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02 July 2002

Expert Sees More Proactive U.S. Policy Against Terrorism

(Raphael Perl addresses German Council on Foreign Relations) (5050)
Recent statements by President Bush and other top administration
officials have made it increasingly clear that the United States is in
the process of adopting a more proactive policy in the war against
terrorism, a U.S. expert says.
Raphael Perl, a specialist in international affairs with the
Congressional Research Service, said July 2 that U.S. anti-terrorism
policy is moving:
-- from a policy of containment to one of preemption,
-- from a policy of limited retaliatory use of military force to a
policy of preemptive decisive military use of force,
-- from a policy of limited covert activity to a policy of enhanced
covert action where the policy emphasis is on action and not
restrictions.
Perl stressed that the United States remains committed to using force
sparingly and only as a last resort, seeking "first and foremost ...
active implementation of a broad range of diplomatic, legal and
economic measures" to curb terrorism. But in today's "enhanced threat
environment," he said, "the range of options [available] to those who
implement U.S. policy is being broadened." Perl spoke on "Terrorism
and United States Foreign Policy" to the German Council on Foreign
Relations in Berlin.
He said there appears to be "a growing pragmatic trend in policy
circles to define terrorism by the nature of the act and not the
motivation behind it." This definition recognizes that " a terrorist
act can be defined in terms which go beyond traditional concepts of
physical injury, destruction, and fear to include grave economic
damage," he said.
Perl said U.S. policymakers also are placing increasing emphasis on
these areas:
-- International cooperation and diplomacy. "Without international
cooperation, a global war on terrorism is doomed to fail. Central to
administration policy is a working coalition which links together a
whole range of national capabilities of differing countries including
diplomatic, military, economic, intelligence, law enforcement, and
technological capabilities with relevance to combating terrorism."
-- Enhancing the capacity of other nations to combat terrorism. "This
includes enhancing the ability of law enforcement agencies, the
banking community, and national legal frameworks to deal with
terrorism. It includes urging nations to commit more funding to
counter terrorism; it includes providing technical expertise in areas
such as data management or forensics. It includes military and police
training as well."
-- Using economic assistance to combat terrorism. "Since September
11th, Congress has provided approximately an additional three billion
(3,000 million) dollars in economic and security assistance to combat
terrorism overseas. Although not formally stated, a strategy seems to
be quietly emerging to broaden foreign assistance as one means of
taking away fertile breeding ground for the nurturing of terrorist
groups."
-- Protecting the U.S. homeland. "This includes emphasis on securing
the borders, securing U.S. sea and air ports, and a recent emphasis on
enhancing seaport security of U.S. maritime trading partners."
Perl highlighted some of the issues and challenges that modern
terrorism and the emerging U.S. framework for response pose to
European policymakers.
Since September 11, he said, Americans "have significantly changed how
they view terrorism and how they view the gravity of the threat."
Europe "has had the experience of viewing terrorism in a long term
historical context. We can learn from each other here."
He stressed that "national or regional isolationism no longer works
for terrorism.... Today, when terrorism hits one victim, it hits us
all. When terrorism incubates in other countries, this has immediate
relevance for our own security."
Warning that "preemptive action, and the threat thereof, is a potent
policy tool," Perl said the challenge to U.S. and European
policymakers "is to exercise such options wisely and to recognize
which situations can be improved by use of preemptive action and which
not."
An added challenge, he said, is to ensure that preemptive action "does
not result in nations being unnecessarily isolated from the coalition
efforts we all seek to promote."
Following is the text of Perl's prepared remarks:
(begin text)
Terrorism and United States Foreign Policy
Remarks by Raphael Perl, Specialist in International Affairs,
Congressional Research Service, before the German Council on Foreign
Relations, Berlin, Germany, July 2, 2002.
I thank you for your kind invitation to address this distinguished
group.
When we in the United States and you in Germany address the issue of
terrorism, although the physical distance between us is great, we
stand on common ground. Both of our nations have lost lives to
terrorism in the World Trade Center. Both of our nations have lost
lives to terrorism in past violence against our citizens at home, and
against our citizens abroad. Both of our nations share a strong
commitment to combat this growing and deadly threat. Both of our
nations share a strong commitment to the protection of democratic
principles and human rights.
