Blending 'soft' approach and conventional methods best way to counter terror, prof argues

Putting down on paper a vivid description of what might happen if terrorists ever launched an attack on the Windsor-Detroit border is akin to thinking the unthinkable, but totally necessary in order to convince people of the necessity of taking a more holistic approach to counter-terrorism, according to Richard Chasdi.

Richard Chasdi

Richard Chasdi.

In a recent article published by The Huffington Post, the adjunct professor in the university’s political science department described a scenario that occurs in 2015 in which terrorists launch explosive attacks on the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, as well as on Detroit’s Orchestra Hall as a diversionary tactic.

Besides the loss of human life, the article describes the impact of such an attack on the North American economy.

“The Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor tunnel are two of the most critical infrastructure choke points along the American-Canadian border, a border with the largest amount of cross border economic traffic in the world,” the article says.

“Automobiles, trucks, vans and SUV's manufactured in Detroit-Windsor area could not be delivered leading to a massive decline in automotive sales and sales from Big Three supplier companies. Still rebounding from the so-called "Great Recession" of 2008, the ripple effects sent the stock market to its lowest point in seven years and the region's unemployment rate rising.”

The piece goes on to advocate for a blending of hard- and soft-line approaches into counter-terrorism policy. While some targeted militaristic methods of countering terrorism work, governments need to place increased and equal emphasis on building hospitals, schools and other infrastructure in areas of the world that may be threats for potential new terrors cells to develop, Chasdi suggested.

“We know that conventional methods alone are not effective at eliminating terrorism,” he said. “Police and military activity, a lot of these have destruction goals, whether it’s assassinations or bombings. Hard line approaches have a very low rate of return. Soft-line approaches, whether they’re done sequentially or simultaneously, take the wind out of the sails of those who are interested in tit-for-tat responses.”

The author of three books on international relations and counter-terrorism, Chasdi is also an adjunct professor at Wayne State University’s Center for Peace and Conflict Studies and the Center of Academic Excellence in National Security Intelligence Studies.

He’ll appear this afternoon on CJAM 99.1 FM on Research Matters, a weekly talk show that highlights the work of University of Windsor researchers and airs every Thursday at 4:30 p.m.