The National Interest remains of my favorite international affairs magazines. Although there are several authors that I do not like or necessarily agree with, the majority of the content is usually one of high quality and diverse views.
However, the magazine has started a recent series of articles that could be simplified to “top 5 (insert topic here) in history/the world” or “top 5 weapons that (Insert country here) possesses that (insert country here) should fear.” Although writing some of the articles every once in a while can be interesting, the recent surge of these articles have created some articles that do not meet the usual quality at TNI.
Take for example one of the recent additions to the slew of articles is “The 5 Deadliest Terrorist Groups on the Planet“. As the author, Daneil DePetris, notes at the very beginning that although you are more likely to be killed by other things (like lightning) instead of terrorism, the issue remains important. The terrorist groups chosen are the five deadliest terrorism groups operating today. Except, the author never specifies his methodology in creating the list. How is deadliest defined? Is it the amount of casualties the organization has inflicted? The capabilities of the organization? Also how is terrorism defined? Although the majority of the groups listed would fit the standard definition of terrorism (i.e. a non-state actor that spreads terror (like attacking civilians) in order to achieve a political, ideological, and or religious goal). Yet, he decides to label Iran’s revolutionary guard as a terrorist group. Yes the organization does aid groups that are considered terrorist organizations. But it is actually part of the Iranian government, not a non-state actor. Although one can argue that the actions by governments constitute terrorism, the author does not take the time to define it.
So the inclusion of the Iranian revolutionary guards is questionable. What about the other organizations listed?
While ISIS is a no brainer, the other groups are very contestable. Yes Boko Haram remains a dangerous organization, Al Shabaab is also a serious threat, one that is arguably as dangerous (if not more so) than Boko Haram. The same goes for the Haqqani Network. Lashkar e Taiba has been able to conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan, has been found in Iraq, as well as maintaining a network throughout most of South Asia. The fact that Kata’ib Hezbollah is on the list while the original Hezbollah is not is a complete joke. Hezbollah is the most powerful force in Lebanon, is the only Arab fighting force to obtain a victory over Israel (the 2006 war), is gaining additional fighting experience in Syria, and has conducted attacks worldwide. Hezbollah has long been considered on of the most effective terrorist organizations in the world. The fact that Kata’ib Hezbollah is on the list and Hezbollah isn’t is completely ridiculous.
I still enjoy reading TNI, but this recent slew of articles making these silly lists is just becoming a little bit too much.