My remarks today on Terrorism and United States Foreign Policy will
address this issue of common concern. I will focus on U.S.
anti-terrorism policy in the wake of September 11th and conclude by
highlighting some issues and challenges the complexities of 21st
century terrorism pose to European and German decisionmakers.
"War on Terrorism"
It is impossible to discuss United States counterterrorism policy in
the wake of September 11th without use of the word "war". U.S. leaders
have repeatedly characterized recent terrorist actions and America's
response to the tragedy and horror of September 11th as a global "war"
which threatens the national security of America, its allies, our open
and democratic way of life, and indeed the future of the world.
Certainly the casualty levels -- close to 3,000 persons dead,
including twelve Germans in the World Trade Center attack -- are
consistent what is commonly perceived as war. Certainly, United States
led operations in Afghanistan look like war.
Yet many, especially outside the United States, see the phrase "War on
Terrorism" as a misnomer. When members of the public think of war in
its traditional sense, one generally thinks of nations fighting
nations. When military tacticians think of war, they tend to think in
terms of superior military firepower to be used against enemies who
are clearly identified. Legal scholars, when they think of war, tend
to think in terms of universally accepted rules of conduct or
constraints. Traditionally wars end in a decisive victory or
negotiated peace.
But the war on terrorism defies many, if not all, of these notions.
Most of all, it is not likely to have a decisive end. On the
international diplomatic front, the global war on terrorism it is more
akin to an initiative -- an ongoing process of indefinite duration.
Wars are won or lost, but initiatives are measured in degrees of
success as the years pass. That is what we will face for the
foreseeable future: measured success, not victory.
Four Enduring Principles of U.S. Policy
It is equally not feasible to discuss America's post-September 11th
anti-terrorism policy without reference to the four pillars of U. S.
policy most recently reiterated in the State Department's April 2002
Patterns of Global Terrorism report. The report highlights "four
enduring policy principles" of U.S. counterterrorism strategy as laid
out by President Bush:
-- First, make no concessions to terrorists and strike no deals,
-- Second, bring terrorists to justice for their crimes,
-- Third, isolate and apply pressure on states that sponsor terrorism
to force them to change their behavior, and
-- Fourth, bolster the counterterrorist capabilities of those
countries that work with the United States and require assistance.
New and Developing U.S. Policy Trends
As these four principles demonstrate, much in U.S. policy in the wake
of September 11th has remained the same. But much has changed, is
changing, and can be expected to change in the future. As the threat
of terrorism evolves and is reinforced by the advent of real attacks
and not just the potential for attacks, the strategies and tactics of
those who seek to counter terrorism will evolve as well.
Today, indications are strong that the Bush Administration is adopting
a policy mindset for countering terrorism dramatically different from
that of previous years. A framework for America's new policy mindset
is becoming increasingly clear, namely that three situations exist
that the United States is unwilling to accept: (1) terrorists
targeting of innocent civilians, (2) leaders of countries pursuing
weapons of mass destruction for offensive purposes, and (3) leaders of
countries harboring terrorists. As President Bush said in his May 23rd
remarks to your Bundestag: "there can be no lasting security in a
world of terrorists...for my nation or for any nation."
Adoption of a More Proactive Policy
It is becoming increasingly clear, as well, that the United States is
in the process of adopting a more proactive policy to achieve its
goals. As a nation that has experienced the horrors and costs of
September 11th, as a nation that has experienced a taste of what
catastrophic terrorism may bring in the future, America's leaders
believe they can no longer afford the luxury of relying on strategies
and tactics that allow potentially catastrophic attacks to happen and
after they are over, to react to them. Elements of such a proactive
strategy will undoubtedly be incorporated into the Administration's
first National Security Strategy likely to be released early in the
fall
Today, in the United States, we see major policy shifts emerging.
Anti- terrorism policy is moving:
-- from a policy of containment to one of preemption,
-- from a policy of limited retaliatory use of military force to a
policy of preemptive decisive military use of force,
-- from a policy of limited covert activity to a policy of enhanced
covert action where the policy emphasis is on action and not
restrictions.
