The Sunday Magazine

Paul Rogers: We won't defeat ISIS without a dramatic change in tactics

In his latest book, Paul Rogers, Professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University, argues that the West has completely bungled its response to radical Islam.
An Iraqi soldier stands next to a wall with a red cross above a slogan of the Islamic State (IS) group, on September 4, 2016 in the city of Fallujah. Iraq's security forces have for months been battling IS fighters in Anbar province, notching up key victories in provincial Ramadi and jihadist bastion Fallujah earlier this year. (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)

We are now fifteen years into the global "War on Terror."

It has led to the ousting of regimes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, and to the detainment or deaths of thousands of Islamist militants — along with a lot of their leaders. 

It has also cost trillions of dollars and led to the deaths of at least 250,000 people — mostly civilians — many times more than the number of people who died on 9/11. That number doesn't include the hundreds of thousands who were injured, and the millions who were displaced. 

The War on Terror also played a part in the creation of ISIS, and in alienating and radicalizing people in the West and in the Muslim world. 

What the War on Terror has not done is defeat terrorism. That might be because it has been prosecuted like a normal war, deploying tremendous military force to vanquish a foe.
Paul Rogers, Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford and Global Security Consultant to Oxford Research Group. (Submitted by Paul Rogers)

Paul Rogers says the kind of war we're engaged in against ISIS is an irregular war — one which cannot be won with sheer military might, technological superiority or strategic cunning.

And, he argues, irregular wars are the the kinds of wars we will find ourselves mired in through the decades ahead if we don't change our approach to fighting — and preventing — them.

Paul Rogers is a Professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University in the UK and the International Security Editor for the website openDemocracy, as well as a regular guest on The Sunday Edition. His most recent book is called Irregular War: ISIS and the New Threat from the Margins.

Click the button above to hear Michael Enright's conversation with Paul Rogers. 


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