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on Patterns of Global Terrorism for 2002
US State Department's Report on Patterns of Global Terrorism for 2001
SHARON TARGETS SYRIA The New York Times notes that the Israeli strikes on Syria create a crisis for America's allies in the Arab world, already reeling under the fallout from the U.S. invasion of Iraq and its support for Sharon's tactics against the Palestinian uprising.
Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon sent shock waves through the Middle East last weekend by launching his country's first air strikes on Syria in two decades. Israeli planes destroyed what Sharon's government claimed was a terrorist training camp near Damascus, in response to Saturday's terrorist attack in Haifa that killed 19 people. That suicide bombing was carried out by a member of Islamic Jihad, which maintains offices in Damascus. But Saturday's perpetrator, like almost all the suicide bombers who bring terror to Israel's streets, came from the West Bank and had never left the Israeli-occupied territory. So the question becomes, why has Sharon chosen to respond by drawing in Syria? Some Israeli analysts suggest the reason for the symbolic strike is that Sharon has no tactical answer to the ongoing campaign of suicide terror emanating from the occupied territories, and the U.S. has warned him off moving against Arafat. Others suggest Sharon may be deliberately fomenting a regional crisis to amplify U.S. pressure on Syria and other Arab states, and to once again move the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the back burner.
(The Guardian, October 7, 2003)
Haaretz reports Haaretz reports on anxiety among Israelis that their government may now be stirring up a regional conflict from which little good will come, and which will do nothing to solve Israel's basic headache, which is in the West Bank and Gaza.
The Christian Science Monitor writes that Damascus will feel compelled to respond militarily to the Israeli strikes, but that the response will most likely come via Syria's Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah.
The Bush administration has declined to criticize Israel for the strike on Syria, instead simply urging that Prime Minister Sharon avoid escalation. The L.A. Times writes that Washington's response may be driven by a desire to punish Syria for failing to be more responsive to U.S. demands over policing its border with Iraq.
Whatever impact it has on regional stability, the decision to strike Syria simply delays the Sharon government's day of decision over its own policy to expel Yasser Arafat, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Haaretz suggests that Yasser Arafat's hasty appointment of an emergency government under Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia last weekend is designed to forestall any action against him. Arafat hopes to show that he can control the streets and restore calm, but despite having ridden out U.S. and Israeli efforts to sideline him, it remains questionable whether he can restore sufficient control to rein in militant groups.
RICE TAKES CHARGE OF IRAQ EFFORT Neoconservative spokesman William Kristol, writing in the Weekly Standard, echoes the theme that the "civil war" between the Pentagon on the one hand and the CIA and State Department on the other threaten the administration's ability to achieve its goals.
In an apparent effort to bring to heel the warring Defense Department and State Department factions, President Bush has named National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to head a new White House task force to oversee reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. While it leaves Ambassador J. Paul Bremer in charge in Baghdad, the move appears to shift the center of gravity on Iraq reconstruction policy from the Pentagon to the White House. The shakeup also suggests mounting anxiety in the administration over the prospect of entering a reelection year with the human and financial cost of Iraq creating a domestic political liability. The Bush administration now has a domestic political incentive to seek urgent improvements in the security and political situation in Iraq, and can't afford to see its efforts blighted by interdepartmental infighting.
(Washington Post, October 7, 2003)
CDI fellow John Newhouse suggests that the Iraq war has brought relations between the Pentagon and Foggy Bottom to an all-time low, and explains why this deterioration has bedeviled reconstruction efforts.
Having learned over the past three weeks that it is unlikely to win further UN Security Council backing in Iraq on its own terms, the Bush administration may be set to abandon a new UN resolution it had hoped would entice international military and financial support, the BBC reports.
The Bush administration has set a six-month timetable for the adoption of a new constitution for Iraq, hoping to accelerate the political transition that would create an exit strategy for the U.S. But, warn Carnegie scholars Marina Ottaway and Thomas Carothers, accelerating elections could generate instability and favor radical groups. Instead, they suggest the focus should be limited to formulating arrangements for an elected constituent assembly and an interim government of national unity, to which sovereignty could be transferred. (PDF download)
WASTING MONEY IN IRAQ? George Soros's Open Society Institute has created an online Iraq Revenue Watch to track information regarding the awarding of contracts in post-Saddam Iraq.
