LONDON (AFP) – The US-led “war on terror” is increasing the risk of terrorist attacks and distracting governments from greater threats to global security such as climate change, a think-tank warned in a report.
The Oxford Research Group urged countries, especially the United States and Britain, to rethink their security policies to counter future instability.
“The war on terror is a dangerous diversion and prevents the international community from responding effectively to the most likely causes of future conflict,” a press statement about the report said.
The US and British governments insist there is no alternative, but “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 not less likely,” it said.
The report, “Global Responses to Global Threats: Sustainable Security for the 21st Century”, was referring to the September 11, 2001 suicide aircraft hijackings in the United States, the Spanish train bombings on March 11, 2004 and the London suicide attacks on July 7 last year.
Instead of terrorism, the report cited climate change; competition over resources; socio-economic marginalisation and global militarisation as the main threats to peace and the likely causes of future conflict.
These issues “are far more important than the current focus on the ‘war on terror'”, the authors of the 18-month study concluded.
“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,” the report found.
It noted that the war in Iraq has entered its fourth year and the conflict in Afghanistan is moving into its sixth year.
“Yet both countries are increasingly unstable and violent, while the Al-Qaeda movement is as active as ever,” the authors of the report said.
They urged Washington and London in particular to revise their security outlook within the next five years to avoid a “highly unstable global system” by the middle of the century.
At present, governments were attempting to maintain the status quo through military force without addressing the root cause of the problems.
The report argued that “such security policies are self-defeating in the long-term and so a new approach is urgently needed.”
It suggested a different strategy focused on addressing the fundamental issues that create instability:
— Renewable energy and conservation to counter climate change;
— energy efficiency to combat resource competition;
— poverty reduction programmes to defeat marginalisation; and
— halting development of weapons of mass destruction to stop global militarisation.
“These provide the best chance of averting global disaster as well as addressing some of the root causes of terrorism,” the research group said.