«Rien n'est plus facile que de dénoncer un malfaiteur; rien n'est plus difficile que de le comprendre» ---Fédor Dostoïevski

jeudi 14 mai 2009

Pope: Recommendations pour Obama

Je recopie ci-dessous cet excellent texte de William P. Pope, ancien coordinateur pour le contre-terrorisme au Département de Sécurité Nationale américain, publié par Europe's World. Il s'agit de recommendations pour le Président Obama en matière de lutte contre le terrorisme. C'est selon moi un texte sobre (pas toujours le cas dans cette littérature) qui reprend bien un grand nombre des aspects de la lutte contre le terrorisme, malgré la longueur limitée de l'article. Ce sont en tout cas des recommendations que je partage en grande partie.

Confronting global terrorism: recommendations for the US president
Author : William P. Pope

As the President of the United States, you are tasked with confronting a world of unprecedented complexity. One of the most vexing problems, but only one of many, is global terrorism. It is at least a generational problem and likely more. While the Bush Administration did much right in the days after 9/11, it went seriously off track in Iraq, which diminished the effort in Afghanistan. Domestically, it undermined our civil liberties and took other wrong steps. For the sake of the country and the success of your administration, you must speak clearly and forthrightly to your fellow Americans and our friends abroad. You cannot be the “action officer” on every daily twist and turn of our counterterrorism efforts, but you set the moral direction and make the most important policy decisions. Therefore, you must have a broader world view and greater personal understanding of world history and the relationship of current events to that history and to each other. It is essential that you understand and respect other countries, societies and religions and not view them through ideology-tinged glasses or as Americans at a remove.

In making and leading US counterterrorism and homeland security policy, please keep a few key points in mind. They include:

Terrorism is not new: Terrorism did not just spring up, fully formed, on September 11, 2001. Secular terrorists hijacked an El Al airliner in 1968. We are also reminded of the massacre of the 1972 Israeli team in Munich. In Europe, there was a long struggle, not yet entirely won, against the Red Brigades, IRA, ETA and others. Numerous attacks against the US, from Beirut to New York to East Africa to Aden, pre-dated 9/11. Terrorism is not a 21st-century phenomenon.

Terrorism is not an existential threat to the US: Yes, Osama bin Laden hopes to acquire a nuclear weapon. He surely would use it, if he could. That said, remember that the Soviet missile threat was an existential one. Bin Laden and other murderers cannot destroy the United States and cannot undermine our way of life, unless we let fear do it for them.

Keep terrorism in perspective: Therefore, it is essential that your administration keeps terrorism in perspective. Combating terrorism is an essential duty, but you and your colleagues at the top of the government must set the example and be seen to be calm and resolute. Resist recommendations to stoke public emotion and fear, even if doing so might be of short-term political advantage. The US has confronted and defeated much worse. So have our allies. Even if al-Qaeda manages to set off a nuclear device in a US city, we must not again resort to counterproductive actions, such as widespread incarceration of Muslim-Americans; brusque treatment of our allies (“with us or against us”); glaring lack of understanding of other cultures; and questionable approach towards the very civil liberties our country stands for. Former CIA operative Glenn Carle wrote recently that “We must not delude ourselves about the nature of the terrorist threat to our country. We must not take fright at the specter that our leaders have exaggerated.” Carle is right. I suggest that you bring in balanced experts like Carle, as early as possible in your term, for a reality-check on the factual state of international terrorism and how to confront it.

Terrorism is a tactic, not an ideology: We need to prevent and mitigate terrorist acts while doing what is, in some ways, the more difficult thing - understanding who uses this tactic and why. Are terrorists really just “crazy dead-enders?” Kremlinologists studied the Soviet Union in order to understand better how to contain it. Now, we must understand terrorists and their motivations. Willful ignorance will not do. Many terrorists are well-educated and seemingly very normal, especially the leaders. Several experts, such as psychiatrists Jerrold Post and Marc Sageman, have done extensive studies of the terrorist mindset. Your administration should make a point of consulting such experts early and often.

