(10 am – promoted by ek hornbeck)
Rand Corporation has recently published a report which concludes that terrorist groups rarely cease to exist as a result of winning or losing a military campaign. To me it is mind-boggling that it took Rand, or anyone else, 8 years to come to this conclusion. Now the damage has been done. Hundreds of billions of dollars wasted, over a million lives lost, millions of people displaced, destruction of property and in the end we’ve only created more “terrorists” which in turn could be used as a pretext to continue the GWOT.
By analyzing a comprehensive roster of terrorist groups that existed worldwide between 1968 and 2006, the authors found that most groups ended because of operations carried out by local police or intelligence agencies or because they negotiated a settlement with their governments. Military force was rarely the primary reason a terrorist group ended, and few groups within this time frame achieved victory.
These findings suggest that the U.S. approach to countering al Qa’ida has focused far too much on the use of military force. Instead, policing and intelligence should be the backbone of U.S. efforts.
Before moving on with this diary I’d like to point out that despite propaganda from the Bush Administration, the invasion and occupation of Iraq had little to do with terrorism. Let’s not confuse ourselves on this issue. The pretexts used by the Bush Administration for the war in Iraq have been debunked.
The pie chart at right, as published in the Rand report, shows how 268 terrorist groups worldwide were ended during the period studied, from 1968 to 2006. 83% ended as a result of political settlements and policing. Only 7% were ended by the use of military force and 10% were ended by “victory”.
In summarizing, the Rand Corporation authors conclude that “… policing and intelligence, rather than military force, should form the backbone of U.S. efforts against al Qaeda. And, U.S. policymakers should end the use of the phrase “war on terrorism” since there is no battlefield solution to defeating al Qaeda.”
Former CIA officer Marc Sageman argued this point in his book Leaderless Jihad, published early this year. His advice to US policy makers was to “Jettison the rhetoric about Muslim extremism … and reduce the U.S. military footprint in Iraq, which fuels the Muslim world’s sense of moral outrage“.
So, one might wonder, what about Iraq? What about Afghanistan? Where do we go from here?
Senator Obama, the presumed Democratic presidential candidate, has said that he wants to withdraw all US combat troops from Iraq within about 16 months. It should be noted that if all “combat” troops are withdrawn from Iraq, many support troops and contractors would likely remain. At least I have seen no mention of plans for their withdrawal. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki began making it increasingly clear that he wants a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops. Even President Bush has said that he would agree to a “time horizon” for a US troop withdrawal.
The neo-con faction and their boosters in the establishment media – Max Boot, Charles Krauthammer, The Wall Street Journal and Dick Cheney’s favorite Middle-East historian, Bernard Lewis, are fighting back. The neo-cons (and John McCain) fear that the US could lose Iraq as a base from which to project its military power in the region, while using the pretext of a war on terror to justify it.
The Wall Street Journal in an editorial on 9 July reacting to al Maliki’s visit to the United Arab Emirates on 7 July where he stated that his goal was “terminating the foreign presence on Iraqi lands and restoring full sovereignty [to Iraq]” had this to say:
Our view is that Iraq and Mr. Maliki would benefit from striking a security agreement this year while Mr. Bush is still in office.
And that…it would improve regional stability by giving the U.S. a presence in the heart of the Middle East that would deter foreign intervention. This is the kind of strategic benefit that the next Administration should try to consolidate in Iraq after the hard-earned progress of the last year.
The Journal suggested that the talk about withdrawal emanating from Iraq is just a lot of nonsense and that, with the exception of the Sadrists, all of Iraq’s main political factions want the U.S. to remain in Iraq.
Then there is Max Boot who writes in an op-ed in the Washington Post that US forces will need to remain in Iraq for years to “nurture this embattled democracy… and to protect our own interests in the region.
And we have the predictable Charles Krauthammer, in another Washington Post op-ed telling us why the US needs to have a military base in Iraq … “in seizing the fruits of victory and “make the new Iraq a strong ally in the war on terror … and project American power regionally…”
This should make it clear that the invasion and occupation of Iraq had little, if anything, to do with “fighting terrorism”.
As for Afghanistan, where Senator Obama says he will deploy additional US troops, I hope that in light of the Rand Report that he will reconsider this option. It is not going to accomplish anything with respect to “fighting terrorism”, if fighting terrorism is indeed our strategic goal in occupying Afghanistan.