Prior to 911 terrorists were responded to rather than any above board actions and policies. We had covert operations run by the CIA nothing more. Bush brought in pre-emptive military and FBI resources and began a process of legislative writing that reworked many institutions under DHS and forged a more international approach to detection and containment, but with some major sacrifices of life and liberty such as privacy and failed experimental interrogation methods and even human right abuses. War is a messy business.
The statement of Perl (2007) raised this question, “to what degree does the [U.S. counter-terrorism] strategy’s approach…. characterize and respond to the terrorist threat and the …forces driving it.” The implication for basic measurable advances and reality testing assessments are valid. The lack of such planning and practices not only shows incompetence, but the possibility of significant vulnerabilities and risks including corruption such as the influence of those benefiting from armed conflicts globally. While the intent of an unlimited congressional/executive power for appropriation of funding to address a war threat is understandable, the reality test is that to exercise a lack of constraint in that spending can be just as much a threat to national security if not greater than the original threat. In other words, if debt is not capped, there is a point where subjecting the nation for foreign investment above what we may be able to honor damages not only our credit, but limits the enjoyments of freedom, the quality of life, and general levels of prosperity while simultaneously chaining present and future generations to obligations to foreign powers that presently own more of the U.S. infrastructure and interests than ever before in history with estimates as high as 30 cents on the tax dollar earned being debt- a significant portion being financed by China whom coincidentally is accused of being the largest opponent in cyber warfare and also was earlier exporting toxic toys for children into the U.S. and harmful pesticides for crops while allied to Russia/ Syria and Egypt and supplying arms and more across regions which continue to drain U.S. assets. While were all concerned about a boogie man in the Middle East the Russian’s are running drills already on California’s coast monitoring our rather slow responses.
The evolution of counter-terrorism can be deduced as going from bad to worse and then under significant public pressure and internal moral lows inside the crime fighting and military communities an eventual shift away from war to more diplomatic exercises of varying qualities. The exception being the increased use of drones in a markedly massive increase in the Obama administration over former President Bush’s administration in the number killed via the drone program and the growth of black sites and activity in the secrete services.
A close examination of the finances since 911 and a trail of what has been funded may paint a more realistic picture of what has actually been done rather that the words on the various reports. A general criticism that appears to have increased as the wars lingered on without a huge amount of successes has been that military force to deal with rouge states and extremists groups was an ineffective strategy and that more diplomatic and grass-roots approaches should be used to make progress. Another general observation is that an external focus of the various counter-terrorism plans reviewed presents the notion of potential internal risks to U.S. infrastructure and a level of nativity or denial regarding possible internal threats and vulnerabilities.
James Dobbins of the Rand Corporation commented on an NPR radio show, that the propaganda area was a failing one for the U.S. strategy and in contrast opponents were much more effective at spreading their views and gaining adherents. He suggested the U.S. needed to stop calling it a war on terror because it was misleading and vague or non-exact enough to get buy-in from the public (Northam, 2006) .
The rhetoric of war reveals the true weaknesses in the plans of the advocates of war. For example (U.S. National Security Council, 2006 pg. 6),
“Our strategy involved destroying the larger al-Qaida network and also confronting the radical ideology that inspired others to join or support the terrorist movement. Since 9/11, we have made substantial progress in degrading the al-Qaida network, killing or capturing key lieutenants, eliminating safe havens, and disrupting existing lines of support. Through the freedom agenda, we also have promoted the best long-term answer to al-Qaida's agenda: the freedom and dignity that comes when human liberty is protected by effective democratic institutions.”
The Middle East is a vast region with oil and economic potential if developed. The west has interest in stability, but also continues to expect it can with power, persuade cultures all over the world to cooperate with the processes of globalization and counter defiant positions with tactics of invasions, occupations, embargoes, and other tools to influence the cultures adaptation to modern trends. What has not been examined well is whether the grievances of anyone that opposes the west’s stated intentions and demonstrations have merit and whether or not the west itself is guilty of exuding terrorism upon those they seek to conquer. Is a society that has more people behind bars and produces more waste has rampant mental health issues really qualified to assume that their version of democracy is something that should be imposed or transferred into other societies? Surely we are moving beyond the 1960’s when dark skinned people had to sit at the back of the bus aren’t we? When you produce policies that favor Jews and diminish Muslims you are not building friends. The institution of war on “Islamists” is not only a waste, it is a disgrace and threat to the country.
National Security Council. (2006). National strategy for combating terrorism. Retrieved from http://hosted.ap.org/…/in…/wdc/documents/wh_terror060905.pdf
Northam, J. (Writer). (2006, October 22). Calls renewed for better U.S. counterterrorism strategies [Radio broadcast episode]. In National Public Radio (Producer), NPR News. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6362624
Perl, R. F. (2007). National strategy for combating terrorism: Background and issues for Congress. Retrieved from http://www.law.umaryland.edu/…/crsdocu…/RL34230_11012007.pdf