Don’t Legitimate Terrorist Regimes in the Name of Fighting the War on Terrorism

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(Washington, D.C.): President Bush is being encouraged by his State Department and some allies to make an extraordinary mistake: In the interest of creating the impression of world-wide solidarity in the war against international terrorists and their sponsors, they want the U.S. to enlist — incredible as it may seem — international terrorists and their sponsors in the cause.

The latter include nations with long histories of giving terrorist organizations material and financial support, safe havens, training and logistic and intelligence assistance. Among the most egregious of such states now reportedly being consulted, if not courted, by Secretary of State Colin Powell and his minions are: Syria, Iran, Cuba, Sudan, Pakistan and Yasser Arafat’s proto-state, the Palestinian Authority.

The United States is also exploring the willingness of others with long ties to terrorism, like Russia and China, to make common cause. Moscow and Beijing apparently are saying they are willing to be on our side, but only conditionally so. For example, the PRC is making absurd demands, including that it wants proof that any U.S.-led military action is warranted, consistent with international law (as defined by their UN Security Council veto), will not incur the loss of innocent civilians’ lives and — worst of all — will be accompanied by American support for China’s efforts to suppress its own “terrorists” and “separatists,” (read, Taiwan and Tibet).

At the very best, these initiatives will utterly compromise the nature of the war Mr. Bush has correctly said we must now wage. It is simply impossible, not to say incoherent, to pretend such “allies” can possibly be part of the solution when they are so manifestly part of the problem. Legitimating odious, terrorist-embracing regimes like Iran’s and Syria’s as members in good standing of the civilized world would be strategically disastrous and morally abhorrent — a point made lucidly by former Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle in today’s Daily Telegraph.

At worst, fair-weather friendships with such states will come at an unacceptably high price: They may catastrophically compromise counter-terrorist military and intelligence operations, or simply impede such operations sufficiently as to preclude them from being successful.

Even if we could reliably manage the risks of such ties to our servicemen and women and intelligence operatives — and to the accomplishment of the dangerous missions immediately at hand in Afghanistan and elsewhere, we will have done relatively little to diminish international terrorism if, in the end, most of its sponsors remain unscathed, to say nothing of their being politically and morally rehabilitated by the United States.

An infinitely better, and far more realistic, approach would be to make up the anti- terrorist coalition of fellow democracies who share our commitment to freedom. In particular, it should rest on those nations who have also been the victims of terrorism at the hands of Islamic supremacists. Tunku Varadarajan argues persuasively in today’s Wall Street Journal for relying in particular on Turkey, India and Israel to get the job done. Such nations have few illusions about the nature of the war violently thrust upon us last week and are likely still to be there when the going gets tough.

At the end of the day, the Bush Administration’s integrity — as well as its stewardship of an enormously complex, difficult and costly war — requires that the President resist the temptation to forge a coalition whose ranks may give the appearance of being formidable, but whose effectiveness and cohesiveness will be fatally undermined by the inclusion of those who are every bit as much this nation’s enemies as those we must now fight.

State sponsors of terrorism should be wiped out, too

By Richard Perle

The Daily Telegraph, 18 September 2001

THERE is an air of Vichyite defeatism about some of the commentary in Britain on the current war on terrorism.

We constantly hear the reiteration of such themes as “We don’t know who the enemy is”, “We don’t know where to strike them”, “Even if we could find them, it would simply create more martyrs” and that “The Wretched of the Earth” (to use the title of Franz Fanon’s famous anti-colonial tract) are so desperate that they would not fear honourable death at the hands of what they see as the “Great Satan”.

The US Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and other senior Administration officials are quite right to say that it is a totally new kind of war which the Free World now faces. But even though it is new, the Vichyite contingent would be quite wrong to extrapolate from that that the US and its allies are impotent.

Even if we don’t yet know the whole story about last week’s atrocities, we know enough to act, and to act decisively. The truth is that the international community has not created a new world order in which sponsorship of terrorism by states is beyond the pale. Without the things that only states can provide – sanctuary, intelligence, logistics, training, communications, money – even the bin Laden network and others like it could manage only the occasional car bomb. Deprive the terrorists of the offices from which they now work, remove the vast infrastructure now supporting them and force them to sleep in a different place every night because they are hunted – and the scope of their activity will be sharply reduced.