We must be patient: The terrorists are. Bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, wrote that “the Crusaders in Palestine and Syria left after two centuries of continued jihad.” While the FBI and others have worked hard, it may be that such patience on the part of the terrorists is why we have not been struck again. Al-Qaeda waited eight years between the first World Trade Center attack and 9/11. The struggle against terrorism will be generational. The previous administration pledged to carry on the global fight against terrorism until “victory” and until the terrorists were “defeated.” Many people think of “victory” as the signing of a surrender document on the deck of an aircraft carrier. As devoutly as we wish it, such a “victory” will not happen. As with the War on Drugs and War on Poverty, this struggle against global extremism and terrorism cannot be “won,” in the classical sense. Even if bin Laden were captured and forced to sign a document, al-Qaeda and regional terrorist groups would carry on. There will be no quick fix.

Words Matter: The “War on...” formulation is one we Americans understand. Earlier administrations fought “wars” on drugs, illiteracy and poverty. The Global War on Terrorism - GWOT - is an easy short-hand. Unfortunately, much of the world hears this term negatively, as an over-militarisation of the response. The leaders of our major European allies have banned the use of the “war” term. Even former Secretary Rumsfeld recognised that we needed different terminology. One of my students recently proposed “Multilateral Coalition Against Terrorism.” That term hits some important positive notes for our allies. Useful for us Americans is that MCAT is a pronounceable acronym. Your counterterrorism experts surely can devise a better term than the GWOT.

Iraq is not the front line: You should be clear with the public that Iraq is not and was not the front line against terrorism. Saddam did aid secular terrorists, but not al-Qaeda. In fact, Saddam was the kind of secular ruler who would have been in bin Laden’s sights, sooner or later. Further, you should make clear that your administration does not subscribe to assertions that we were drawing the world’s terrorists into Iraq in order to eliminate them. This assumes that there is a finite number of terrorists to do away with. Also, it was never possible that al-Qaeda would “take over” post-Saddam Iraq. Iraqis, even the insurgents, would not turn over their country to outsiders, such as the Egyptians, Saudis and others who populate al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Pakistan is the front line: The Pakistan-Afghan border is the front line against global terrorism. Bin Laden and Zawahiri almost certainly are there, and al-Qaeda has made considerable progress in reconstituting the capabilities it lost in Afghanistan. Planning for another 9/11 or worse surely is going on there. Your administration must find a way to continue the hunt for the al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan without destabilising the government in Islamabad. At the same time, it is urgent that major military and development efforts be made in Afghanistan to halt the deterioration there and suppress the Taliban to the maximum. Iraq was a huge mistake that led to the diminution of effort in Afghanistan. You must reverse it.

Not primarily a military struggle: We truly must use all instruments of national power to suppress extremists and terrorists. The previous administration over-militarised the struggle. It was seen primarily as a war and the military as the principal instrument for dealing with it around the globe. Those who understood that the struggle is primarily an intelligence and international law enforcement matter were often dismissed. Nonetheless, combating al-Qaeda and other stateless groups is more akin to fighting organised crime and the drug cartels. While the US military appropriately has the lead in Iraq and Afghanistan, the world is made up of sovereign countries where outside military forces cannot operate openly and in any significant numbers without an invitation from the government. With the US military in a strong supporting role, our diplomatic, law enforcement and intelligence assets must be the principal tools used to bolster and press other governments and their security forces. Sometimes, US individuals or very small groups may be required to achieve a particular task in a non-permissive environment, but this is not the preferred route. Remember that terrorists who kill innocents in a market or destroy commercial aircraft are criminals. They are not an army and should not be granted “warrior” or military-like status. They are criminals and must be brought to justice or eliminated.

This is not a war on Islam: Despite President Bush’s measured language and visits to mosques, the extremist media have done an impressive job of painting our fight against terrorism as an attack on Islam. As part of your dialogue with the American people and the world, you and your administration should find convincing ways to deliver the correct message. Remember that a small group of people has seized upon a few verses of the Qur’an and the writings of select scholars to justify criminal acts - mass murder, beheadings and violent attacks on the US, its friends and many Muslims.

Root causes: Be careful about “root causes” arguments. You may hear assertions that, if the US finally solved the Arab-Israeli conflict, then terrorism would dry up. This is not correct. We should exert our considerable weight in a serious, sustained and balanced effort to achieve a Middle East settlement. Such a wonderful outcome should take a good bit of the rhetorical heat out of condemnations of the United States, but bin Laden’s “concern” for the Palestinians is more recent. For many years, he was focused on the Saudi royal family and then on the US and Saudi Arabia. There is no prospect that a Middle East settlement would lead al-Qaeda to stop targeting the US and its friends.

