- Step Back: Lessons for U.S. Foreign Policy from the Failed War on Terror
- The Twenty Years’ War
- Saroj Bishoyi | Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses
How should the US now deal with authoritarian regimes considered its traditional allies in the Muslim world? How should the US deal with civil society, opposition parties, and other Islamist groups, often located within these friends and allies? How can the US maintain a close alliance with Israel while still continuing positive relations with Muslim states and movements?
The volume is comprised of fourteen contributions from specialists in the field. It is a serious attempt to address and analyze key factors affecting US interests and suggests measures for the US policy makers. The main objective is to provide a policy framework that will enable the US to face the challenges posed and opportunities thrown open in the Muslim world. More Current.
Agricultural and Food Controversies F. The World Is Flat 3. Terrorist-linked war is not new to the Middle East, of course. Lebanon suffered a calamitous war in the s and s where Palestinian terrorists and Hezbollah were important players.
Jihadists in Algeria fought a vicious civil war against the regime in the s, where over one hundred thousand people died. Afghanistan, Nigeria, Sudan, and other countries in the region have long endured civil wars. Yet even with this bloody benchmark in mind, the numbers in recent years are far grimmer.
Terrorists have contributed to and exploited civil wars that have killed more than one hundred thousand in Afghanistan, tens of thousands in Pakistan, tens of thousands in Nigeria, thousands in Yemen, thousands in Libya, and hundreds of thousands in Syria. With this picture in mind, the challenges facing the United States can be broken down into three issues. The first, of course, is the real risk to American lives and those of U. In absolute terms, these are small in the United States and only slightly larger in Europe.
The next danger is political. Trump scored many points playing up the threat of Muslim immigrants and Syrian refugees, with the terrorism danger—statistically low though it is—looming in the background. Defending America means more than defending American lives; it also means defending American values, including being a home to peaceful people of all religions, and welcoming refugees.
In Europe, the politics are even nastier as xenophobic movements gain notable strength. The biggest danger, however, is to U. Stability and governance have collapsed in many countries and are under threat in others. In addition to the human cost, this threatens the stability of U. The danger also allows U. Some of these dangers concern the groups themselves and their ideology, while others are about how they recruit, act, and thrive.
The primary groups opposing the United States have grown ever more radical. In the s and s, the United States faced an array of national-liberation and left-wing movements, including some, such as the Viet Cong, that blended the two together. Although such groups were often ruthless and vicious, their ultimate goal—self-determination—was comprehensible and even admirable to many Americans. Left-wing groups often represented more fringe voices, but they too had an ideology comprehensible to most Americans, and their actual use of violence was quite limited.
In the s, Hezbollah killed hundreds of Americans, but focused its violence on American troops and diplomats overseas—not civilians at home.cpanel.geod.in/instagram-tracker-samsung.php
Step Back: Lessons for U.S. Foreign Policy from the Failed War on Terror
Its state sponsors, namely Iran, made the group more formidable, but also placed limits on the scope and scale of its attacks. Iran recognized that if it crossed too many lines it might lead to a devastating U.
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Al-Qaida proved willing to kill thousands of civilians in order to drive home its message to the United States. It embraces sexual slavery, beheadings, and mass executions of Muslim minorities and Sunnis it considers disloyal. Even al-Qaida considers the Islamic State too extreme. Concessions to the population centers from which terrorists drew proved important in fighting terrorism in the past.
It will be far harder to accomplish these today. Spain granted considerable autonomy to the Basque region, and the British government showered development spending on Northern Ireland while drafting a political deal that ensured Catholic rights. In the Middle East, however, the radical constituencies do not want political reform and are likely to exploit any relaxation of police states to expand their operations.
Key adversaries today also have a different focus than did those even a few years back. It seeks to defend its self-proclaimed caliphate and expand it. It has enough capacity to attack Europe and inspire attacks on the United States, but the bulk of its efforts are local.