Regimes supporting terrorism have many different motives. Some, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Syria, do so because they agree with the fanatical outlook of their proteges. Saddam Hussein, crazed by a desire for vengeance, pays the families of suicide bombers. The Saudis tolerate terrorism out of fear and weakness, hoping thereby to deflect them on to other potential victims.

We can, we must get governments out of the terrorism business. We do enjoy economic, political and military leverage over sovereign states, whose leaders do not crave martyrdom. There are, of course, precedents for such action. The Syrians permitted Armenian terrorists to operate freely from territory they control – until intolerable pressure from the Turkish government forced the Ba’athist regime to expel their “guests”. This resulted in a precipitate drop in terrorist attacks.

In recent years, there has been no penalty for tolerating or even abetting terrorism. After the bombing of the United States al-Khobar barracks in Saudi Arabia in 1996, the local authorities feared the consequences of further aggravating the perpetrators more than they feared American displeasure, and the investigation went nowhere.

As the US builds a coalition to combat terrorism, it must remember that including states that are themselves sponsors of terrorism, or ready to tolerate it, carries a heavy price. The last time around, in building the coalition to liberate Kuwait in 1990-91, we paid a cost which we should never again bear.

For example, Syria was invited to join the Gulf war coalition. Its military contribution to the campaign was minimal, yet in exchange for getting inside the western tent it obtained the latitude to continue the use of and the sponsorship of terrorism – especially in Lebanon. It has continued to destabilise the region. There are those who argue that even Yasser Arafat, a terrorist himself, who has recruited suicide bombers, commemorated their murderous acts, and ordered the assassination of American diplomats, should join the campaign to combat terrorism.

Today, there is even talk about bringing Syria, Iran and Libya into a new anti-terrorism front. But if these regimes want to get into the creditors’ club, as it were, then they must cease to be debtors. That means renouncing terrorism in word and apprehending terrorists in deed, now.

Depth of genuine commitment to the anti-terrorist cause must not be sacrificed for the sake of breadth. In other words, breadth and “inclusivity” must not become ends in themselves, especially if they compromise the moral basis of avenging the slaughter of innocents.

For example, Iran has its own reasons for supporting military action against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. But no one should confuse Iranian support for such action with an Iranian commitment to oppose terrorism. It is unthinkable that we could admit them into the coalition. An anti-terrorist coalition that has any reasonable prospect of success will be made up of countries that value democratic institutions, individual liberty and the sanctity of life.

It cannot include countries who repress their own people, violate fundamental human rights and scorn the fundamental values of western civilisation. Momentary, fleeting collaboration for immediate tactical advantage may make sense, as Churchill understood in joining with the Soviet Union to defeat Nazism. No coalition to defeat terrorism can include countries that countenance campaigns of hate and vilification. Countries that tolerate the incitement to kill civilians – Americans, Britons, Israelis and others – have no legitimate role in the war against terrorism.

Some countries may be unwilling or unable to participate in a coalition that demands a respect for the values and norms of western civilisation. The nature of their hold on power may be inconsistent with genuine opposition to terrorism. Such countries are part of the problem, not the solution, and we neither need their help nor would benefit from their professions of support.

Those countries that harbour terrorists – that provide the means with which they would destroy innocent civilians – must themselves be destroyed. The war against terrorism is about the war against those regimes. We will not win the war against terror by chasing individual terrorists, any more than we will win the war against drugs by arresting the “mules” who pass through Heathrow. It is the networks that send young men on suicide missions and their sponsors that must be destroyed.

America’s Allies for the Long Haul

By Tunku Varadarajan

The Wall Street Journal, 19 September 2001

In the war against Islamic terrorism — and not merely in the impending strikes against its practitioners in Afghanistan — the U.S. should be aware that there are two classes of ally among the many states to which it will turn for cooperation.

