In the continuing saga of why terrorism is not America's primary strategic concern, we have an enlightening article in the National Journal entitled, "Terrorism: The Threat" (sorry, subscription required). Authors Hegland and Webb look past the ahistoric comparisons to the Soviet threat and conclude that a nuclear armed extremist group is extremely unlikely. But there is a twist.
If somehow a nuclear device did detonate on American soil, Washington would be forced with a choice of responding in kind—but as Hegland and Webb write, "You can't nuke an underground network. And you can't pre-empt it by wiping out Tehran, Pyongyang or Karachi, without killing hundreds of thousands of innocents and thereby murdering the idea of America." Or, would we accede to terrorist demands and "be willing to abandon Israel, to pull out of Iraq, and to allow sharia law in America?"
Clearly, we need to avoid getting into that situation. But wouldn't that mean focusing our entire attention on terrorism?
No. The source of the problem is not some external empire. Terrorist networks feed off of the festering injustices in their homelands. The 9/11 Commission said as much when it said terrorists were motivated by U.S. policy in the Middle East.
By focusing on terrorism, we're only exacerbating the problem. Yesterday, my colleague Alex Walker noted that the U.K. insurance company AON confirmed that terrorism is on the rise largely because of the war on terror. As I've mentioned before, Michael Klare reports that the Bush administration is not reversing, but rather, expanding the application of the Carter Doctrine—the policy that securitized Persian Gulf oil supplies, placing stability above democracy—to other oil-producing regions.
Terrorism is a symptom of a deeper problem. The problem is that we're not willing to face up to our unsustainable economy; an economy dependent on cheap oil, ecosystem depletion and mounting debt. If that is the case, the foundation of any new grand strategy must be domestic, with foreign policy working to address the long term injustices as well as the short-term threats. It's called draining the swamp.
And we don't have much time. America has to be seen as changing its course soon. Looming larger than the unknowns of terrorism is the economic perfect storm of energy prices, crushing debt, climate change and ecosystem depletion—threats very evident to Archbishop of Canterbury.
But too many Democrats are unwilling to acknowledge that causal chain that leads back home. Instead of ending the terrorist threat, that lack of courage could end America.
| Tuesday 11:32 AM