« The Age offers: Who's the real villain? | Main | Common Threads: Of Torture and Security »

December 13, 2005

DO EUROPEANS WANT TO FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM?

Condoleeza Rice spoke her truth: if Europeans want to wage a war on terror they have to rely on the intelligence and accept all the consequences. The Italian weekly magazine Panorama runs an article by Giuliano Ferrara - a leading right-wing journalist – who supports Rice’s view in connection with the scandal of Us “black sites” and the “extraordinary renditions”.
The journalist accuses the Italian media of being naive (“angelic”, he says ironically) if they believe the war on terror can be fought with soft measures. Intelligence operations are secret or are not at all, he states. At the beginning of the war in Iraq, pacifists called for less violence and more intelligence without realising what intelligence really is.
The journalist belongs to the group of intellectuals close to the prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has always been in favour of Bush’s foreign policy and, by the way, is the owner of the publishing house of the magazine.

Posted December 13, 2005 07:28 AM

Comments

It is not a matter of choice. Europe has been fighting various terrorisms systematically since the 1970s. But unseen is best from the point of view of anti-terrorists. The American perspective on fighting terrorism has been limited by its intel agencies' (official) ignorance of it. Bush is like the guy who hit a blob or mercury with a hammer; now that blob is beads of mercury congealed all over the place. It is that which Europe sought to avoid. And so, for the most part, keep observing observing in order to understand the habits and the ways that would make terrorism predictable instead of just acting. All terrorist groups follow variations from a common plan; these must be clearly documented so that a paralyzing or eradicating strategy can be tailored to the group at issue and thus succeed on the first try.

America acts intelligence blind because it thinks it can afford to and it's good politically to the "war president." Europe can't afford to do that. For Rumsfeld, for example, the issue is his fief having a mission and exclusive control of the war on terror. That way he controls the publicity and the assets. But it has backfired because he impatiently sent in US forces intel blind and Bush gave some of his power to Rice; most damaging, Rumsfeld recklessly exposed to all potential enemies quietly observing, America's upper limit at focusing of power against its targets. The US had topped out in Iraq, for example, and now Iran and China both know how much (or how little) to expect in retaliation.

Europe is no longer militarily mobilizable. It must therefore choose its uses of force very carefully for it cannot afford error since it can't afford yet another and another and another try until it gets it right. But that cannot be read as unwillingness to fight. There is no option of yes or no; it is a matter of when and how. Had Bush followed the European plan he would have done better. Please consider the following criticism below and extrapolate from there why, merely by contrast, Europe looks so passive:

the day of his inauguration, I strongly
supported
President Bush's leapfrog of West Europe to rebuild
NATO around East Europe and then link it to the
preexisting Western NATO. I also strongly supported
his surround China strategy as you bring it into the
world market. My first questioning of Bush
Administration policies came after 9/11 when, to my
despair, it decided to kill the alQaeda snake by
stomping on its middle, allowing the head to bite us
again. It was not able to bite us again because its
leaders would not allow its operatives to do anything
less than had its 9/11 shahids-- something they were
not able to do. So alQaeda did strike instead our
European allies several times.

Late in 2001 I thought that with numerous powers out
to outmaneuver America-- particularly China-- we
should have kept in mind what constitutes deterrence,
a concept that kept us safe through the first half of
the nuclear age. What that is can be appreciated by
looking at Medieval Japan. Then, the samurai kept
others in line, not with the sword, but through the
aura of their standing. This was derived from a
triplet of dignity, authority and power. Should a
samurai have cause to draw his sword on a commoner, he
would have to commit Hari-kari because he had
disgraced himself by losing his dignity and authority,
having to resort to his power.

At the end of the Cold War America was exhausted. This
exhaustion began with the end of the Vietnam War.
America no longer wanted to invest in its power. But
it also no longer wanted to invest in its intelligence
services. Seeing the CIA as an operational agency
rather than an eye on the rest of the world, many
sought to disband it after the demise of the USSR. It
was not realized that, despite the CIA myth
popularized by mass media culture, America's dignity
and authority were augmented by its ability to know
and understand what's going in all over the world,
despite bungled CIA operations (ops) in a number of
places. Our Vietnam failure was blamed on poor CIA
intelligence (Intel) rather than Presidential
strategy. Assuming the CIA ops to be the beginning of
American entanglements in wars abroad, many urged
disbanding the Agency.

While America saw little to be gained from Intel,
alQaeda did not. When its operatives saw that, despite
our resolution to make the pilot's cabin impenetrable
because of many skyjackings in the 1970s, we didn't
they planned and executed 9/11. When the Jihadists
forced us out of our isolationism, we focused on our
military, sending troops on special ops Intel blind

To my dismay, I saw President Bush responding to 9/11
"from the gut," instead of recognizing that it could
only happen because of our irresponsible unwillingness
to accept the cost of protecting our airliners.
Instead of then focusing on our Intel services to
better understand the enemy, he responded with hubris
and bravado, making a childish Cowboys-and-Indians
game out of getting binLaden "dead or alive." We thus
sent in our forces Intel blind. Thus exhibiting our
power, we sacrifices our dignity and authority, losing
our allies and needlessly bogging ourselves down in
the one secular Middle Eastern nation that in no way
participated in the Jihad, Iraq. Seeking to become
known as the "war president" with an eye to
re-election, Mr. Bush exposed the upper limit of our
military capacity for all others to see. This samurai
not only depleted his dignity and authority in his
show of force but also exposed the upper limits of
that force. I consider it nothing short of criminal
negligence to allow our weakness, both in Intel and
ops, to be so exposed sending in our troops Intel
blind.

I had hoped that the Bush doctrine would have
established that there is no such thing as a stateless
Jihadist war of terror. The Jihadists would not have
been able to carry out their operations without the
active or passive support of a number of states. It
was incumbent on Mr. Bush to recognize that 9/11 was
our own fault, but then to declare that, should the US
again come under assault, our forces would totally
retaliate against those states that made it possible.
Now binLaden is still at large sending threatening
audiotapes and now we fear an alQaeda nuclear strike.

Thus began my opposition to Mr. Bush's re-election;
and, it intensified when he failed to exhibit the
Kennedyesque vision and courage to declare that
America would marshal all its technical expertise to
make itself independent on Middle East oil within a
decade.

Now, Mr. Bush sits helpless watching Iran develop
nuclear armaments. Because of our obvious exhaustion
in Iraq he cannot mount a credible threat that would
stop Iran. It has seen the upper limit of our "new"
military. Consequently, we are now where we started.
All President Bush can do is accept Iran's
nuclearization and warn that, should America undergo
nuclear attack, we know where it would come from and
we will respond with all our thermonuclear capacity.
Mr. Bush has bungled his way full circle. I can only
hope that this time he gets it right as we pull out of
Iraq and return to reliance on our deterrent capacity.

The lesson may be that, in showing the courage to
accept Iran's nuclearization as defensive, he regains
the dignity and authority America lost to date. The
implicit power with which he gets the Iranians to go
after alQaeda would quickly be self-evident. In the
meantime, the American people must realize that good
intelligence is a game of patience, not action. Every
Predator missile at best destroys the pathology we
seek to understand, making impossible for us to know
the next threat on the horizon.

The Bush Administration should also return its focus
on Eastern Europe, as Secretary of State Rice would
have it do. It belies America's weakened position to
allow Putin and the Russian remnant of the USSR to
tweak America's nose intimidating our East European
NATO allies and its South Asian neighbors.

Daniel E. Teodoru


Posted by: danielet [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2006 11:05 AM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


Remember me?