The first is the kind whose common cause will emerge, ad hoc, with each battle, and whose enthusiasm for an anti-terrorist crusade will depend on the regional or strategic contours of each engagement. This kind of ally might accurately be described as opportunistic, or mercurial, and an example would be Pakistan, whose military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, has formally — albeit through gritted teeth — offered logistical support to U.S. ground and air forces.

The second, truer kind of ally is the one whose support for any war on Islamic terror is not opportunistic, but instinctive and philosophical. Its fight against this terror is driven by the deepest conviction; indeed, its fight is driven also by dire need, for not to fight would spell doom for its society, and for its civilization.

A perfect example of this kind of state, and ally, would be Israel, whose very existence depends, daily, on combating and overcoming terror. Another example is India, which grapples with organized Islamic terrorism — both state-sponsored and freelance — on a scale that no country, bar Israel, can match. A third example is Turkey, which, while a state of Muslims, is not a Muslim state.

Outside the Western world, as geographically defined, these three states are perhaps the only ones on which the U.S. can count, virtually unconditionally, to show an immutable opposition to Islamic terrorism. Crucially, they are all situated at terrorist nodes, in a vast, seething region in which Islamic states are heavily preponderant.

Israel is surrounded by hostile forces that seek its extirpation from this earth; Turkey borders Iran and Iraq, but its aversion to militant Islam stems as much from cartographical misfortune as from its own Ataturkist history. India shares a border with Pakistan, whose Interservices Intelligence not only helped establish the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, but also hosts about a dozen major terrorist training camps on Pakistani soil.

These camps are now temporarily closed for business, and for the first time in over a year, Indian troops have recorded no border incursions by terrorist infiltrators. Gen. Musharraf, left with no choice but to accede to Washington’s demands, has scrambled to ensure that America’s laser gaze is not fixed also on the groups that enjoy Pakistani sponsorship. These include names which are as yet unfamiliar in the West, but which are, in India, as much the stuff of dread as Hamas is in Israel, or the Hizbollah. They are the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, the Harkat-ul-Jehadi-Islami, the Tehreek-e-Jehadi-Islami, the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, and the Jaish-e-Mohammad, whose Afghan and Pakistani cadres wage holy war on Indian soil.

The U.S. would do well to encourage the formation of an anti-terror alliance between India, Israel and Turkey. In the long-term war against Islamic terrorism, these are the states in the region with a visceral need to vanquish Islamic fundamentalism, as well as the military capability to fight it. Importantly, they can be relied on to keep their resolve, for they will not be fighting as proxy combatants. Their separate wars against the expansionist forces of militant Islam predate that of the U.S.

Besides, India is in a position to take on a major role as a leader of a global anti-terrorism alliance, unencumbered, as it is, by Israel’s diplomatic disadvantages. It is inconceivable, for example, that Muslim Arab states would object to the participation of Indian troops in an anti-terrorist enforcement action. An Israeli presence, on the other hand, would have the effect of fracturing any broader coalition.

Turkey, for its part, would be an almost indispensable member of this alliance. Indeed, if the military and strategic assault on Islamic terrorists is to be accompanied by an intellectual and cultural offensive, what better example than Turkey’s to demonstrate that a distinction can be made between an Islam that is secular and one that is intolerant, aggressive and terroristic. The threat of the spread of such militant Islam into Central Asia can be checked by an India-Turkey alliance, and with the secular “Turkification” of the old Silk Road countries.

In the war against Islamic terrorism, the U.S. needs allies who are in it for the long haul, not ones who pick and choose their battles, laying conditions that vary from time to time. India, Israel and Turkey — collectively and, where necessary, discretely — can give Washington the sort of stable, unwavering comradeship in arms and ideas that President Bush (and, let’s face it, his successors) will need, at least for another generation.

This is not going to be a brief war, nor will there be a swift, decisive victory. The U.S. must choose its allies well, and give them the assurance, too, of unflinching support and friendship. Only then will Islamic terror, currently so grotesque and violent, be snuffed out.

Center for Security Policy

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