Democracy Arsenal

« Patience on Iraq's Constitution | Main | The Perfect Task For John Bolton »

July 31, 2005

10 things that matter more to the fight against terror than a new acronym
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

Anne-Marie Slaughter at America Abroad, Fred Kaplan on Slate, Sid Blumenthal on Salon and the mainstream media have been buzzing this week about President Bush's pivot away from the language of Global War on Terror (GWOT) and toward the so-called Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism, aka GSAVE. 

For the record, led by Derek Chollet, we here at DA were writing about this months ago, opining here and here about what was - until Madison Avenue had its way - known as the Global War on Extremism (I personally think we all ought to stick with the Elmer Fuddish but factual GWOE rather than buying into the boosterist GSAVE).

Most commentators judge the rebranding of the fight against terror to be more politics than substance.  So, in a month of dastardly attacks from London to Sharm el Sheikh to Baghdad,  let's not let this bit of spin doctoring obscure all that needs to be done to shore up an anti-terror fight that is targetting an ever more complex, and constantly changing enemy.  Here are 10 priorities:

1. Wage the War of Ideas in Earnest - The Administration has until now resisted calling the war on terror is a fight over values and purposes.  That ideas play a role is, after all, potentially in tension with the view of Islamic terrorists as nihilistic and devoid of reason.  But while the core of extremist terrorist groups may be a fanaticism too deep and immutable to be tackled with reason, beliefs and viewpoints certainly do matter in the outer spokes of terrorist support networks, to the ordinary people who either grant or deny terrorists the funds, political support and safe harbor they need to operate.  These are the people we need to appeal to and pry away from their terrorist sympathies.

2. Recognize that U.S. Soldiers and Prison Guards are the Frontlines of Public Diplomacy - In waging a battle over ideas and perceptions among ordinary populations, what we do matters more than what we say.  Like it or not, our military, our prison guards, and our private contractors are on the frontlines of public diplomacy.  They do us proud much of the time, but the lapses that have occurred - some more than accidental - have hurt us badly by playing right into the worst fears and misperceptions about the United States.  But the Administration remains in denial on this score.

3. Get Politics Out of Homeland Security - The shameless pork-barrelling of this month's Homeland Security budget dealt a blow to the anti-terror efforts.  Whereas the 9/11 Commission and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff made a compelling case that funds be strictly apportioned on the basis of threats, the Senate decided on its own formula that shortchanges New York, California, and our ports and nuclear facilities for the benefit of unlikely terrorist targets like Wyoming, Idaho and Maine.

4. Put Forward A Clear Strategy For Iraq - Without a strategy to achieve U.S. goals in Iraq, no matter what we call the fight against terrorism, many Americans will fear that we are losing on the most important front.  This is not because we are fighting terrorists in Iraq to avoid fighting them here.  Rather, inadequate planning, a shaky justification for war, and inadequate global support have enabled America's enemies to use the struggling Iraq effort as a rallying cry for terrorist recruitment.   Bush claims to be committed to seeing Iraq through to stability, yet this week's talk is of a pullout.    More on what needs to be done here and here.

5.            Refocus on Counter-Proliferation - Everyone agrees that the gravest terrorist danger is that posed by a nuclear weapon in terrorist hands.  Yet as Peter Scoblic writes in the latest New Republic (tip to Matthew Yglesias) the Bush Administration is doing a dismal job responding to this threat.  To encapsulate, the Administration's focus on countries' intentions (good or evil) has eclipsed efforts to hold in check their capabilities, with the result that while we've deliberated over the potential for regime change in places like North Korea and Iran, they've continued to build their nuclear capabilities unfettered by the flawed non-pro regimes that Bush has done little to try to improve.

6. Expedite Intelligence Sharing - Nearly four years since 9/11, though every commission, committee and task force that has looked at the attacks  has cited the pressing need to improve intelligence cooperation between the U.S. sand its allies, tangible progress on this front remains surprisingly thin.  Cooperation is one-sided, ad hoc, and hampered by overly restrictive rules regarding secrecy.   The more time that goes by before these problems are solved, the greater the danger of future successful attacks.