This is not to downplay an overriding U.S. commitment to use force
sparingly and only as a last resort. First and foremost, United States
policy seeks active implementation of a broad range of diplomatic,
legal and economic measures designed to curb the activities of
terrorist organizations and state sponsors. What is happening in
today's enhanced threat environment, is that the range of options
[available] to those who implement U.S. policy is being broadened; the
portfolio of available operational tools is being expanded.
In his June 1st address to graduating cadets at the West Point
Military Academy, President Bush focused on the unprecedented nature
of the defense challenge facing the United States and the world. He
stressed that "the gravest danger to freedom lies at the perilous
crossroads of radicalism and technology." In carefully crafted
language, the President announced that "The war on terror will not be
won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt
his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge.... [O]ur
security will require all Americans to be forward-looking and
resolute, to be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend
our liberty and defend our lives."
In what commentators generally view as paving the ground for a new
policy framework, a so-called "Bush Doctrine", the President stressed
that "deterrence-the promise of massive retaliation against nations
means nothing against shadowy terrorist networks with no nation or
citizens to defend. Containment is not possible when unbalanced
dictators with weapons of mass destruction can deliver them ....to
terrorist allies.... If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we
will have waited too long."
Two weeks later, on June 15th, Secretary of State Colin Powell,
announced to reporters what some refer to as the "terrorism corollary"
to the Powell Doctrine which holds in part that the United States
should be cautious in commitment of force, but once committed, force
should be overwhelming. Powell reportedly stressed that President
Bush's new preemption policy could be used to justify an attack
against a country as well as against a stateless terrorist
organization.
Similarly, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a June 17th Pentagon
briefing emphasized that: "It is simply a conscious decision on the
part of the President of the United States, and I believe the
overwhelming majority of the American people, and certainly the
Congress, that in the event you have people who are determined and
dedicated to killing innocent men, women and children, that the only
thing you can do is to try to find them and stop them. And that is
what this global war on terrorism is all about."
Enhanced Reliance on Covert Operations
Indications are strong that covert operations will become an
increasingly active component of America's anti-terror strategy. Press
reports indicate that in February 2002, President Bush approved a
covert plan to topple Saddam Hussein, which directs the CIA to use all
available tools including special teams authorized to kill current
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein if acting in self defense. Such reports
dovetail with ongoing references by Administration officials of a need
to carry on the war behind the scenes.
Press reports indicate as well that the United States is approaching
the point where it may be willing to consider authorizing selective
targeting of individual terrorists and their leaders when facing grave
and imminent terrorist threats and when prudent self-defense warrants
such activity. The United States' prohibition of assassinations has
long been the object of criticism within Administrations and Congress.
Critics have consistently argued that past anti-terrorism policies
that permitted targeting of terrorist infrastructure, but not
individuals, had the potential of causing unnecessary civilian deaths
as it is a common practice for terrorists to locate infrastructure in
heavily populated civilian areas. Today, a viewpoint which permits
selective targeting of terrorists is arguably gaining ground in
Administration policy circles at least under circumstances where such
action constitutes "self defense".
Defining Terrorism by the Act and Not by the Motivation Generating the
Act.
A U.S. statutory definition of terrorism [22USC 2656f(d)], frequently
cited, defines terrorism as premeditated politically motivated
violence against non-combatants by groups or individuals, usually
intended to influence an audience.
Nevertheless, there appears to be a growing pragmatic trend in policy
circles to define terrorism by the nature of act and not the
motivation behind it. Pushing such definitional criteria to the limit,
it becomes immaterial whether or not motivation is "political". Also,
under such new definitional criteria, the form of "violence" employed
can be non-traditional such as a cyber attack. Inherent in such an
evolving definitional framework is recognition that a terrorist act
can be defined in terms which go beyond traditional concepts of
physical injury, destruction, and fear to include grave economic
damage. This dovetails with the avowed objectives of a network like al
Qaida, which see attacking America's economy and the global economic
system as central objectives.
After the anthrax mailings in the U.S., President Bush expressed a
growing national sentiment when he announced that anyone who sends
something deadly like anthrax through the mail is a terrorist. The
President's remarks came at a time when the FBI was considering
whether the motive for the attacks might be economic profit by some
individual with a financial stake in vaccine development -hardly a
traditional "political" terrorist motivation.
