Task one: securing energy, hard power first
In order to secure the energy sector, the EU and US must cooperate on various fronts: (i) energy traffic – infrastructural protection; (ii) energy supply chain – cooperation; (iii) internal markets – harmonization of storage systems.
In the words of al-Qaeda spokesmen, energy is "the provision line and the feeding artery of the life of the crusader nation." Owing that 80M barrels of oil are used per day and that spare production capacity is in continuous erosion, the oil market constitutes the most strategic target for paralysing the overall economy. As a result, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has warned that "terrorists are looking for opportunities to impact the world economy" by targeting energy infrastructure. In recent years, terrorists have targeted pipelines, refineries, and tankers in the world's most important energy reservoirs, such as Iraq, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.
In order to fight the terrorist threat posed to the energy traffic, three policy-oriented requirements must be fulfilled: (i) securing principal energy fluxes; (ii) reinforcing military-security cooperation with exporting countries; (iii) developing protection means by off-shoring construction of pipelines resistant to attacks and setting alternative ways of bypassing conflict-prone zones (e.g. the Kra Isthmus in Thailand and the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline between the Caspian and Mediterranean seas).
In order to secure the energy supply chain, the EU and US must foster a comprehensive, proactive and co-operative approach with their partners. The EU should conclude free-exchange agreements with the Arab countries of the Gulf, while receiving the green light from the US. In this line, improved local participation in the energy sector is vital. A recent change in personnel in charge of the Petroleum sector in Nigeria, for instance, put locals at the helm, effectively making the Nigerian energy sector less prone to terrorism.
Energy must be secured also by looking inward, through securing internal markets and by replacing imported energy with next-generation energy derived from domestic energy resources. Until now, the construction of an internal energy market within both the EU and the US has proven to be defective. Indeed, the European Council of Barcelona has failed to engage competition by implementing ownership unbundling.
The EU and US must securitize their markets by harmonizing the national systems of storage through the creation of a public organism of storage jointly administered by the private sector, and by imposing an observation system of supply. For example, owing that over 43% of the total US oil refining capacity is clustered along the Texas and Louisiana coasts, strong air and satellite surveillance is needed to counter terrorist attacks. By mobilizing domestic capital and infrastructure, both the EU and the US will be no longer as dependent on exogenous suppliers and as vulnerable.
Task two: responding to terrorism, soft power first
In order to fight terrorism, one must: (i) adopt an indirect approach, since terrorism is ubiquitous and (ii) unbalance adversaries by deconstructing the continuum of the terrorist logic.
Security mirrors a culture’s will to project its identity. This projection has been the key factor governing the anti-terrorist response of the EU and US, and goes a long way to explain its ineffectiveness. One form of riposte to terrorism has been preventive and pre-emptive “just wars.” These forms of force respond to an asymmetric and discriminatory definition of international law and to an autistic and egotistical understanding of security.
First, by implementing multilateralism and by deconstructing the continuum of the terrorist logic, the anti-terrorist response will become viable: multilateralism is the positive peace, while deconstruction is the negative peace. Second, deception can be used. Indeed, deception offers the advantage of its cheapness and is a conscious and rational effort deliberately used to mislead the opponent. Lastly, one must bear in mind that terrorists themselves are strongly dependent upon energy supplies. As long as terrorist groups are prevented from securing their own energy reserves, their attacks will remain "façade" attacks, aiming only to increase paranoia and pressure.
Alexandra Dobra is a master student at Cambridge University. She is editor for Politikon IAPSS, IPSA, Chapter Chair and Founder for The Transatlantic, Council Board Member for Gerson Leherman and Redactor for ResPublica Nova, ENS.