Monthly Archives: July 2008
In Stephanie’s answer to the second prompt, she writes: “It is time to put the myth of the pre-9/11 mindset to rest” with which I think I mostly concur–save with some reservations about the level of attention both the Clinton and early Bush Administration paid to the growing al-Qaeda threat, but she then nonetheless writes: “For other segments, namely the vanguard in Afghanistan/Pakistan, the military has and will continue to play a leading role in containing and reducing the jihadist threat”.
I was curious who the “vanguard” is? Are we speaking of UBL and Zawahiri? If so, why would the military necessarily be best positioned to deal with them? I suspect many of the most precious high-value targets (think [9-11 mastermind] Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was apprehended in Rawalpindi by the [Pakistani Intelligence Service], I believe with some CIA involvement) could well be hiding in major cities like Karachi or Peshawar (perhaps in even more fantastical disguises than Radovan Karadzic’s!), rather than the badlands of South Waziristan. And even if there, wouldn’t highly focused counter-intelligence efforts–backed up by discrete military action as/if necessary–be the best way to locate and capture these terrorists?
I agree with Matt that the notion that U.S. counterterrorism policy is largely under the purview of the military is a false one. It relates, I think, to the partisan charge that the Democrats possess a “pre-9/11 mindset” when it comes to counterterrorism. Throughout the past seven years, the military has been the public face of U.S. counterterrorism efforts (the consequences of which merit their own discussion thread). But behind the scenes the same-old, pre-9/11 intelligence and law enforcement efforts have been crucial to foiling plots at home and across the globe. The twenty-or-so jihadist plots that have been rolled up since 9/11 came as a result of time-honored police and intelligence work, the success of which was sometimes predicated upon strong international cooperation. It is time to put the myth of the pre-9/11 mindset to rest.
The question is not whether our counter-terrorism strategy should be military or law enforcement centric, but rather how to develop and deploy a truly inter-agency strategy that employs all elements of national power to defeat a transnational adversary operating in an era of globalization.
The military is actively engaged in counter-terrorism, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq where it is fighting wars against asymmetric enemies, but I would dispute the assumption that counter-terrorism responsibility has fallen mainly under the purview of the military. At the same time, while acts of terrorism are themselves criminal activities, employing a counter-terrorism strategy that sees terrorism as more of a law enforcement issue is also off the mark. Both the military and law enforcement communities plays critical roles in counter-terrorism, but a truly effective counter-terrorism strategy is one that is intelligence-heavy and leverages that intelligence to inform a plan than employs all elements of national power, with a focus on non-kinetic tools and authorities.
The second part of our discussion on terrorism issues rolls on today with two On Day One user generated ideas suggesting that the next president treat counter-terrorism more as a challenge for law enforcement than a military objective.
It would seem that counter-terrorism responsibility has fallen mainly under the purview of the military. Are there advantages, though, of limiting the military’s role in counter-terrorism and treating it more as a law enforcement issue? Are our laws–or international law–capable of meeting the challenges posed by international terrorism? Are there specific legal reforms that might benefit law enforcement without sacrificing on civil liberties? And if the military is going to take the lead, how should our service branches reform to meet these new challenges?
There’s a huge UN conference happening today in the Congolese capital Kinshasa on women’s rights:
Women’s rights ministers from 11 countries across Africa’s Great Lakes region are gathering today in Kinshasa for a United Nations-organized conference to take steps to set up a regional research and documentation centre on women’s rights.
The two-day meeting in the Congolese capital, jointly organized by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Ministry of Women’s Rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), will also be attended by representatives of the African Union, the African Bank of Development and the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, as well as several UN agencies.
Check out UNESCO’s site for more details, but the goal seems to be that the Great Lakes research center will be based on a similar UNESCO-initiated women’s rights center created in 2006 in Ramallah in the occupied Palestinian territory. Sounds like a great and necessary initiative for the Great Lakes.
The SG: In Ethiopia over the weekend, the SG is now in the United Arab Emirates. Today he met with Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, where the two discussed developments in the region, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and in the Middle East Peace Process.