Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 3, 2010

“Counter-terrorism concerns have pervaded every aspect of American foreign policy”

Filed under: Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on December 3, 2010

Commenting on the Wikileaks leaks in The Guardian, the historian Timothy Garton Ash writes:

More broadly, what you see in this diplomatic traffic is how security and counter-terrorism concerns have pervaded every aspect of American foreign policy. But you also see how serious the threats are, and how little the west is in control of them. There is devastating stuff here about the Iranian nuclear programme and the extent not merely of Israeli but Arab fears of it (“cut off the head of the snake”, a Saudi ambassador reports his king urging the Americans); the vulnerability of Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile to rogue Islamists; anarchy and corruption on a massive scale in Afghanistan; al-Qaida in Yemen; and tales of the power of the Russian mafia gangs, that make John le Carré’s latest novel look almost understated.

If the leaks are a representative sample of US diplomatic activity and if the Oxford (and Stanford) scholar’s judgment is accurate, then the focus on counter-terrorism is both understandable and unfortunate.

Unfortunate because given the US role and influence in the world we might be better at counter-terrorism if we were focused on a more positive strategy of global engagement.

The world is in the midst of a fundamental shift.  This can be observed in economics, politics, demographics, religion, and more.  Terrorism is one symptom of this profound transition.  There are other crucial issues, some which have an indirect but potentially powerful influence on terrorism.  How is US diplomacy being applied to shape a new synthesis?

Our choice is almost always between giving more attention to risks or more attention to opportunities.  A strong defense may win more football games.  It is seldom the best strategy in the rest of life.

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3 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 3, 2010 @ 8:33 am

So who or whom is “thinking the unthinkable” these days on “terrorism”?

Here is a question? Does modern terrorism represent the final challenge to the nation-state system that has largely existed since the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 ended the wars of religion (at least superficially) in Western civilization except of course for the wars between Christendom/Judiasm and ISLAM (the other Western Religion-although like Christendon and Judiasm worldwide now)? Or does it just represent the final breakdown of that system of nation-states controlling violence and leading to a world of anarchy more reflecting the view of HOBBS on mankind?

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 6, 2010 @ 4:40 pm

Leslie Gelb says leaks show foreign relations competently handled by STATE and US Embassy staff. Respectfully disasgree.

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 8, 2010 @ 8:24 am

The Nation mag has new article discussing pro’s and con’s of Wikileaks present dispersal of documents.

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