In the past, few groups could sustain a truly transnational presence. Technological changes have made such vast operations more feasible. Anti-Soviet jihadists in Afghanistan struggled to produce a magazine that glorified their cause, and it took years for word of their struggle to spread. The United Nations estimates that thirty thousand foreign fighters have gone to Iraq and Syria—more than all jihads in the past combined. Older groups also embrace information technology: Hezbollah even operates a television station. Terrorist groups can communicate—and thus direct recruits, proselytize and fundraise—far more easily and cost effectively than their predecessors.
By far the biggest change is the linkage between terrorist groups and the control of territory. Hamas controls Gaza, Hezbollah has de facto sovereignty over much of Lebanon, al-Qaida affiliates like al-Shabaab in Somalia rule over parts of their country and, of course, the Islamic State at its peak in ruled lands roughly the size of Great Britain.
Locals have regularly welcomed these groups even though they abhor their ideology. After years of civil war and anarchy, locals often embrace any form of law and order, no matter how extreme. Such a shift is part of why these groups often have a more local and regional focus: having to run a government, enforce law and order, and provide services, even on a limited scale, is a drain on resources and time.
In addition, groups often want to expand these havens while many are often under attack, requiring large military forces to defend them and claim more territory.
The Twenty Years’ War
Defeating such terrorist groups is difficult because they have more supporters and engage in a wide range of activities beyond just terrorism. Hezbollah is not just five guys in an underground cell seeking to construct a bomb: it also runs hospitals, schools, and government ministries. And here too the situation has changed, this time much for the worse. But this concern has expanded to defining success as stopping all attacks on all Americans everywhere.
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The killing of three Americans at the Boston Marathon in shut down the city. Even preventing limited strikes in dangerous areas like the attack in Benghazi that killed Amb. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans are political footballs. In contrast, Ronald Reagan suffered no major political penalty—and people rightly see him as tough on terrorism—despite Hezbollah attacks on U. Americans are in no mood to accept that small attacks are difficult to prevent, that diplomats should be stationed in dangerous areas, and that low levels of terrorism at home are a sign of success, not failure.
In areas where governments are strong, the United States works with partner security services to monitor, detain, arrest, and jail suspected terrorists. In places like Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, drone strikes on terrorist leaders eliminate hard-to-replace bomb makers and logisticians, and force those who survive into hiding. Together, such efforts make it far harder for hunted groups to engage in a global terrorism campaign: their members are often arrested worldwide, training becomes more difficult and exercising command exposes them to drone strikes.
Indeed, part of the reason that al-Qaida and now the Islamic State turn to lone wolves is because it has proven difficult to use more organized terrorists to strike the United States. In addition to continuing this campaign, the United States must exploit technological change as well as recognize the technological realities it cannot change. Although the United States can and should push technology companies to hinder egregious terrorist recruitment and operations, protecting the right of free speech and the proliferation of communications technologies remains a boon for groups that cannot be avoided.
Saroj Bishoyi | Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses
Such efforts are vital for identifying and stopping lone wolves, whose only indication of an impending attack might be a tweet or Facebook post that brings them to the attention of security services. The biggest challenge for fighting terrorism today, however, concerns the control of territory. In areas where civil wars rage, the United States will have to step up and improve training programs for allied militaries and substate groups. America needs more competent good guys—or at least less-bad guys—to support in the Middle East and other danger zones. Such forces are necessary to push back the Islamic State and other groups on the ground and, even more difficult, to hold the territory as these groups respond with renewed attacks and guerrilla operations.
Addressing territorial control in the long term requires a fundamental shift from the Obama era. The Obama administration aggressively hunted terrorists throughout the Greater Middle East and Africa, yet remained hesitant to become bogged down in the swamp of Middle East politics. The result was an aggressive campaign to kill and arrest terrorists that was often divorced from the environment that allows them to breed and expand: civil war.
Ending civil wars must feature centrally in future counterterrorism policy. Such a recommendation is easier in spirit than in practice.