Losing the “War of Ideas:” The quick and decisive military victories in Afghanistan in 2001-02 and Iraq in 2003 were what the world expected from us. Therefore, people around the world have been amazed at how badly we have fared against Islamist media efforts, particularly against Zawahiri and al-Qaeda’s al-Sahab production unit. This is not primarily a matter of moving the public diplomacy boxes around or reconstituting the US Information Agency. We certainly can improve in that area, and your administration should take a close look at what is optimal. Further, there is much that can be done quietly to make it more difficult for al-Sahab and others to spew out hatred and lies. It is essential, however, that we not give terrorists unnecessary openings by using inflammatory language or by being seen as indifferent or hopelessly biased on issues of importance within the larger Islamic world, such as the Arab-Israeli conflict. Al-Qaeda’s slaughter of fellow Muslims in Iraq, Jordan and elsewhere has begun to turn the tide against the organisation, but your administration can speed up this welcome trend. Again, there are balanced experts in and outside of government who understand how to deal with and reverse current negative media trends.

Repairing our image: Reversing the catastrophic decline in the US global image is a matter of national security. This is not just a question of needing to be liked or regaining the status of “Shining City on the Hill.” We are the principal target for al-Qaeda and an important target for regional terrorist groups. Therefore, we must be able to exercise global leadership on the MCAT (or whatever you choose to call it). It is clear that we cannot find and disrupt every terrorist cell in every country in the world. It is up to the local governments and security forces to do so. This is more than just a matter of ineptitude in public diplomacy. This is primarily actions-based and is related to our policies. If our own actions, such as Guantanamo, torture and domestic spying, make it difficult for other governments and security forces to work with us in rooting out those cells, that is a major negative for us. We cannot suppress global terrorism on our own.

Undermining our values: “Burning down the village to save it” is wrong and makes no sense. Among the many things that made the US great and a beacon to the world was our commitment to the Constitution, civil liberties and the rule of law. Remember that al-Qaeda cannot destroy or change the US. Only we can change our country, and we have taken steps in that regard that have been public relations gifts to bin Laden. You must urgently return all elements of our government to adherence to law and basic norms. You should outlaw torture, stop wiretapping not approved by the FISA court, close Guantanamo and abolish military tribunals. You have seen the newspaper reports that a CIA study determined that some one-third of Guantanamo detainees were there by mistake. A senior US military officer judged the percentage to be higher. Alleged criminals must be brought into the civil legal system, or at least some version of it. Surely, our best legal minds can find a fix for presenting sensitive evidence in a civil court. One proposal was the creation of a special National Security Court, where the judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys all have security clearances. We may not be able to regain “Shining City” status during one administration, but we can return to being true to our own constitution and values. It is right for our country. Our partners and friends abroad will welcome it, as well.

Reflections on the Mumbai attacks

U.S. Policy: The attack should end once and for all any lingering assertions (if there have been any since January 20) that Iraq is the front line in the global struggle against terrorism and extremism. It isn’t now and never was. Afghanistan was and still is very dangerous, but Pakistan is THE front line in the global fight. Even if the government and army somehow manage to beat back the extremists inside the heart of Pakistan, it is hard to see how they will be able to dislodge al-Qaeda and the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban from the border region. While they may not have quite as extensive training and planning facilities in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) as they had in Afghanistan, the terrorists have a good bit of space to operate. I have no doubt that major attacks against the U.S. and Europe are being planned right now in those areas.

President Obama and the U.S. administration should continue reaching out to the Islamic world and should build and emphasize “soft power” and much more skillful public diplomacy. That said, the U.S. must take a firm line with the “irreconcilables,” including al-Qaeda and most of the Taliban. In my view, we need to keep great pressure on the terrorists along the Af-Pak border, including kinetic action that is as carefully honed as possible. There are downsides, but another 9/11-level attack launched from the FATA region would have terrible consequences all around.

EU Policy: It is easy for an American to say, but Europe should significantly step up the fight against global terrorism across the board – troops in action in dangerous places; military training, development assistance, public diplomacy, etc. Mumbai reminds everyone that terrorist attack planning continues, regardless of the world economy and of the leaders who come and go in the West. Just as I am sure that attacks against the U.S are being hatched in Pakistan, I am equally certain that European targets are getting their share of terrorist brain power.

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