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New approach to 'war on terror' revealed in study

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has endorsed calls from one of Britain’s leading think tanks for a new approach to global security and, in particular, the ‘war on terror’.

Commenting on the release of a major new study from Oxford Research Group (ORG), the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said: “This incisive study is radical in the proper sense; it penetrates beneath the surface of the debate in the West over its security to demonstrate that the real threat to global peace and stability lies in our failure to recognise our interdependence – that the well-being of the privileged depends on the well-being of the marginalised.”

The study, ‘Beyond Terror: The Truth about the Real Threats to Our World’, is co-authored by Paul Rogers, Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford. It demonstrates that the fundamental threats to world stability do not come from international terrorism – as many world leaders would have us believe – but from four interrelated, and far more dangerous, trends:

1) Climate change - Displacement of peoples, severe natural disasters and food shortages, leading to much higher levels of migration, increased human suffering and greater social unrest.

2) Competition over resources - Competition for increasingly scarce resources, especially from unstable parts of the world – such as oil from the Persian Gulf.

3) Marginalisation of the majority world - Increasing socio-economic divisions and the marginalisation of the vast majority of the world’s population.

4) Global militarisation - The increased use of military force and the further spread of military technologies (including weapons of WMD).

The authors conclude that the ongoing ‘war on terror’ and, in particular, the war in Iraq are actually increasing, rather than decreasing, the likelihood of future terrorist attacks on the scale of 9/11. Furthermore, despite recent efforts to combat climate change, governments are still focussed on international terrorism and are not recognising the genuine threats to security; in fact, things are moving in a worryingly counter-productive direction.

Co-author Paul Rogers explains: “The fact that there is an increasingly marginalised majority living in an environmentally constrained world, where military force is more likely to be used for control, presents an obvious danger.

“Add to this the devastating effects of climate change, and we are looking at a highly unstable global system by the middle years of the century. That is unless urgent action is taken now.”

The study argues that even when judged by its own standards the current US/UK-led approach to global security and the ‘war on terror’ is clearly failing. This failing is because the current approach – what the authors refer to as the “control paradigm” – is premised on an attempt to maintain the status quo through military means and “keeping the lid on” insecurity without addressing the root causes.

In response, the authors promote a new system of “sustainable security”, which does not attempt to control threats unilaterally through the use of force, but rather aims to resolve co-operatively the root causes of those threats using the most effective means available. In this way, sustainable security is inherently preventative, in that it addresses the likely causes of conflict and instability well before the ill-effects are felt.

Importantly, ‘Beyond Terror’ outlines what can actually be done by ordinary people to address the identified threats. Commenting today at the launch of the book, Professor Rogers said: “Unlike many security studies, which focus almost exclusively on the role of governments and the military, this report also shows that ordinary people can, and must, make a difference. It is up to all of us – governments, civil society and ordinary individuals.”

Study gains wide-ranging support

In addition to Archbishop Tutu, the study has been endorsed by a wide range of NGO leaders, politicians and journalists, as well as other public figures, such as The Body Shop founder Anita Roddick – who called the study “outstanding” – and musician and campaigner Brian Eno, who said: “This brilliant and lucid book is the single most important contribution to understanding and coping with the future that I have ever read.”

Lord Garden (former Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff) and HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan have also added their backing to the study. Prince Hassan commented: "A true, balanced commitment to the future of our planet can only benefit from a thorough examination of, and frequent reference to, this important document. At every level of decision-making, all policy-makers should have a copy of this study on their desk."

‘Beyond Terror: The Truth about the Real Threats to our World’ is written by Chris Abbott, Paul Rogers and John Sloboda, and published by Random House on their Rider list. Available now from all good bookshops, priced £4.99.

Paul Rogers is Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford and
Global Security Consultant to Oxford Research Group. He lives in Kirkburton, near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.

Emma Banks | alfa
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