More recently, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld in a June 13th response to a
press question whether Kashmiri militants were freedom fighters or
terrorists replied: "anyone who goes around and kills innocent men,
women, and children is a terrorist quite apart from what goes rattling
around in their heads as to why they do it."
Additional Areas of Policy Emphasis
In addition to the counter-terrorism policy trends and developments
cited above, U.S. policymakers are placing increasing emphasis on: (1)
international cooperation and diplomacy; (2) enhancing the capacity of
other nations to combat terrorism; (3) using economic assistance to
combat terrorism, and (4) protecting the U.S. homeland.
Enhancing Emphasis on International Cooperation and Diplomacy
The events of September 11th and their aftermath have poignantly
emphasized that terrorism is a long term global problem, with global
membership and reach, and that a global response is required. Central
to success in combating international terrorism is international
cooperation. Without international cooperation, a global war on
terrorism is doomed to fail. Central to Administration policy is a
working coalition which links together a whole range of national
capabilities of differing countries including diplomatic, military,
economic, intelligence, law enforcement, and technological
capabilities with relevance to combating terrorism.
This does not mean that each nation is expected to offer the same in
the same degree. Each nation, it is hoped, will bring to the table
what it can to the degree that it is able. Nor, does such a coalition
concept preempt the right or need for nations to take unilateral,
bi-lateral or multilateral action independent of the coalition when
full consensus is not available or operational necessity dictates.
Many promising and new initiatives have been spawned as a result of
this U.S. led coalition drive. Initiatives and enhanced cooperative
efforts with organizations as the U.N., the EU, and the OAS, with the
foreign media, with nations such as Sudan, Libya, and for a short
period of time, even with Iran. Pursing such a diplomatic front also
forces the U.S. and coalition partners to deal with a multitude of
problems that complicate a global anti-terrorism agenda, issues such
as the Kashmir and Middle East disputes, corrupt regimes and
potentates in the Middle East, and to a lesser degree issues of
sustainable development and global poverty. In theory, a nation such
as the United States would be less prone to independent action which
might bypass an organization like NATO on terrorism issues than
perhaps in the past, because of our newly enhanced emphasis on
diplomacy.
Enhancing the Capacity of Nations to Combat Terrorism
If we examine U.S. anti-terrorism policy in the wake of the events of
September 11th one sees added emphasis on enhancing the capacity of
nations to combat terrorism This includes enhancing the ability of law
enforcement agencies, the banking community, and national legal
frameworks to deal with terrorism. It includes urging nations to
commit more funding to counter terrorism; it includes providing
technical expertise in areas such as data management or forensics. It
includes military and police training as well. Germany, for example,
has taken a lead role in equipping and training the Afghan police
forces.
Central to this effort is the United States Anti-terrorism Assistance
Program which has trained more than 35,000 officials from 152
countries in the past seventeen years.
When discussing the capacity of nations to combat terrorism, one issue
which regularly arises in the context of the U.S. federal system is
how to achieve better coordination between federal, state and local
levels of government. I expect this may well be an issue in Germany
and other European nations and that we have much to learn from our
respective experiences.
Enhancing Economic Incentives in Conjunction with the Threat of
Sanctions
Another trend appears to be emerging in U.S. anti-terrorism policy:
that of enhancing emphasis on foreign assistance as a tool in the
anti-terror portfolio. Since September 11th, Congress has provided
approximately an additional three billion dollars in economic and
security assistance to combat terrorism overseas. Although not
formally stated, a strategy seems to be quietly emerging to broaden
foreign assistance as one means of taking away fertile breeding ground
for the nurturing of terrorist groups.
This is not to say that U.S. leadership buys unreservedly into the
concept that poverty breeds terrorism, and certainly not into the
notion that poverty somehow justifies terrorism. It is not to imply
that the U.S. policy community feels that one can buy off terrorists,
or would-be terrorists worldwide, by raising their standard of living.
None of the September 11th hijackers were impoverished. Usama bin
Ladin can hardly be characterized as poor, nor can many of his major
financial supporters. Nevertheless, there is a growing recognition
that poverty can breed ignorance and despair and that despair can be
exploited to support terrorist goals.
