These are my random musings. Hopefully they will be witty, insightful, and frequently updated.
How would you advise our next president?
Published on September 5, 2007 By singrdave In War on Terror
As a campaign adviser to one candidate seeking nomination for the 2008 Presidential election, you have been asked to write a brief position paper on the question of whether the United States should redouble its efforts to negotiate a consensus definition of terrorism. What should the US position be and why?

In creating a comprehensive, workable look forward for the United States’ (US) counterterrorism effort, it is vital that the US take the lead. It is in America’s best interest to help the rest of the planet come to a consensus on what terrorism actually is. The consistent US position has been that neither civilized nations nor citizens of such nations engage in terrorism. However, lacking a definitive consensus on terrorism, we as a civilization will be unable to fight it. There are many nations already on board with anti-terrorism legislation on their books: like-minded nations in Europe and South America agree with the US in principle and legislation. However, the complicated diplomatic efforts will be convincing states that endorse, prosper, or allow terrorism within their borders. Those who seek redress and justice should pursue the higher road rather than violence and chaos.

Consensus can only be achieved when countries are able to look dispassionately at terrorism. Previous attempts to define terrorism have ended in deadlock. There are many who feel that terrorism is justified, either as a struggle against a better-armed governmental foe or as a method for enacting social change. The Palestinians fight against Israel in order to get their land back – the Palestinian contention is that they were dispossessed and must fight to reclaim their lands against the Zionist invaders and their helpers in the UN. The Kurds fight for their ancestral homeland against the Turks, Iranians, and Iraqis – attempting to cleave their own nation out of the lines drawn thousands of miles away upon the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Governments are not exempt from the label of terrorist: in their fight against Chechen separatists, the Russian military has engaged in heinous acts. Libya’s president Moammar Qadhafi has advocated, trained, and funded terrorism throughout the Middle East for years. Governments are not above terrorist leanings and must be called to account for their decisions.

Terrorism must be viewed in its rightful context: a repugnant crime against humanity. The US is obligated to bring other nations on board, defining terrorism as a governmental or extra-governmental organization seeking social or political change through violent means. There is very little if any nuance allowable within a definition of terrorism.

Such bold schemes will require the US to work within the constructs that already exist: namely, the United Nations (UN), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the rest of the world’s supernational groups. The UN must be called upon to provide development opportunities to nations experiencing a youth bulge. This will come through both education and having opportunities created for these nations. This can be best enacted by UN mandate, because of the many multinational organizations it has the most clout and financial ability to get the job done. As well, all nations will have to submit their activities to international courts – this includes the United States. It is hypocritical for the US to hold other nations responsible for their action or inaction while exempting ourselves from similar accountability. With the threat of International Criminal Court (ICC) or International Court of Justice (ICJ) proceedings against those groups or nations who engage in crimes against humanity – which reflects the full measure of heinousness inherent in terrorism – nations will be reluctant to engage in state-sponsored terrorism. Without a workable, universally accepted definition of terrorism, there can be no legal proceedings against those who perpetrate such violent chaos.

The biggest factor in getting a comprehensive definition of terrorism is US advocacy. American clout is still the largest weapon we possess. The world goes the way the US goes, especially when America assumes the moral high ground. America cannot effectively fight a Global War on Terror if there is no accepted definition of terrorism. Utilizing American soft power to this end has the derivative potential to also restore confidence in American leadership.

on Sep 05, 2007
Because a CT strategy is a terrible thing to waste.