A Strategy that Empowers Terrorism
America's path to failure
America's military and political strategies for defeating international terrorism have built-in faults. The overall strategy has become a war of adaptation, a policy that favors the terrorists. Incipient failures in the U.S. approach to subdue terrorism have escalated to major strategic blunders and widened the war. Contradictory strategies have diminished cooperation, augmented terrorist ranks and increased the battlefield rather than confining it.
Loss of cooperation for the battle
The United States had the sympathy and cooperation of almost all the world's nations after the September 11 terrorist strike, The strong international support facilitated the U.S. war on terrorism. America's subsequent policies alienated allies, dissipated the cooperation of several major countries including France, Germany and Russia and forced the U.S. to carry the major financial and human burdens in its war on terrorism. A diversion of the war on terrorism to a war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq aggravated these burdens.
The Fault of the War in Iraq
The American administration has admitted that Saddam Hussein's regime:
- did not participate in or support the 9/11 terrorist bombings,
- did not assist Al Qaeda, and
- did not have weapons of mass destruction ready for use.
The administration revised purposes for the attack on Iraq to (1) making the world safer. and (2) extending liberty and democracy to the Moslem world. The military efforts in Iraq:
- Concluded with no strategy for post-war efforts,
- Derailed resources from fighting terrorism to fighting Iraq,
- Changed from an Operation Iraqi Freedom (freeing Iraqis) to an Operation Iron Hammer (attacking Iraqis) that has enraged Iraqis and others in the Arab world,
- Increased terrorism around the world from those who are skeptical of U.S. policies,
- Widened the terrorist battlefield by including Iraq,
- Created an unlikely cooperation between terrorist forces and newly manufactured enemies of the United States, and
- Stimulated new alliances.
Islam is the dominant religion in the Central Asian countries. In each of these countries, Radical Islamic militants have room to maneuver, to regroup and pass between borders to battle lines in the Middle East and even, by a long route, to the western nations. Central Asia is like a balloon for Al Qaeda's adherents. Squeeze them in one area and they'll pop out in another area. Pakistan, the ultimate refuge for Al Qaeda, is home to anti-American elements that could gain access to nuclear weapons. These groups in Pakistan cannot be attacked without the possibility of initiating a worldwide conflagration.
By invading and occupying Iraq, the U.S. extended the battle rather than confined the battle. The extension of the battlefield has spread available resources. It has also provoked fear in most Moslem countries.
The Extension of the Battle
Arab nations, from Morocco to Algeria to Saudi Arabia, have been principal targets of Al Qaeda. The extension of the battle into Iraq, an Arab country, hampers besieged Arab governments in their support of the U.S. war against Radical Islam. To maintain power these nations argue against U.S. stated attempts to "bring democracy and free enterprise" by regime changes. To pacify their populations these nations disassociate themselves from the U.S. attack on Iraq.
Policies of the U.S. and other western nations shaped the Arab world. The sudden recommendation to modify their governments signals to the Arab world that the U.S frames the Arab nations to its own political designs. The Arab world knows it can benefit from democracy. However, its leaders suspect the U.S. promotes democracy as a facade to impose America's values and self-interests upon them, a route to domination. The world can be skeptical of U.S. motives. It took the United States 200 years of border wars, a civil war, end of slavery, constitutional amendments and the 1963 Civil Rights law to achieve democracy. Bush talks of bringing democracy within one year to Iraq and a few years afterwards to tribal and non-industrialized Arab countries.
The stretching of U.S. resources gives advantages to countries that have arguments with the United States. North Korea has acted boldly against American threats. Iran has also proceeded with less caution than previously. New terrorist groups have formed in North Africa and Turkey.
The extension of battle has spurred new alliances. The "trialogue" that has lately stimulated the most interest is between India, China and Russia.
A new"trialogue" - India - China - Russia
The increasing arrangements between the three countries, that had been loosely allied during the beginnings of the Cold War, are described in an article "Beijing-Moscow-New Delhi trialogue" by K.K. Katyal which appeared in India's national newspaper The Hindu, September 22, 2003.
Significant points of this article, which can be accessed at:
(1) The talk of "strategic triangle" gained currency in 1998 during the visit here (ED:India) of the then Russian Prime Minister, Yevgeny Primakov. At the very start of his trip, at the formal reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, he was asked by a correspondent whether Russia favoured this concept. "If we can succeed in establishing a triangle," he replied, "it will be very good."
(2) ..they (ED: India, China and Russia) are faced with similar security environment and tasks and have similar or close positions on many international issues. All of them advocate a multi-polar world and the establishment of a just and fair new international order.
(3) Scholars from the three nations have concluded that "while taking (a) positive stand in relation to the sole superpower, they felt concerned over the dangers of unilateralism and the strategy of pre-emption. Hence their emphasis on active cooperation to promote multipolarity and on steps to democratise international relations."
The lack of focus and the contradictory elements in the U.S. military strategy against international terrorism empowers terrorism and leads America on a path to failure.
