Finally, Someone Said It

Three articles appeared this week in the national security journal War on the Rocks that provided a clearer view of the table stakes of this stage of the “war on terror” than I’ve seen in a long time.

(Full disclosure: I’ve previously worked for WOTR in several capacities.)

First was Lt. Gen. (ret.) David Barno and Nora Bensahel’s monthly column, which (presciently, I believe) noted how expansive definitions of terrorism, norms of targeted killing, and the proliferation of unmanned aerial strike technology could see U.S. political and military officials at significantly greater personal risk in the not-too-distant future.

Second, on a related note, was Raphael Cohen’s take on “The Politics of Man-Hunting and the Illusion of Victory.” Cohen effectively raises questions about whether the ability to personally target some of the most destructive people on the planet makes such strikes worthwhile, and especially about the now-familiar ritual of presidential “we got ‘im” announcements and public response. Are these strikes strategic efforts to cut off the heads of snakes, or simply an exercise in celebrity body-counting?

Finally, the always-insightful Francis Gavin attempted to “As[k] the Right Questions About the Past and Future of World Order.” For a brief and accessible history of how things got this way — for better and worse — and especially for its much-needed call for additional thinking and planning about the implications of modern finance and technology on “world” “order,” this essay is an excellent primer.