7. Shore Up the Expertise Needed In U.S. Intelligence Operations - Another important intelligence shortcoming oft-cited since 9/11 is the paucity of experts in the languages and cultures essential to understanding Islamic extremism and its political reach.  Here too, despite scores of studies and recommendations pointing to the problem, little has been done to address it.  Instead, security procedures and rigid entrance requirements (for example the stricture that all new recruits must be aged 35 and under) have led the CIA to turn away scores of otherwise qualified experts in Arabic, Pashtu and Farsi.


8.          Reorganize Congress to Better Execute a Counter-Terror Agenda - One of the key but still unimplemented recommendations of the 9/11 Commission was to reorganize Congressional oversight over national intelligence.   Doing so would help ensure more informed Congressional involvement in counter-terrorism, minimize the chances of key intelligence and defense priorities being pitted against one another, and ensure more thorough evaluation of sensitive intelligence estimates.  The 9/11 commissioners are still pushing for action on this score.


9. Rebuild a Truly Global Anti-Terror Coalition - Since 9/11 the breadth of international support for U.S. anti-terror efforts has waned, because of Iraq and also out of a sense in regions including Asia and Latin America that the fight against terror has come at the expense of other priorities.  The counter-terrorism apparatus set up at the UN - the only organization capable of legislating anti-terror measures applicable to virtually all states - have been largely overlooked.    The upcoming UN Summit in September, and the anti-terror convention on the table there, will be a good chance to shore up wider support.

10.        Don't Patronize the American People - After being misled into war on Iraq and witnessing American foreign policy, federal spending, and daily life be upended by the war on terror, the American people deserve better than a flat-footed rebranding exercise aimed to distracdt from serious shortcomings of policy and execution.   Steps to make the fight against terrorism more effective are necessary and would be welcomed.  Efforts to divert attention from its failures of conception and execution will be recognized as a crass attempt to change the subject, something which - given the magnitude of the continuing threat - the U.S. cannot afford.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference 10 things that matter more to the fight against terror than a new acronym:

» Eyes on the ball, now from Stygius
The rebranding of the Global War on Terror/ism was overdue, histrionic *the irony of it alls* aside. Steve Inskeep did a fun little geneaology of the phrase recently, but anyone reading prak-tike and nadezhda these past months merely shrugged their sho... [Read More]


Credit where credit is due. Afraid that Praktike had you all beat on noting the administration's new lingo by a month or so. Check out his post here

I am sure you are right - - but where is the post?

An excellent list, and so true that the name change is the crassest attempt at diversion. They are hoping the war on terror will just disappear into the night so they can focus on more tax cuts.

runescape money runescape gold runescape money runescape gold wow power leveling wow powerleveling Warcraft Power Leveling Warcraft PowerLeveling buy runescape gold buy runescape money runescape items runescape gold runescape money runescape accounts runescape gp dofus kamas buy dofus kamas Guild Wars Gold buy Guild Wars Gold runescape accounts buy runescape accounts runescape lotro gold buy lotro gold lotro gold buy lotro gold lotro gold buy lotro gold lotro gold buy lotro goldrunescape money runescape power leveling runescape money runescape gold dofus kamas cheap runescape money cheap runescape gold Hellgate Palladium Hellgate London Palladium Hellgate money Tabula Rasa gold tabula rasa money Tabula Rasa Credit
Tabula Rasa Credits Hellgate gold Hellgate London gold

thanks for your sharing.Good

Lingerie Wholesale
Sexy Lingerie Wholesale
Leather/PVC Lingerie
Christmas Lingerie

Lingerie Wholesale
Sexy Lingerie Wholesale
Leather/PVC Lingerie
Christmas Lingerie

An excellent list, and so true that the name change is the crassest attempt at diversion. They are hoping the war on terror will just disappear into the night so they can focus on more tax cuts

I am so with you,rolex watch
luxury watch

Thank you for your sharing.! seslichat seslisohbet

The comments to this entry are closed.

Sign-up to receive a weekly digest of the latest posts from Democracy Arsenal.
Powered by TypePad


The opinions voiced on Democracy Arsenal are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of any other organization or institution with which any author may be affiliated.
Read Terms of Use