The events of September 11th and the renewed focus and utilization of
foreign assistance as a tool to promote U.S. national interests have
created an environment conducive to the expansion foreign assistance
on tracts parallel to economic and security assistance specifically
designed to combat terrorism. In March of this year, President Bush
announced creation of a Millennium Challenge Account to increase
United States foreign development assistance. The result envisioned by
the initiative is that by the year 2006, the level of United States
economic assistance would be five billion dollars higher than it would
otherwise. New levels of assistance provided by the fund would be tied
to performance by nations on a broad range of issues in the economic,
political and social arenas such as providing good government,
allowing individual freedom, and general investment in their people.
Enhancing Efforts to Protect the Homeland
On June 6th, President Bush called for creation of a new cabinet level
Department of Homeland Security. This, coupled with an ongoing series
of congressional hearings designed to highlight lessons learned from a
failure to anticipate and prevent the events of September 11th , says
it all. Americans today see themselves as vulnerable to terrorism at
home, on their soil. An American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) news
poll taken in early June 2002 indicated that 78% of those polled
agreed that there was a need to give up civil liberties to combat
terrorism.
Inherent in the newly emerging American concept of homeland defense is
the tactic of "defense in depth": first and foremost, stopping
terrorists and terrorist activity before they infiltrate into the
United States. This includes emphasis on securing the borders,
securing U.S. sea and air ports, and a recent emphasis on enhancing
seaport security of U.S. maritime trading partners.
Issues for European Decisionmakers
I will conclude my formal remarks today by highlighting some issues
and challenges modern terrorism and the emerging United States
framework for response pose to European and German policymakers. How
can we most effectively mesh our policies for counterterrorism
consistent with the different perspectives, roles, and destinies we
each see for our people and our nations?
Is there a Need to Rethink Perceptions of the Threat?
In the wake of the events of September 11th, Germany's offer of help
and rendering of support to United States and coalition efforts have
been exemplary and thoroughly appreciated by the American public. We
recognize that the response of your nation as a friend and ally has
moved well beyond deeply engrained post-war policies of not deploying
forces outside of Europe.
But, a core issue, which appears yet to be resolved, is the degree to
which popular European perceptions of the terrorist threat may warrant
examination. To what degree is it appropriate for European nations and
populations to be thinking of themselves as targets of terrorism? And
not just in foreign locations like Tunisia, where eleven German
tourists were murdered in April.
Before the events of September 11th, the public in the United States
primarily viewed terrorism as an overseas issue. True, Americans and
American interests were seen as targets, but not on American soil.
Today, for Americans, terrorism is seen as a threat to our security
inside the territory of the United States.
Moreover, before September 11th, many Americans perceived terrorism as
primarily a law enforcement issue, Today most perceive it as a
national security threat as well with potential for mass casualties
and widespread havoc and destruction.
Before September 11th, Americans largely perceived the threat of
terrorism as a foreign grown and based phenomenon. Although such a
perception is still the case, we are finding examples of support for
al Qaida actions within the United States and instances of Americans
who were trained in al Qaida camps. Only now are we beginning a
process which seriously grapples with the thought that, in the future,
the United States may see more instances of the "home grown" variety
of terrorism.
All in all, Americans have significantly changed how they view
terrorism and how they view the gravity of the threat. Although,
arguably, we were somewhat late in doing so. Clearly, Germany's
experience differs from ours -- especially your experience with home
grown terrorism. Moreover, Europe has had the experience of viewing
terrorism in a long term historical context. We can learn from each
other here.
For a nation such as Germany, to what degree is it appropriate that
terrorism be viewed as a law enforcement issue, and to what degree
should it also be seen as a tactical or strategic threat to state? If
the German perception today is primarily law enforcement, what kind of
a incident would it take to upgrade the perception of the threat? And
if indeed, the level of threat perception should be upgraded, how does
one accomplish returning to the normalcy of a threat level where
traditional civil liberties again take priority?
Is there a Need to Rethink Policies which Legitimize Indiscriminate
Acts of Violence?
