If Politicians Cared About Long-Term Security for Americans
|December 31, 2004||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
If Politicians Cared About Long-Term Security for Americans
A SECURE AMERICA IN A SECURE WORLD (Part Two)
Can you imagine a foreign policy based on reality, instead of domination, plagiarism, propaganda and torture? A special team of foreign policy experts has built an example of a real foreign policy for the US.
Last week, we presented Part One — a summary of their critique of the Bush administration’s failures. This week we’re showing this summary of what positive, constructive alternatives they have to offer.
This article was made available through the news service of Foreign Policy in Focus. Foreign Policy in Focus has kindly granted us permission to share top articles with the readers of the Progress Report.
by the FPIF Task Force on Terrorism
A different approach would not fight a war on terrorism. Rather, it would treat terrorism as an ongoing threat that needs to be tackled through a strong, coordinated strategy focused on strengthening civilian public sectors and enhancing the international cooperation necessary to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks. Although the military has a clear role to play, it is a supporting actor in the fight against terrorism and Washington must restructure the military in ways that enhance its capacities to respond to the threat posed by international terrorism. The safety challenge of terrorism exposes the weakness of Washingtons conventional ideas of national security and the folly of traditional responsestypically militaryto threats against U.S. citizens.
America needs a new agenda for combating terrorism, one that secures citizens against attacks and that situates the use of force within an international legal and policy framework. This agenda must bring international terrorists to justice, debilitate their capacity to wage terrorism, and undermine the political credibility of terrorist networks by addressing related political grievances and injustices. Below, we outline a four-part framework for a new agenda to counter terrorism.
A. Strengthen Homeland Security
To do this, the emphasis needs to be on preventing terrorist attacks and mitigating the effects of terrorist violence. Specific initiatives should:
- Improve Intelligence Gathering and Oversight
- Strengthen Border Security:
- Protect Critical Infrastructure:
- Support Emergency Responders
- Prevent Terrorists from Obtaining Weapons:
B. Strengthen International and National Legal Systems to Hold Terrorists Accountable
An effective response to terrorism requires bolstering the national and international legal infrastructure necessary to identify and prosecute the individuals and organizations that facilitate, finance, perpetrate, and profit from terrorism. Specific initiatives should:
- Expand international police cooperation;
- Adopt the Princeton Principles on Universal Jurisdiction for prosecutions of crimes against humanity;
- Strengthen the institutions of international law by supporting the creation of a specialized tribunal for judging international terrorists; and,
- Provide technical assistance to countries to implement all the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force with respect to money laundering and terrorist financing.
In those instances where military force is necessary to combat nonstate actors like al-Qaida, working through international institutions is justified on both normative and pragmatic grounds. The use of force should require specific authorization from the United Nations Security Council that includes specific goals and a time line, and military operations would preferably be under UN control. In any event, the exercise of such force should adhere to international humanitarian law and the principles of the just war tradition.
C. Defend and Promote Democracy at Home and Abroad
Antiterrorist efforts should not sacrifice the very values that Americans are trying to defend. Washington must listen closely to the mounting concerns of civil libertarians and constitutional rights groups who caution that the new counterterrorism campaign may lead to a garrison state that undermines all that America stands for while doing little to protect citizens against unconventional threats. The USA PATRIOT Act is perhaps the greatest threat to civil liberties in the country today, and we applaud the numerous states, cities, towns, and counties that have passed resolutions demanding that local law enforcement not implement the provisions of those regulations that infringe on basic rights.
In forging international coalitions against terrorism, the administration should strengthen restrictions on the provision of military aid, weapons, and training to regimes that systematically violate human rights. Proactively, the White House and Congress should more rigorously condition such programs on adherence to internationally recognized human rights standards. In addition, the United States should support efforts to strengthen international legal and human rights norms, conventions, and organizations and should evaluate its own foreign policies in light of those norms.
D. Attack Root Causes
Combating terrorism requires looking beyond any one terrorist eventhorrific as it may beto address the broader socioeconomic, political, and military contexts from which international terrorism emerges. Because terrorism is a particular kind of violent act aimed at achieving a political objective, a preventive strategy must address its political roots.
U.S. policy must recognize a distinction between international terrorism in general and the specific threat posed by al-Qaida and other extremist Islamist movements, so as not to be perceived as waging a war on Islam. The 9/11 Commission Report, for example, is careful to make such a distinction. This requires that U.S. policymakers learn to distinguish between illegitimate demands and legitimate demands pursued through illegitimate means. The anti-democratic and jihadist character of al-Qaidas ideology suggests that even if the United States were to pursue the kinds of alternative policies outlined here, Americans would still be the target of attacks by committed members of al-Qaida and similar groups. Addressing root causes is one way of insuring that terrorist group efforts to mobilize support meet as inhospitable a social, economic, and political climate as possible.
The success of these policies will only be fully realized when there are no more breeding grounds for terrorist politics. These political contexts include: repressive political regimes, which spawn terrorism; failed and failing states, which can provide terrorists with arenas for operations; poverty and inequality, which can enhance support for terrorist acts and provide a source of recruits, even though poverty itself does not cause terrorism; and efforts by the United States to institutionalize its positions of global dominance, including through alliances with repressive regimes.
No single component of this framework is an adequate response to terrorism. Only by joining all four strategiespursuing prevention and preparedness, strengthening the international framework for multilateral action, defending and promoting civil rights, and addressing root causeswill the U.S. government be able to truthfully tell the American people that it is doing all that it can to prevent future terrorist attacks. Our proposed security strategy would be more effective at making the U.S. a safer place for all its citizens. It would also have the added advantages of improving the nations quality of life by improving public safety, health care, and air quality.
The challenge is to construct a national security policy that demonstrates Americas new commitment to protecting U.S. citizens by incorporating effective counterterror measures into the national security strategy. At the same time, American citizens must demand and U.S. foreign policy must assert a renewed commitment to constructing an international framework of peace, justice, and security that locks terrorists out in the coldwith no home, no supporters, no money, and no rallying cry. With that response, the events of September 11, 2001, will indeed have changed America and the world.
John Gershman, FPIF Codirector, was the principal author of the report and the Task Force Members are: Robert Alvarez, Salih Booker, Elsbeth L. Bothe, John Cavanagh, Marcus Corbin, David Cortright, Kristen Dawkins, Lloyd J. Dumas, Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar, John Feffer, Van Gosse, William D. Hartung, Colleen Kelly, Michael Klare, Dr. Lawrence J. Korb, Jules Lobel, Robert K. Musil, Ph.D, M.P.H., Col. Dan Smith, U.S. Army (Ret.), Joe Stork, Joe Volk, Bruce Zagaris , John Zavales, and Stephen Zunes.
For more on the corruption and negativity of U.S. foreign policy, see the Progress Report’s Patriot Page
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