How should the United States prosecute its war against global terrorism over the next several years?
Should the United States become more aggressive in taking preemptive action in accordance with the Bush Doctrine? Or should the United States be more diplomatic in its engagement with foreign nations and take a soft power approach?
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Terrorism is difficult to fight because most of their activities are hidden. Terrorism is effective because of two reasons, one is the difficulty of knowledge of when , where and how the terrorist will strike. Second the cost and inconvenience caused by the actions to prevent terrorism is also in a way triumph of terrorism. Terrorism, as the name itself implies, is not aimed at causing actual harm, as at creating a fear that harm may be caused. Under these condition a good program to to fight terrorism need to be a mix of following action.
- Prevention of possibility of terrorist attacks through measures such as security checks.
- System of intelligence to detect and prevent terrorist activities of planning and preparing for terrorist activities.
- Firm and quick action in punishing people found guilty of carrying out or supporting terrorist activities.
- Dealing firmly with governments of other countries in obtaining their support in fighting terrorism. In particular this means being very firm in opposing any lenient treatment by such countries toward terrorists and terrorist activities.
I am really not in a position to know exactly what or how much USA government is doing in each of these four areas. But fro the limited view I have, it appears that there is too much emphasis on the first of the above four activities, and the last of the four activities is not being carried out very effectively.
This is a vitally important question and one that will evoke much in way of divergent response. I think that whatever path the nation takes to prosecute the war on terrorism, it cannot lose sight of the most valuable commodity in such an equation. On the ground, reliable intelligence will be critical in being able to find those who wish to do harm to America. In my mind, there has to be an effective ground campaign which is devoted to gathering intelligence, forming alliances with the moderate forces in communities, and seeking to win over these social domains in our attempt to find the terrorists. The idea of being able to fully grasp the enemy's capacity through "shock and awe" might not be as successful as originally thought. Instead, using contacts we know are reliable, establishing incentives for moderate forces to be able to articulate that our war is not a war against a group of people or a religious belief system, and that liberalized democracy can bring more people into its folds with greater benefits to all might constitute a successful approach to prosecute and find those who wish to do us harm.
The problem with taking a softer approach is that it gives others the false impression that the Unites States is weak. The problem with being too aggressive is that we will give the impression that we are bullies. So the best answer lies probably somewhere in the middle. The United States needs to protect itself against terrorism. We certainly do not want another 9/11 to happen or something worse. There is a lot of nuclear intelligence out there that could be disastrous if in the wrong hands. This country needs to be firm and consistent. The United States has a history of not backing down and I believe this is how we should remain. By the same token, we need to be fair and respectful at the same time.
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