Thursday, October 20, 2011

Some Rambling Thoughts on Threats


What if there are different categories of threats? What if the threats we are trying to focus on in so-called weak or failing or fragile or ungoverned or unlit states, spaces, whatever, are really just nuisance threats? That is not to say that we should discount them. That is also not to say that a nuisance is minor in terms of its potential effect. Take for instance the litany of  extremist organizations. I wonder if they are worth categorizing as a serious threat? Or are they just a nuisance - a dangerous nuisance - but a nuisance nonetheless? They are serious in that they create spectacular attacks which draw our attention. But do they wield any real power? My initial thoughts are they probably do not.

The reason I wonder if these kinds of threats are maybe just dangerous nuisances, is that we dedicate resources, money, and energy toward them. We dedicate a lot of resources, money, and energy toward them. In Afghanistan for instance, what kind of energy is devoted to killing one Taliban fighter? I don't have empirical data, but my guess is the ratio of resources to one Taliban fighter is tremendous. This then begs the question is the cost worth it? This also begs the question, what are we not paying attention to by focusing on nuisance threats? Therefore, I wonder if a nuisance threat like a terrorist or extremist organization warrants a focused direction of national and military strategies. I welcome some discussion on this.