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How Bush Strategy Failed Part Two

US President George W. Bush. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by David Isenberg
UPI Outside View Commentator
Washington (UPI) Sep 27, 2006
To write that protecting and defending the U.S. homeland remains the "first and most solemn obligation" is a perversion of reality. The Bush administration's insistence on fighting a war of choice in Iraq has given Osama bin Laden exactly what he dreamed of, an enormous overreaction that has vastly increased anti-American sentiment around the world, divided America from allies and sympathetic countries, and served as a recruiting tool for thousands of Muslims who might otherwise have turned a deaf ear to bin Laden and al-Qaida.

If the diagnosis is wrong, the implementation is laughable. The Bush administration's new "National Strategy for Combating Terrorism" notes: "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."

Democracy is not conferred at the point of a rifle barrel. While there may be democratic institutions now in Iraq, the cost of their creation has been horribly costly -- a continuing civil war that has killed tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

At various points the new National Strategy makes conclusions that are simply incredible. For example, it says "we have significantly degraded the al-Qaida network." Virtually all terrorism experts agree that al-Qaida is a moving target, one that has changed structure and form many times since Sept. 11, 2001. While technically true that the al-Qaida of Sept. 11, 2001 no longer exists it is equally true that it has transformed itself into an increasingly diffuse network of affiliated groups, who are inspired by its world view, but not controlled by it.

Strategy is all about connecting means to ends. The report concludes: "Since the Sept. 11 attacks, America is safer, but we are not yet safe. We have done much to degrade al-Qaida and its affiliates and to undercut the perceived legitimacy of terrorism. Our Muslim partners are speaking out against those who seek to use their religion to justify violence and a totalitarian vision of the world. We have significantly expanded our counter-terrorism coalition, transforming old adversaries into new and vital partners in the War on Terror."

Actually, the reverse is true. Our invasion and occupation of Iraq has inflamed anti-American sentiment among much of the world's Muslim population who have come to view U.S. efforts as constituting a war on Islam. Radical Islamic parties have increased their political influence substantially in more than a dozen nations. Such parties have advanced their positions in Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco, the Palestinian territories, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. It has served as the new breeding and training ground for future terrorists.

Whatever degradation of al-Qaida has occurred has been far exceeded by subsequent terrorist violence. According to a report released earlier this month by the Project on Defense Alternatives, overall, terrorist activity and violence has grown worse, not better since Sept. 11, 2001. Average levels of terrorist violence that would have been considered extreme in the period prior to Sept. 11 have become the norm in the years since.

What this report shows is that the Bush administration has an end, the defeat of terrorists who seek to attack America, but is clueless when it comes to connecting that with effective means for doing so. Its policies bring to mind the words of Albert Einstein, who said: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Second of two parts

(David Isenberg is a senior research analyst at the British American Security Information Council, a member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy, and an adviser to the Straus Military Reform Project of the Center for Defense Information in Washington, D.C. These views expressed in this commentary are his own.)

(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

Source: United Press International

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A New Security Strategy For The United States
Washington (UPI) Sep 27, 2006
A new national security strategy for the United States in the 21st century that would cut back sharply on the U.S. veto at the United Nations, or even replace the U.N. altogether with a new Concert of Democracies, was launched in Washington Wednesday by a high-powered bipartisan group.

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