Monday, November 19, 2007

CSIS; Is Terrorism that much of a Problem?

The Center for Strategic and International Studies has published a report by a Commission it set up under the leadership of Rich Armitage, U.S. deputy secretary of State in the first Bush term, and Joseph S. Nye from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Nye is perhaps the quintessential advocate for ‘Soft Power’. The report title is: The CSIS Commission on Smart Power A Smarter more Secure America. Here is an excerpt:

The threat from terrorists
with global reach and ambition is real. It is
likely to be with us for decades. Thwarting their
hateful intentions is of fundamental importance
and must be met with the sharp tip of America’s
sword. On this there can be no serious debate.
But excessive use of force can actually abet terrorist
recruitment among local populations. We
must strike a balance between the use of force
against irreconcilable extremists committed to
violent struggle and other means of countering
terrorism if we want to maintain our legitimacy.

I agree that I would not want an armed terrorist in my living room, but let us not let the Bush propaganda PaNAC us.

Yes, 9/11 was an outrageous act of terrorism, but the 3000 who died in that strange, potentially unnecessary and under investigated outrage are 14 times less than the 42,000 Americans who die in Road Traffic Accidents each year , or 1/84 the of the number Americans who have died since 2001 in RTAs. Yes, I know that this is not exactly comparing like with like, because it seems worse when a lot of people go at the same time, and to some extent people who die in cars choose to do so, which the victims of 9/11 did not (except the hypothetical terrorists) but even so, the numbers speak for themselves.

Then the other attacks. 7/7 here in the UK, and Madrid. Then a handful of embassy targets. It all seems a bit short of the apocalyptic proportions of what Mr Soft Power is trying to sell to us. Here in the UK, having lived through years of IRA bombings at a time when Americans saw nothing wrong at all with funding the terrorists who were bombing us on a regular basis, it is rather difficult to see what all the PanAc is about.

The fact is that the police and intelligence services are far more effective in defending us against terrorists than the military are. In fact, as he says, the military effort makes it worse. It fans the flames.

Fundamentalists are like Marxists. Leave them alone, and they soon start falling out among themselves. Fissiparous is the word. Attack them, and they have a raison d'etre.

So, sorry, there is serious debate to be had about whether America is sensible in spending trillions of borrowed dollars in trying to break Osama's poison butterfly on the wheel of American military power.

The kind of money Bush spends on his old family friend OBL would be far better spent in developing energy efficiency, and renewable energy technology.

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