Citing a number of specific instances where they believe money was spent unnecessarily, the Iraqi Governing Council has challenged the Coalition Provision Authority over squandering the precious resources available for reconstruction. The CPA, goes the charge, are overlooking cheaper alternatives available within Iraq to award contracts to foreigners, boosting the cost of reconstruction.
(New York Times, October 3, 2003)
The Independent notes that congressional Democrats are making some of the same charges, accusing the administration of unnecessarily inflating costs on a number of contracts awarded to foreign companies.
MISCONCEPTIONS DROVE AMERICAN SUPPORT FOR WAR The Carnegie Endowment's Joseph Cirincione writes that weapons inspector David Kay's findings have undermined the administration's case for going to war, but also that Kay is compromised as an objective judge by his forceful advocacy of the case for war, and that a neutral assessment is needed.
A new University of Maryland study shows that the U.S. public support for going to war in Iraq was in large part premised on three misconceptions: That Saddam Hussein had been involved in September 11, that weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq and that most countries either supported the war or were evenly divided over it. Some 60 percent of Americans believed at least one of those three claims. And when adoption of these misconceptions is correlated with sources of information, it emerges that 80 percent of Fox News Channel viewers believed at least one of those falsehoods, compared with only 23 percent of those who relied for news on PBS and National Public Radio.
(Knight Ridder, October 2, 2003)
The public weren't the only ones laboring under misconceptions, write Elisa D. Harris and Ivo H. Daalder. Even putting aside distortions and manipulation of evidence to make a case for war, it remains clear that the U.S. intelligence community's picture of Iraq was badly lacking.
WHY BUSH INVADED IRAQ Nor did it have to be that way. Former Clinton undersecretary of State James Rubin writes in Foreign Affairs that the Bush administration's handling of its coalition-building efforts is a textbook study of diplomatic errors.
Kennedy administration veteran Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. is deeply troubled over President George W. Bush's doctrine of "preemption," and its application in Iraq. The record has proved that in no sense could invading Iraq be deemed "preemption" of an imminent aggression, Schlesinger argues. Instead, it was, at best, a "preventative" war the type of which has long been considered beyond the pale in American strategic doctrine. President Bush has tossed out the strategy that won the Cold War, Schlesinger charges, primarily out of a desire to be remembered as the American president who transformed the Middle East. But, echoing his old boss, Schlesinger warns that "not every problem has an American solution."
(New York Review of Books, October 23, 2003)
Brookings scholars Ivo H. Daalder and James Lindsay describe the Irap invasion as a case of "unilateralism disgraced," and warn that every American is now paying the price for the Bush administration's decision to go act outside of an international consensus on Iraq.
But former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, in a debate with Harvard's Joseph Nye, mounts a vigorous defense of preemption, arguing that it is the most effective form of deterrence in today's conditions.
The International Institute for Strategic Studies notes that much of the discussion over Kofi Annan's recent UN General Assembly speech focused on his criticisms of unilateralism. That neglected Annan's challenge to his own organization to open a discussion about changing the rules of international military intervention to accommodate the need for early, rapid action against emerging threats.
RUDDERLESS PALESTINIANSU.S. help of the type envisaged by Burg may not be forthcoming any time soon. The Washington Post suggests that President Bush has given up on pursuing the "roadmap" as long as Yasser Arafat remains the leader of the Palestinians, and there's little chance of that changing any time soon. The danger, many regional analysts fear, is that the current drift will kill prospects for a two-state solution.
Three years into the "al-Aqsa intifadah," Palestinian society is in the depths of an epic crisis from which there is no visible exit. And in the face of that crisis, writes Graham Usher, the Palestinian leadership is paralyzed. Some advocate a wholesale capitulation to U.S.-Israeli demands for a war on Hamas and Islamic Jihad and any other group that would take up arms against Israel; others advocate fighting on. But the leadership is unable or unwilling to take move decisively down either road.
