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
- 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
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
- climate change,
- competition over resources,
- socio-economic marginalisation,
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
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
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
- 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
"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."
2) The report's authors are available for interview
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
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.
Other comments on the
"This new report argues very persuasively and cogently that the war against
terrorism has been a near-term distraction from a set of more fundamental,
long-term issues that seriously threaten the future well-being of the globe. If
this report can encourage even a few policy-makers to shift their focus from
tactics that win elections to solutions that benefit society, it will have
served a very useful purpose indeed."
Professor Jack Mendelsohn, US
Department of State (1963-85); Professor of National Security Affairs, US Naval
"An important, profound, up-to-date report that provides the background to
elaborate a serious multilateral and global peace and security policy. A must
Dr. Mariano Aguirre, Co-director, Fundación
para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior (FRIDE),
"The post 9/11 mainstream security discourse has run on three myths: that
terrorism has no causes worth discussing, that terrorism is only
non-governmental, and that the 'war on terror' should be given priority over all
other global challenges. With a wealth of facts and solid arguments, this report
debunks these myths and tells how urgent it is that governments and civil
society re-think and widen security concepts as well as
Dr. Jan Oberg, Director, Transnational Foundation for
Peace and Future Research (TFF), Sweden
"A serious, profound, thought-provoking report. This valuable study will
greatly benefit the common efforts to build a better world."
Qiang, Secretary General, Chinese People's Association for Peace and Disarmament
"Essential reading and reference for anyone concerned with turning the
world away from its current disastrous path. Not only does this report show
clearly the full picture of the interrelated problems we face, it offers a
bracing prescription for how we can change course towards a more secure
Janet Bloomfield, British Coordinator, Atomic Mirror; Chair,
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (1993-96)
"A truly inspirational report. It blows an overdue gust of wise analysis
and well-reasoned argument through the counterproductive and self-serving
US-driven response to the current world disorder. The younger generation in
particular desperately need its imaginative and hopeful ideas for sustainable
alternative security strategies."
Commander Robert Green, Disarmament
and Security Centre, New Zealand Peace Foundation
"In this report the authors have examined threats to peace and security
from a perspective which seeks to remove these threats and create a world of
sustainable security for all. The core issues discussed, and their
interconnectedness are extremely important to consider and to consider now,
while there is still time and opportunity to address them. The recommendations
provided in this report must be taken seriously."
Secretary General, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom