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Dealing with Terror

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Author: George Lopez
Presentation 03

Dealing with Terror after 9-11

Where are we now?

 

The Bush Administration saw itself having Three major concerns on 9-11:

  • How to guarantee (US) security – that is, no further attacks on US territory and its citizens abroad, and decreasing such possibilities long term;
  • How to respond in a manner consistent with achieving long term security and with the expectations the world will have of a great power under attack;
  • How to set in place new global arrangements which will deal with this – and related – problems

 

Beliefs pretty firmly held by Bush’s inner circle:

  • This form of attack could not have happened without large scale state support
    • rogue states concept
  • This was probably Osama bin Laden and al- Qaeda – it is time to break the network

Suggested readings:

  • Paolucci, H. (2003). Presidential Power and Crisis Government in the Age of Terror. Smyrna, DE: Griffon House.
  • Woodward, B. (2003). Bush at War. Simon & Schuster.
  • 9/11 Commission Report

 

  • We live in a world of radicalisms and hate – but they are a minority and finite number.  We simply need to fight our way through this, defeat these factions, and then more moderate forces will emerge.
  • In this struggle, some critical states need to choose where they want to be (e.g.: Pakistan, Sudan, Libya, Iran…)
  • Our (domestic) vulnerabilities will always be exploited; and, we probably have been naïve and under-prepared

 

  • Our friends should be called on, but this is essentially our fight. 
  • We may need a coalition of support for political reasons, but new military coalitions are less needed
  • Coalitions are less needed, and we don’t need old groups either (i.e. NATO)

This problem (terrorism, new security threats) is unrelated to most other global issues, and not as related to (as bin Laden and other states claim):

    • The position of the US military in Arab states
    • The Palestinian-Israeli conflict
    • Other problems, such as despotic leadership (and US support of such) in the Arab world
    • The crisis of economic development or cultural globalization as related to despotic wealth in the resource rich areas of the Arab world

In other words, these are the Bush Administration’s earliest assessments, to which they clung for most of their Presidency (2001-2006)

 

As a result,

  • The US refocuses on bin Laden as the bad guy. And he is not seen as a new threat. The US knows that he masterminded:

Suggested Readings/References:

  • 9-11 Commission Report
  • Coll, Steve. 2004. Ghost wars: the secret history of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet invasion. New York: Penguin Press.

While not well articulated as models to the fullest extent, what the Bush Administration has before itself is a choice between the:

War Model vs. International Criminal Model

 

Models: War vs. International Criminal

Guarantee Security Operate in the world of states as controllers  Operate to shut down a network with allies, UN 
 Respond as a Great Power Singular use of force and political power  Longer, multi-faceted effort, a military 'plus'
 Set in place new arrangements Military bases & allies; security cooperation   Carrots, sticks, & a complex array of actions


 
Why the War Model wins

  • Singular control for a singular situation, plus ‘we do war well’
  • War mobilization works well in foreign & domestic affairs
  • Past efforts that were less than war and more law-criminal focused are judged by the Bush Administration to have failed. The current assessment is that these terrorists have networks that are fuller and deeper --> only a full scale response will work.
  • In recent think tank reports analyzing US preparedness against foreign attack there were scenarios for a ‘Pearl Harbor’- like event - the opportunities and constraints this mind-frame provided.

 

Why War Model wins (contd.)

  • Coalition war in a NATO or UN framework would invariably lead to compromise – too many unknowns in this unprecedented situation
  • You can still accomplish a social & economic crackdown on terror networks within a war model of counter-terrorism
  • International rules vary and take time to develop (e.g. on how to put together an international ‘posse’) & it will invariably lead to constraining us.

 

What is the problem with the War Model winning, especially since we appear to be winning the war?
 

Are we winning the war militarily against al-Qaeda?

  • Moderate to good gains regarding leaders captured or killed – estimates range from 50-75% of al-Qaeda leadership
  • Probably 70% of the ‘rank and file’ in Afghanistan captured or killed. But dispersion and hiding likely are high. Posse cooperation has been low to midrange with the exception of NATO takeover of US’s role in Afghanistan, though the Taliban resurgence is not allowing the country to recover fast enough. 
  • Iraq serves as an attraction for jihadist terrorists wanting real training and ideological rationale.

 

Are we winning the war militarily against al-Qaeda? (contd.)

  • But the safe haven provided by the Taliban is gone. Pakistan and others have provided high levels of cooperation – intermittently.
  • Assets and persons have been locked down in record number.
  • Europeans may have made the greatest inroads in catching and convicting – but they faced their own ‘homegrown’ terrorists (the Madrid 2004 & London 2005 bombings)

 

But…

  • After ‘victory’ came the dilemma of Afghanistan as a city-state; as a warlord state; as a dependent state
  • Then comes (in 2005) the rekindling of the Taliban & new ‘war’
  • It is forever open-ended…criteria of victory specified by whom? When?
  • The diplomacy may have given way to only military effort
  • The two top al-Qaeda leaders are still at large
  • Do we want a permanent war economy?
  • Do we want a permanent war society?
  • How do we discuss and decide the importance of each?

