Advice on United States Strategy towards the al-Qaida Movement and the Global War on Terror

Alleen radicale veranderingen in het buitenlands beleid van de VS t.a.v het Midden-Oosten, Irak en Afghanstan/Pakistan, kunnen leiden tot vermindering van militant jihadisme. Dat is de kern van het advies van de Britse strateeg prof. Paul Rogers aan Obama. Hij geeft zijn (ongevraagde) evaluaties en adviezen al jaren aan de Amerikaanse en Britse regeringen en aan Al-Qaida (!), namens een fictieve denk-tank SWISH.
Na een vernietigende evaluatie van het beleid van Bush cs in het eerste deel van zijn rapport (zie onderaan), besluit hij dit tweede deel met:

..We are aware that our advice in three of the four major aspects covered in this report – Israel-Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan-Pakistan – is considerably more radical than anything you currently propose; but you have requested our advice and we have given it. We acknowledge that to accept it is much to ask of you, perhaps especially because it represents a very different outlook not just from the neo-conservative vision of a "new American century" but from some of the assertive realists that you have already invited into your administration.

If you do prove able to take this advice, then we are confident that you will both make your country more secure and create a strong foundation from which to address formidable global problems of climate change and socio-economic division during your second term. Should you ask our advice on these latter issues at some future date, we will be honoured to respond.

If however you do not take the advice in this current report, then we anticipate an exceptionally difficult period in office for what is likely to become a one-term presidency. In light of the promise you embody as you prepare to begin your period in office, that would be a double tragedy: for your country, and for the wider global community.

‘The SWISH Report (13.2)’ – Advice on United States strategy towards the al-Qaida movement and the Global War on Terror (Part2)

The impact of 9/11

The response to the attacks of 11 September 2001 was fully understandable but still deeply mistaken. The Hamburg group behind the 9/11 attacks was affiliated to the al-Qaida leadership, which had two aims in encouraging and facilitating the attacks: demonstrating the capacity of the movement to strike the "far enemy" of the United States, and inciting a United States military occupation of Afghanistan.

In relation to the latter, they were much influenced in their thinking by the crippling of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s and believed that your forces would ultimately be worn down in a similar manner. One superpower had been struck down; the other would follow. True, initially you avoided that fate by using a combination of air power, special forces and the rearming of the Northern Alliance coalition of warlords to terminate the Taliban regime. But even if you did not immediately occupy Afghanistan, your decision to respond to 9/11 by terminating the Taliban regime and dispersing al-Qaida was still an error.

The al-Qaida leadership welcomed the fact that you saw the 9/11 attacks as the start of a war rather than an appalling exercise in gross transnational criminality. If you had taken the latter view, and gathered a broad coalition to work intensively to bring those behind the attacks to justice, this would have deeply compromised al-Qaida’s exceptionalist status and challenged their religious justifications. The effect would have been to undermine their ability to represent themselves as being under attack from the world’s most powerful military force as part of a wider assault on Islam; instead, al-Qaida would have been seen as marginalised extremists.

The impact of Iraq

The United States administration in office at the time responded to 9/11 by commencing a "war on terror" – and thereby fell into a trap. Seven years later, the war in Afghanistan and western Pakistan is accelerating and the US is now being mired in what may be a decades-long war. Moreover, your predecessor administration compounded this error by terminating the Saddam Hussein regime and occupying Iraq. That regime had virtually no connection with al-Qaida – indeed the al-Qaida leadership had previously criticised the regime as a secularist entity giving too little respect to Islam.

As such, it mattered little to al-Qaida whether the Saddam Hussein regime survived; but what became an utter gift to them was the occupation of a "heartland" country by their far enemy. Moreover, as the insurgency became more difficult to handle, your forces turned increasingly to Israel for advice, training and assistance. This may be fully understandable and justified from your perspective, given Israel’s decades of experience in combating irregular forces. As a consequence, however, the jihadist propagandists have been able to develop the potent narrative of a "crusader/Zionist" takeover of a country close to the centre of the Islamic world…

Afghanistan and south Asia

In southwest Asia, a complex insurgency has developed in Afghanistan and western Pakistan. Your incoming administration plans to increase the military forces deployed to the region to combat these. We will discuss the advisability of this in the second part of this report, but at this stage we would make three comments…

‘The SWISH Report (13.1)’ – Advice on United States strategy towards the al-Qaida movement and the Global War on Terror (Part 1)

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