at how the tsunami in Indonesia led directly to the peace accords in Aceh."
The importance of an effective information campaign is a theme heard from many US officials. They recognise the war on terror will last for generations and that it will require as big an information effort as the Cold War did, with its panoply of US-funded journals, television and the like.
"In some respects we're just beginning on this and if you look at the beginning of the Cold War you could compare our efforts with that," Crumpton says.
"It's more complex than the Cold War because it's not bipolar (as with the US and the Soviet Union). In some ways it's less about US policies and more about the global rule of law and the rise of liberal institutions.
"This will be critical to al-Qa'ida's defeat. They're really afraid of these very powerful forces of globalisation.
"Al-Qa'ida is very adroit at using the tools of globalisation but the economic development (that globalisation fosters) and the integration of global norms are very positive." He believes these dynamics will in time damage al-Qa'ida.
I normally wouldn't touch a Greg Sheridan article with a barge pole. His ideas are driven entirely by ideology, a very right wing, pro war (if America's in it, he's for it), ideology.