 

Some specific advantages of the International Criminal Model:

  • The Int. Criminal Model did not exclude military response, but would have sent the posse after the criminals – first al-Qaeda, then maybe the Taliban
  • Other nations can join and leave a posse easier than a war (e.g. without sending major political signals that can be successfully manipulated by terrorists) and they can have gradations of involvement
     

Some specific advantages of the International Criminal Model: (contd.)

  • Int. Criminal Model may at first seem more adventurous and open ended to skeptical others, so it may risk even greater protest than war
  • Int. Criminal Model may permit states to be more selective on their choice of future targets, and/or allies for a future posse
  • Int. Criminal Model may be more adaptable to the real adaptations going on in the target
  • Int. Criminal Model less likely to be hijacked as a foreign policy theme by others  (e.g.: Israel, Indonesia, Burma/Myanmar, Russia)
  • Int. Criminal Model more likely to have consistent international and UN support
    States can always escalate to use of war force if security was jeopardized while following an Int. Criminal Model
  • Int. Criminal Model involves better international arrangements for the treatment of lots of individuals who are captured

 

Responding to current Foreign policy problems/failures

  • Need To recognize that it is more than safe havens for terrorists at issue. “Failed” states & states consistently resisting internal change are different phenomena with distinct solutions.
  • The real key may be to control the finances, thus Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1373 & 1535 and Executive Order 13224
  • The other key is to control WMD technology
  • To rethink the relationship between radicalism, participation, and governance in Islamic countries: how to respond to the free elections of an Islamic fundamentalist government?
  • To understand the dynamic relationship between poverty, pain, recruitment and the use of these by others  even when you win militarily, you end up losing, as we grow more hate and help recruit/activate more in these terror networks by our actions in third areas: Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan…
  • Or – said differently – the query is “why might we be hate-able?” NOT “why do they hate US?”
  • Now we might look at the world through the eyes of the “on the fence” Saudi, Egyptian, Yemeni 16 yr old males: who do they want to be for – George Bush or Osama?
  • Need to develop a more sophisticated policy to deal with the interpretation of our actions that sees Western actions as a constant humiliation and threat for non-Westerners.
  • Think about all of this as you see the movies/specials

 

Link between the War Model and what the US now thinks

  • What happened is partly related to US’s  unwillingness to assert the unilateral advantages we had militarily (inconsistent with concern about being overly involved internationally – also a war trap – i.e. ‘go alone, sink alone’)

 

Linking: War Model <--> current US thinking

  • A new threshold has been crossed on attacks against the US and civilian deaths – i.e. really bad actors don’t play by the rules, maybe we should not be so constrained as well (‘an eye for a eye’ type policy --> review Nuclear Posture – back to the future…use of mini-nukes)
  • With the exception of Britain, we have inconsistent friends, but it is also true we need them ‘only’ for political, social and financial cooperation
  • This means we are probably correct to avoid the internationalist tendencies to join an international criminal court (ICC), control biological weapons, etc.
  • This movement has changed as our response has succeeded; so we are dealing with a decentralized al-Qaeda

 

The new security challenge:

WMDs + terrorists + rogue states  =  disaster for the West

  • This should have been a key foreign policy debate in fall 2004, but we got it only at the edges: the general war on terror (GWOT) and Iraq.

 

Emergence of new Ethics of world affairs:

NY city & DC are (and will be) fundamentally different politically and ethically than anywhere else because of having directly experienced grand-scale terrorism and being the seats of power (economic & political)

  • It is more of a world of tough, dirty and nasty trends than others led us to believe: the weak can get eaten --> to hold our freedom demands strength
  • the lesson of bin Laden is to deal with Saddam: bad problems come back to bite you

 

Emergence of new Ethics of world affairs (contd.)

  • We are individually responsible for our own security – it can be a lonely world
  • Responsible leaders may need to take pre-emptive action
  • We can understand why others choose not to act – thus we have a ‘Dirty Harry’ ethics (at the end of the day, France, Germany, etc. can critique us all they want, but when we’re done with dealing with this, they’ll thank us for doing their dirty job of protecting the system)

 

The new challenges for citizens:

  • Are the facts and trends sufficiently clear to lead to only one policy?
  • Even in a world of contested facts (GWOT or SAE – struggle against ethics), are the new ethics (i.e. Dirty Harry) really warranted?
  • How to engage in a new national citizen dialogue about our goals, means and the ethics in a vibrant, affirmative manner?

 

The challenges fall into three sectors:

  • The media and press
  • The universities
  • The church and religious communities

 

Can we at this point -

  • be more critically reflective – and revising  – of our own views and actions;
  • have a greater sense of the way that others view the world?
  • engage in a vibrant and democratic dialogue about where the war on terror and its related action(s) now goes? 

 

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