How 9/11 Changed Our Ways of War

How 9/11 Changed Our Ways of War

How 9/11 Changed Our Ways of War

How 9/11 Changed Our Ways of War

Synopsis

Following the 9/11 attacks, a war against al Qaeda by the U.S. and its liberal democratic allies was next to inevitable. But what kind of war would it be, how would it be fought, for how long, and what would it cost in lives and money? None of this was known at the time. What came to be known was that the old ways of war must change-but how?

Now, with over a decade of political decision-making and warfighting to analyze, How 9/11 Changed Our Ways of War addresses that question. In particular it assesses how well those ways of war, adapted to fight terrorism, affect our military capacity to protect and sustain liberal democratic values.

The book pursues three themes: what shaped the strategic choice to go to war; what force was used to wage the war; and what resources were needed to carry on the fight? In each case, military effectiveness required new and strict limits on the justification, use, and support of force. How to identify and observe these limits is a matter debated by the various contributors. Their debate raises questions about waging future wars-including how to defend against and control the use of drones, cyber warfare, and targeted assassinations. The contributors include historians, political scientists, and sociologists; both academics and practitioners.

Excerpt

James Burk

AL QAEDA’S ATTACK AGAINST THE UNITED STATES ON September 11, 2001, was a matter of choice. There was no apparent necessity for al Qaeda to attack innocent civilians on such a scale within U.S. borders. By this attack, al Qaeda chose to escalate sharply a conflict that it had already declared was a war against the West. Once the attack was carried out, a war against al Qaeda by the United States and its liberal democratic allies was next to inevitable. But what kind of war would it be, how would it be fought, for how long, and what would it cost in lives and money? None of that was known. The impending war would not be a conventional interstate conflict fought in the familiar interstate way. The rules of interstate war, never perfectly followed, would be hard to apply in a “war against terror.” Some said that the old rules did not apply and were better done without. The gloves were off. The old ways of war had to change. But what did that mean? Now more than ten years later, we should be able to ask and answer (at least in part) the question: How did 9/11 change our ways of war?

Our approach to answer this question is holistic. Rather than examine our responses to the wars on terror through a single lens, looking only at strategic choices made, tactics employed, or mobilization plans, we employ multiple theories and methods, across a range of concerns, expecting to learn more from an examination of the whole than we could learn from examining the parts alone. Moreover, we assume that the wars on terror do not only challenge our military capabilities. They also challenge our commitments . . .

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