Monday, June 19, 2006

An Assessment of the "War on Terror" by the Oxford Research Group


This post has been in my drafts folder since last Thursday night.   In light of today's news about North Korea's nuclear missile testing  this article may be just as timely today. plk





JUNE 13, 2006  11:23 AM     CONTACT: Oxford Research Group


'War on Terror' Failing, and Distracting Politicians from the Genuine Threats to Global Security


OXFORD, England - June 13 –


  • Major new study deeply critical of UK and US policies in the 'war on terror', finding that they make the risk of future terrorist attacks on the scale of New York, Madrid or London more likely, not less likely.
  • One of Britain's leading independent think tanks concludes that the current focus on international terrorism is distracting politicians from more fundamental threats to global security, causing their responses to those threats to be wholly inadequate.
  • Report receives worldwide attention and gains support from major international figures in the political, military and NGO world.


The 'war on terror' is a dangerous diversion and prevents the international community from responding effectively to the most likely causes of future conflict, according to a new report, Global Responses to Global Threats: Sustainable Security for the 21st Century, published 12 June 2006.


The result of an 18-month long study by Oxford Research Group, one of Britain's leading independent think tanks, the authors argue that the genuine threats to peace and the likely causes of future conflict are:


  • climate change,
  • competition over resources,
  • socio-economic marginalisation, and
  • global militarisation.


These are the trends that are likely to lead to substantial global and regional instability and large-scale loss of life of a magnitude unmatched by other potential threats, including terrorism.


They are far more important than the current focus on the 'war on terror'. This deeply flawed strategy is consuming hundreds of billions of dollars, creating more recruits and supporters of terrorism than it defeats, and is diverting attention from threats to security that are far more serious, lasting and destructive than that of international terrorism.


Furthermore, the current response to insecurity is essentially about "control" - attempting to maintain the status quo through military force, without addressing the root causes. The authors argue that such security policies are self-defeating in the long-term, and so a new approach is urgently needed.


An alternative "sustainable security" approach aims to address the root causes of those threats, cooperatively using the most effective means available. For example:


  • renewable energy and conservation as the most important response to climate change;
  • energy efficiency as a response to resource competition;
  • intensive poverty reduction programmes as a means to address marginalisation; and
  • the halting and reversal of WMD development and proliferation as a main component of checking global militarisation.


These provide the best chance of averting global disaster, as well as addressing some of the root causes of terrorism.


According to Oxford Research Group, it will be essential to encourage governments, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom, to rethink their current security outlook, with the next five years being the key period for change if we are to avoid a highly unstable global system by the middle years of the century.


Even though both governments look very set in their ways and repeatedly claim "there is no alternative", there is abundant evidence that the 'war on terror' is proving deeply counterproductive - making the risk of future terrorist attacks on the scale of New York, Madrid or London more likely, not less likely.


The Iraq war is now into its fourth year and the conflict in Afghanistan moves into its sixth year in October, yet both countries are increasingly unstable and violent while the al-Qaida movement is as active as ever. In such circumstances, the authors of the report believe there is now real opportunity for an intensive debate leading to a realistic chance of changes in policy.


Commenting on the publication of the report, former UK Secretary of State for International Development, Clare Short MP, said:


"Current US and UK foreign policy is totally counterproductive and is encouraging terrorism and proliferation of WMD. This report offers a serious alternative which would make the world safer. I hope it is widely read."



The Liberal Democrat spokesperson on defence in the House of Lords, Air Marshal the Lord Garden, added:


"This report takes a measured look at the challenges that the planet faces in the coming years, and offers a coherent strategy to make the world a safer place. If we are to reverse the deepening crisis, a global approach to security in all it aspects is needed. The authors offer a compelling starting point."



Notes to editors


1) The report was published on 12 June 2006, and copies are available by emailing or downloading from


2) The report's authors are available for interview and comment:


Chris Abbott +44 (0)7979 428 312

Paul Rogers +44 (0)7867 982 061

John Sloboda +44 (0)7787 975 689


Chris Abbott is a Research Officer at Oxford Research Group responsible for the Global Security Programme. He is the coordinator of ORG's "global threats" project and lead author of this paper.


Paul Rogers is Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford, and Global Security Consultant to Oxford Research Group.


John Sloboda is Executive Director of Oxford Research Group. He is also Professor of Psychology and Honorary Research Fellow in the School of International Relations, Politics and the Environment at Keele University.


3) Oxford Research Group (ORG) is an independent British think tank which works to bring about positive change on issues of national and international security. Established in 1982, it is a registered charity and a public company limited by guarantee. We employ a small core of staff and consultants, overseen by a Board of Trustees, and supported by a network of Patrons, Associates and Sustainers who come from all walks of life. In 2003, Oxford Research Group was awarded the Niwano Peace Prize, and in April 2005 The Independent newspaper named ORG as one of the top twenty think tanks in the UK engaged in 'blue skies' thinking.


Tel. +44 (0)1865 242 819, web


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