A Confused strategy
The U.S. has organized a single strategy to resolve a combination of issues:
- international terrorism,
- autocratic Arab governments, and
- aggressive Islam.
Each of these issues requires a unique approach and lumping them together, as if they are dependent variables, confuses the strategy.
Local rebellions and international terrorism appear in all states, even democratic nations - note Great Britain, Spain, U.S. in the sixties, Germany and Italy in the seventies. International terrorism has religious and economic roots and much of it is emphasized by the Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people.
U.S. military efforts against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan have replaced the former Soviet Union's problem in Afghanistan with a U.S. problem in Afghanistan, not to the same degree, but similar in appearance. The American sponsored Afghan government rules mainly in Kabul. Warlords control much of the country while bandits and anti-government forces roam the countryside. Militants enter from havens in Pakistan and attack American and government forces. Recently, the militants switched to attacking "soft " targets, such as civil administrations. Opium fields dot the countryside and the opium farmers rebel against interference with their livelihood. The conditions of U.S. controlled Afghanistan are similar to those of Soviet controlled Afghanistan.
The U.S. has progressed in destroying Al Qaeda havens in Afghanistan, after having enabled them to be there. The U.S. furnished weapons and logistics support to Radical Islamists in Pakistan to defeat the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The U.S. is now chasing these Radical Islamists back to Pakistan. The U.S. military cannot enter Pakistan without provoking a wider war that could include weapons of mass destruction. Islamic extremists from states surrounding Afghanistan can support Al Qaeda and keep the struggle going for decades. An army without a nation loses people in the struggle. The nation with an army loses the nation. The American administration has not disclosed a long-range plan that resolves its problems in Afghanistan and makes Al Qaeda totally ineffectual.
Replacing autocratic governments
The U.S. attack on Iraq removed a tyrannical Saddam Hussein from power and afterwards encountered problems similar to those encountered by Saddam Hussein. The Iraq leader fought rebellions and killed and imprisoned many Iraqis. The U.S. is fighting a rebellion and killing and imprisoning many Iraqis. American strategists have diverted resources from the war on terrorism to fight a despotic Arab government that contained Radical Islam. The U.S. occupation has opened a Pandora box of enclosed terrorism.
The third aspect of the single minded U.S. policy has the intent to reform an Islam, which the U.S. considers to be aggressive and threatening, and make it placid and acceptable. The faulty premise can be counter-productive.
Make a religion's adherents fear they will lose their cultural and religious identity and they will react aggressively. Portions of the western world are creating that fear and using the response to convince the world that Islam is aggressive. Few of the major Moslem countries have governments ruled by Islamic doctrines - only Iran, Saudi Arabia and possibly Libya. None of these governments are spreading their doctrines outside of their territorial limits. The percentage of Moslems that practice a Fundamentalist Islam and desire to extend it to all Muslims appears to be small, more on the order of Fundamentalist Christians in European countries, less than the Messianic Christianity in the United States. Fundamentalist religion is a worldwide problem. Extreme Islam has much zeal and little political power. Extreme western religions have much zeal, much political influence and some political power.
The U.S. is being dragged into a war against all Islam. Only Israel supports all of the U.S. Middle East policies. Maybe, it's the other way; the U.S. is the only country that totally supports Israel's policies. Israeli strategists have cleverly linked the terrorist actions that result from their oppression of the Palestinian people to America's war on terrorism. Israel has also tried to portray the Palestinian struggle against Israel's oppression as a war between all Arab countries and Israel. Commentary from the extremes of Israel's supporters mirror Al Qaeda's thrust and appeal to the western world to battle against Islam. ( Professor Moshe Sharon: The Agenda of Islam: A War between Civilizations - a Culture War ) The extreme depiction of the Middle East strife, if believed and brought to its fruition, will further polarize societies and lead to the destruction of the Arab world and Israel. America's present policies indicate that it is accepting Israel's propaganda version of events.
America's path to failure
Decades of American policies in the Middle East have obvious results: a continuous escalation in international terrorism, the use of more destructive weapons and increased terrorism against the United States. Since present U.S. policies are continuations of the past, it is predictable that future results will duplicate past performance.
The U.S. definition of events that shape its policies are often contradicted. What the U.S. sees as:
- Terrorism in Palestine, others view as a legitimate rebellion against oppression.
- Legitimate self-interest in the Middle east, others view as capturing the oil.
- Protection of its affairs, others view as interference in other nation's affairs.
- Rhetoric promoting American values, others view as demeaning their culture.
American foreign policy has woven a complicated fabric of measures and countermeasures - based on false propositions - that have reinforced a world of violence. To defeat terrorism and achieve a more peaceful world, the U.S. must unravel the disastrous past policies - no easy task. Unraveling policies considers a more even-handed approach to the Israeli/Palestinian struggle, halting the occupation of Iraq, turning perceived enemies (Cuba, North Korea, Iran) into friends and being more concerned with the American people than with American special interests.
december 1, 2003
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