Instead of a “global war on terror”, Washington should employ a “global counterinsurgency” strategy that focuses on global law enforcement, intelligence, and special operations.
By Jim Lobe
International Press Service (IPS)
Sept. 27, 2006
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WASHINGTON – After two years of consultations with more than 400 members of the U.S. foreign policy elite, a project headed by two leading international relations academics is calling for the adoption of a new U.S. grand strategy designed to address multiple threats and strengthen Washington’s commitment to a reformed and reinvigorated multilateral order.
In a wide-ranging report released here Wednesday, the Princeton Project on National Security suggested that the post-9/11 policies pursued by President George W. Bush have been too simplistic – even counter-productive – for the challenges facing the U.S. in the 21st century.
To be effective, according to the report, U.S. policy needs to rely less on military power and more on other tools of diplomacy; less on its own strength exercised unilaterally and more on cooperation with other democratic states; and less on rapid democratisation based on popular elections and more on building what it called “popular, accountable, rights-regarding (PAR) governments”.
The report also calls for performing “radical surgery” on the international institutions created in the aftermath of the World War II, including significantly increasing membership in the U.N. Security Council and developing a “Concert of Democracies” that would provide an alternative forum for collective action, including the use of force.
On more specific issues, it calls for Washington to “take the lead in doing everything possible” to achieve a comprehensive two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict; to offer Iran security assurances in exchange for its agreement not to develop a nuclear-weapons capacity; and to neither “block or contain” China, but rather to “help it achieve its legitimate ambitions within the current international order.”
The Project and its 90-page report, “Forging a World of Liberty Under Law: U.S. National Security in the 21st Century,” was co-directed by the head of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Anne-Marie Slaughter, and John Ikenberry, a prominent international relations scholar at the school.
Of greater significance, however, was the high-level and bipartisan cast of its participants. Honorary co-chairs of the project included George Shultz, who served as secretary of state under former President Ronald Reagan and is considered particularly influential with the current secretary, Condoleezza Rice, and Anthony Lake, national security adviser under former President Bill Clinton.
The Project’s 13 steering committee members and seven task forces that addressed different aspects of national security were also drawn from experts from or identified with both major parties, while institutional co-sponsors included the major centrist think tanks ranging from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Brookings Institution on the left to the Hoover Institution on the right.
In that respect, the report appeared to be an effort to forge a consensus framework for the mainly Republican, “realist” and mainly Democratic “liberal internationalist” schools that dominated U.S. foreign policy-making in the post-World War II era until the 9/11 attacks when nationalist and neo-conservative hawks in the Bush administration launched their “global war on terror”.
Thus, at the report’s official Capitol Hill launch, sponsored by the “radical centrist” New America Foundation, the two keynote speakers were high-level political symbols of both schools – Republican realist Sen. Chuck Hagel and Democratic internationalist Sen. Joseph Biden — both sharp critics of the administration’s conduct of the “war on terror,” in particular.
Indeed, conspicuously missing among the institutional sponsors of the Project were two key think tanks — the neo-conservative American Enterprise and the right-wing Heritage Foundation — that have been most closely associated with the administration’s more radical policies, including its 2002 National Security Strategy, as well as the invasion of Iraq.
A few prominent neo-conservatives and aggressive nationalists, such as Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol and Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, were among the individuals who participated in the Project’s consultations.
While Slaughter stressed that the final report and recommendations did not represent a formal consensus of all participants or even necessarily of the two honorary co-chairs, she told IPS that “there was agreement across the political spectrum on a comprehensive approach.” Most participants, she said, would agree with most of the analysis and recommendations.
Three specific aims — securing the homeland against hostile attacks or fatal epidemics; building a healthy global economy, and promoting a “benign international environment, grounded in security cooperation among nations and the spread of liberal democracy — should constitute Washington’s basic objectives, according to the report.
To achieve those objectives, the report offers a number of general and specific recommendations, many of which contain implicit criticisms of the Bush administration. It calls, for example, for “fusing hard power – the power to coerce – and soft power – the power to attract; and for “building frameworks of cooperation centred on common interests with other nations rather than insisting that they accept our prioritisation of common threats.”
While it applauds Bush’s advocacy of democratisation in principle, the report calls for greater efforts to bring non-democratic governments “up to PAR” — that is, “a much more sophisticated strategy of creating the deeper conditions for successful liberal democracy -preconditions that extend far beyond the simple holding of elections.”
Similarly, with respect to military power and the use of force, “(i)nstead of insisting on a doctrine of primacy, the United States should aim to sustain the military predominance of liberal democracies and encourage the development of military capabilities of like-minded democracies in a way that is consistent with their security interests.”
While endorsing Bush’s position that “preventive strikes represent a necessary tool in fighting terror networks… they should be proportionate and based on intelligence that adheres to strict standards.” Similarly, the preventive use of force against states”should be very rare, employed only as a last resort and authorised by a multilateral institution — preferably a reformed Security Council…”
In addition to calling for greater U.S. effort and balance in promoting an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement and for offering security guarantees to Iran, the report urges Washington to reduce its ambitions in Iraq from full democratisation to PAR, to redeploy U.S. troops in ways that would encourage Iraqis to take more responsibility, and, in the event of civil war, to contain its regional impact. At the same time, Washington should promote the construction of regional institutions modeled on the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The report also assails administration efforts at “framing the struggle against terrorism as a war similar to World War II or the Cold War” because “it lends legitimacy and respect to an enemy that deserves neither; the result is to strengthen, not degrade our adversary.” Instead of a “global war on terror”, Washington should employ a “global counterinsurgency” strategy that focuses on global law enforcement, intelligence, and special operations.
To combat radicalisation in the Islamic world, Washington should also make clear that it is willing to work with “Islamic governments and Islamic/Islamist movements, including fundamentalists, as long as they disavow terrorism.”
“It is time to unite our country and our allies, while dividing our enemies — rather than the other way around,” said Ikenberry.
On energy, the project called for going much further than the administration has proposed to reduce U.S. reliance on Middle East oil by adopting a tax on gasoline that would begin at 50 cents per gallon and increase by 20 cents per year for each of the next years. It also
called for stricter automobile fuel-efficiency standards and for U.S. leadership in devising new ways to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
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