Is there a need to rethink viewpoints which label violent acts of
groups such as radical Arab Palestinians as legitimate. What are the
long term consequences of a policy which legitimizes or countenances
the use of indiscriminate acts of violence against civilians to
redress what may be seen as legitimate political, social, ethnic,
economic, or religious grievances. Abortion to many is seen as
killing, destruction of the environment is seen by many as a crime
against humanity, poverty is seen by many as the direct result of
exploitation of the poor by the rich with globalization as the force
driving such exploitation. The list of historical, current, and
emerging grievances potentially seen as just and noble goes on, and
on.
In the past, when groups resorted to violence for their causes, the
scenarios often played themselves out, and varying forms of
equilibrium were reached. But can we, in the
interconnected-hi-tech-world of today, afford to let such violence run
its course. I am currently involved in conducting a study at the
National Academy of Engineering which prioritizes threats and
vulnerabilities to United States' infrastructure. The potential threat
scenarios and the ease with which they can be accomplished are
frightening. Today, and even more so in the future, the availability
of technology will give small groups the power to destroy beyond
imagination. Think of all of us as being in a rowboat together. Can we
afford to let some one in the boat explode a bomb, even if some, or
even many of us, have feelings of sympathy for the bomber's political,
ethnic, social, religious, or economic grievance or cause? The
policies that we adopt today will to a large degree define the
political landscape and future order of the world we all live in.
National or regional isolationism no longer works for terrorism. In
the past, a popular sentiment in many nations was: if violence is not
committed on my soil, it is not my problem. Today, when terrorism hits
one victim, it hits us all. When terrorism incubates in other
countries, this has immediate relevance for our own security.
Is There a Need to Rethink Strategies for Dealing with So-Called Rogue
Regimes or for De-legitimizing Radical Leaders?
An issue which frequently divides the United States and our European
allies is how to effectively deal with nations and leaders who support
or countenance terrorism. If we profit from business with them, and
they from business with us, do we gain influence which results in
desired policy changes, or do we simply appease them and support and
contribute to the financing of activities which ultimately threaten us
all? What strategies are effective in de-legitimizing radical leaders
and radical elements in countries like Iran, and in regions like the
West Bank and Gaza? What strategies best serve German interests? Is
the course of wisdom to de facto support radical leaders, engage them,
and hope that time or the process of engagement will result in desired
change? Has Iran become more moderate as a result of European policies
of engagement? Has Chairman Arafat? If we see moderation in a nation
like Libya-to what degree are sanctions and U.S. military force
responsible? To what degree is European engagement a determining
factor?
There is thoughtful debate in the United States and other countries
about how much action is warranted and justifiable against a sovereign
nation if that nation is permitting the foment of terrorism, is
harboring terrorists, or is developing weapons of mass destruction for
offensive purposes. Especially in cases where weapons of mass
destruction for offensive purposes is at issue, if reasonable minds
can agree on the offensive nature of the threat, is a responsible
course of action for national leaders to wait until the weapons are
used and then retaliate?
Differences in viewpoints and experiences on these and other issues
can divide us. But differences can also serve as a tool to unite us.
What can we learn from each other as a result of our knowledge and
experiences that may change our respective policy approaches? And if
it is clear that we must differ, how do we best cooperate and
formulate a working approach that works in tandem with, and not
against, our common goal of combating terrorism?
Concluding Observations
Preemptive action, and the threat thereof, is a potent policy tool.
President Bush in his West Point policy address has stressed that
Americans must be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend
our liberty and defend our lives. The challenge to United States and
European policymakers is to exercise such options wisely and to
recognize which situations can be improved by use of preemptive action
and which not. An added challenge to policymakers is to ensure that
preemptive action does not result in nations being unnecessarily
isolated from the coalition efforts we all seek to promote.
As United States leaders define our national security policy, it is
clear that strategies will be included that facilitate proactive and
concerted actions against real, deadly, and immediate threats to our
nation, and indeed, to the future of humanity. Never before in history
has the position of the United States and our European allies been
more powerful. But never before in history have the United States, our
European allies, and the world been so open and vulnerable. Never
before in history have a committed few, bent on destruction, had the
ability to harm so many. Never before has the need for cooperation
been so acute.
Thank you.
(end text)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web Site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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