(Al-Ahram, October 2-8, 2003)
On the Israeli side, too, there are voices of despair. Former Knesset Speaker Avram Burg recently issued an impassioned plea for help, describing Israel as a "failed society" fatally attached to its self-destructive occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Unless the U.S. marched it back to its 1967 borders, Burg warned, Israel would not survive as a Jewish and democratic state.
While it has become commonplace among Palestinian intellectuals to question the viability of a two-state solution and instead to revive talk of a single binational state for Jews and Arabs, that position is more unusual among Jewish intellectuals. Yet that's precisely the argument advanced by Tony Judt in the New York Review of Books, who suggests that the idea of maintaining a nation-state in which Jewish ethnicity and religion enjoys a legally mandated supremacy is an anachronism in today's world.
Arguments over the viability of a two-state solution to the conflict are often premised on the fact that Israel's settlements in the West Bank and Gaza have created an intractable human and social infrastructure preventing the separation of the territories from Israel. Haaretz recently conducted an in depth survey of the settlements including a question dodged by all Israeli governments of the past three decades: their cost. (Israel has spent at least $10.1 billion on settling the territories, the paper concludes.)
MASS CASUALTY TERRORISM?
The idea of al-Qaeda terrorists acquiring biological or nuclear weapons and killing thousands of Americans in an instant has been a staple of the TV punditocracy ever since 9/11, but how real is the threat? Researchers Jack Boureston and Charles Mahaffey suggest that inflicting mass casualties in the U.S. will remain a goal of al-Qaeda's for years to come, but they may not need unconventional weapons to achieve it -- a combination of traditional terror tactics combined with contemporary American vulnerabilities could produce similar results.
(Center for Contemporary Conflict, October, 2003)
ICG INTRODUCES 'CRISIS WATCH'
As a complement to the excellent situation reports and analyses found on their Web site, the International Crisis Group has begun issuing a monthly "Crisis Watch" publication (downloadable as a PDF file), documenting crises not yet in the headlines as well as adding important insights to those already in play. Essential reading for the global correspondent.
(International Crisis Group, October, 2003)
MISSILE DEFENSE AT A CROSSROAD
Missile defense had been one of the signature national security initiatives of the Bush administration before 9/11, and the White House remains determined to fund an accelerated program to create the planned shield. The science, however, is not cooperating, and Center for Defense Information researcher Phillip Coyle suggests the administration faces an uncomfortable choice between racing to deploy a system by its own 2004 deadline, or building a system that actually works. Right now, he argues, it cannot do both.
(International Crisis Group, October, 2003)
Welcome in Iraq?
IRAQ: TURKEY TO THE RESCUE?
Turkey's parliament has accepted the government's argument that repairing relations with the U.S. and establishing a Turkish military footprint in Iraq to guard against any Kurdish secession outweigh the Turkish public's opposition to joining the U.S.-led effort in Iraq. The legislators voted by 358 to 183 to agree to a U.S. request to send up to 10,000 troops to Iraq, following $8 billion of new U.S. loan guarantees and an undertaking from Washington to flush the PKK, a group of Turkish Kurds that have waged a separatist insurgency in southern Turkey, out of the hills of northern Iraq. But as much as the move will be welcomed by U.S. officials anxious to relieve the burden on American troops in Iraq, it is opposed by the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, which has maintained the position that neighboring states should be given no military role in Iraq. The decision to deploy Turkish troops puts IGC members on the spot by forcing them to choose between accepting an unpalatable decision or else challenging their U.S. patron.
(BBC, October 7, 2003)
IRAQ'S INSURGENTS HAVE THEIR OWN PLAN
U.S. commanders acknowledge that Iraqi resistance has actually escalated since August, and that, two guerrilla commanders tell the L.A. Times, is a sign they're flexing the muscles and testing their capabilities. The commanders, both veterans of Saddam's intelligence services operating in the Fallujah area, warn the reporter to expect an escalation of attacks soon, with the onset of the holy month of Ramadan. They say their ranks are composed of former regime officials, ordinary Iraqis rallying to Islamist calls, and those motivated by tribal tradition to seek revenge for insult and injury suffered by their clansmen. Curiously enough, however, they strenuously deny that Saddam's sons, Uday and Qusay Hussein, have been killed.
(L.A. Times, October 7, 2003)
Security Policy Working Group
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