May 12, 2004

Playing Bin Laden's Game: The West is losing the War on Terror on a Global Scale

The "war on terrorism" is NOT the strength of the
incredible shrinking _resident's administration, it is
the SHAME of the incredible shrinking _resident's
administraton. Are you safer today than you were four
years ago? No. The incredible shrinking _resident has
not destroyed Al Qaeda, he has succeeded in making it
almost mainstream on the Arab Street. Incredible. But
when will you hear it on the SeeBS Fork the Nation,
NotBeSeen Meat The Press or AnythingButSee Week in
Revision instead of reading it in the Guardian? It is
CONTINUITY and CONTEXT that is missing from the "US
Mainstream News Media." Al Qaeda is stronger today
than it was two years ago. Why? Richard Clark
(R-Reality) has already answered the question (under
oath): the incredible shrinking _resident's foolish
military adventure in Iraq...

Michael Meacham, Guardian: Nor has al-Qaida been
broken. US intelligence estimates that it still
operates terror cells in as many as 65 countries, with
a 50,000-strong pool of cadres from two generations of
Afghan war veterans. It is resilient for two main
reasons: it is the symbol of resistance in the Islamic
world against western domination, and it has built
strategic depth by keeping operational links with some
of the largest and deadliest Middle Eastern and Asian
terror groups. Soon after 9/11, al-Qaida had lost 16
of its 25 key leaders, but it adapted and rapidly
transformed itself into a more mobile, flexible and
elusive force than before. Despite the "war on
terror", over the past two years, in at least 18
attacks across the world, al-Qaida seems to have been
more effective than in the two years before 9/11.

Repudiate the 9/11 Cover-Up and the Iraq War Lies,
Show Up for Democracy in 2004: Defeat Bush (again!)


http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0511-13.htm


Published on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 by the Guardian/UK

Playing Bin Laden's Game: The West is losing the War on Terror on a Global Scale

by Michael Meacher

Despite the revelations of torture, the US-British
policy is unchanged: see this historic struggle
through to its conclusion for the sake of democracy
and civilization; apply overwhelming force against
terrorists and extremists; and show unremitting
resolve to root out resistance wherever it is found.
Whether it is Americans in Iraq, Israelis in Palestine
or the west against al-Qaida, the approach is the
same: a policy proclaimed in the name of freedom,
tolerance and a decent world order that, ironically,
could hardly be better calculated to produce the
opposite.

The policy is lethally flawed by its unwillingness to
contemplate what lies behind the hatred: why scores of
young people are prepared to blow themselves up, why
19 highly educated young men were ready to destroy
themselves and thousands of others in the 9/11
hijackings, and why resistance is growing despite the
likelihood of insurgents being killed. To deal with
this reality, we first have to understand it.

The appeal of Osama bin Laden lies in his capacity to
radicalize and mobilize the world's Muslims. His
denunciation of the US military occupation of the holy
land of Saudi Arabia, his condemnation of repressive,
corrupt Arab states - often seen as western inspired -
his invective against US domination of the Middle East
and protection of Israel, and his capacity to fight
back have all resonated in the Arab street.

There are essentially three strategic responses to
this. One, which President Bush has come dangerously
close to voicing, is that this is a clash between
western and Muslim values. In fact, this would play
into Bin Laden's hands. He wants further attacks by
the US and its allies to draw in more Muslims and
perhaps trigger the collapse of secularist traditions
and western tendencies in the Islamic world. It would
also have a dangerous impact in western countries with
large Muslim populations.

A second approach, advocated by leading neocons,
focuses on military and economic power. The Afghan and
Iraqi wars were both geopolitical - focused on the
establishment of bases in central Asia and the Middle
East - and oil-centered (securing the two largest
remaining sources of hydrocarbons in the world). But
this again is a losing strategy. Afghanistan is
gradually slipping from US hands, with resistance
clearly mounting as the Taliban reorganize and Russian
influence steadily grows. Two years after the war is
supposed to have ended, violence still grips much of
the country and there is no sight of an Afghan army
capable of offering security.

The Iraq imbroglio is even worse. The death of more
than 10,000 civilians, with 20,000 injured and even
higher Iraqi military casualties, is exacerbated, one
year on, by the failure to deliver key public
services, the rushed disbanding of the Iraqi army,
rampant unemployment and a gratuitously heavy-handed
US military.

Nor has al-Qaida been broken. US intelligence
estimates that it still operates terror cells in as
many as 65 countries, with a 50,000-strong pool of
cadres from two generations of Afghan war veterans. It
is resilient for two main reasons: it is the symbol of
resistance in the Islamic world against western
domination, and it has built strategic depth by
keeping operational links with some of the largest and
deadliest Middle Eastern and Asian terror groups. Soon
after 9/11, al-Qaida had lost 16 of its 25 key
leaders, but it adapted and rapidly transformed itself
into a more mobile, flexible and elusive force than
before. Despite the "war on terror", over the past two
years, in at least 18 attacks across the world,
al-Qaida seems to have been more effective than in the
two years before 9/11.

Military control, despite significant successes, shows
little sign of being able to eradicate al-Qaida -
indeed, the more it is cut back, the more it springs
up elsewhere. But there is a third, alternative
approach. Above all, the political dimension must now
be given much greater prominence if the real and deep
grievances that drive al-Qaida are to be addressed.
That will undoubtedly require some contentious policy
changes to be made. In Iraq it means a clear UN
mandate to cover coalition forces and an early date
for their withdrawal. It means the US making clear
that it will not maintain a long-term de facto
occupation by retaining military bases, with effective
control over oil, security and the economy.

After America's decision to withdraw most of its
troops from Saudi Arabia, must it still permanently
station ground forces on the Arabian peninsula, or is
there some alternative for power projection and force
structure?

The al-Qaida threat will never be resolved until the
US adopts a more balanced Middle East policy and is
prepared to put the necessary pressure on Israel to
secure a viable Palestinian state. And rather than
pursue a self-defeating policy of enforced regime
change against suspect countries, it would be much
better to identify countries where conditions are
likely to encourage the proliferation of terrorism,
and to try to pre-empt this by well-structured
international economic aid programs.

These are not utopian objectives, but the US will not
budge without much more pressure from friendly
governments. Britain needs to make the case strongly
that continued British support cannot be
unconditional. Given Bush's acute concern for Tony
Blair's political survival - as revealed in Bob
Woodward's latest book - it is a message that should
be well understood in Washington.

If the road from Bali, Kikambala (in Kenya),
Casablanca, Riyadh, Jakarta, Istanbul and Madrid is
not to pass through London or Boston, those policies
would provide a much better defense than continuing to
rely exclusively on military control or advance
intelligence, vital though both are.

Michael Meacher was UK environment minister,
1997-2003

Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

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Posted by richard at May 12, 2004 12:34 PM