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Friday, July 23, 2004

IHT - U.S. urged to revise its Muslim strategy

U.S. urged to revise its Muslim strategy
David E. Sanger/NYT Friday, July 23, 2004
Report backs a 'preventive' approach

WASHINGTON The final report of the Sept. 11 commission includes a call for a broad rethinking of American foreign policy toward the Arab and Muslim world, declaring that the United States needs "a preventive strategy that is as much, or more, political as it is military," and that reshapes Washington's approach to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
.
Crucial to the strategy, the commission said, is ensuring that terror groups cannot find sanctuary in what the report called "the least governed, most lawless places in the world." It listed places from western Pakistan to Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia, Yemen, West Africa and Southeast Asia, particularly the hard-to-police islands of the Philippines and Indonesia.
.
Suggesting that the United States has yet to come up with a comprehensive strategy that uses "all elements of national power" to ensure that those areas do not become breeding grounds for terrorists, the commission recommends that "the U.S. government must identify and prioritize actual or potential terrorist sanctuaries," and "have a realistic strategy to keep possible terrorists insecure and on the run." White House officials appeared somewhat surprised by the scope of the commission's foreign policy recommendations, which went far beyond the expected recommendations to revamp the intelligence agencies and security measures. They are contained in a chapter of the report that calls for "a global strategy" to get at the roots of terrorism that, while never directly challenging President George W. Bush's 2002 "National Security Strategy," makes it clear that the commission concludes that the Bush administration's efforts so far are inadequate.
.
It is particularly blistering about American public diplomacy, declaring that "the U.S. government must define what its message is, what it stands for." It goes on to argue that "we should offer an example of moral leadership in the world," which Bush often declares in his campaign speeches is already a central tenet of American policy.
.
Bush also maintains that Iraq had been a "central front" in the war on terror, a point that the report treats with stony silence. Instead, it warns of what could happen if the American experiment in Iraq goes bad, declaring, "If, for example, Iraq becomes a failed state, it will go to the top of the list of places that are breeding grounds for attacks against Americans at home."
.
In contrast, the commission was admiring of Bush's accomplishments in Afghanistan, saying he and Congress "deserve praise for their efforts in Afghanistan so far," but urging "long-term commitments" to helping a country that has been abandoned before, in the early 1990s.
.
Meeting with reporters in her office at the White House on Thursday afternoon, Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, characterized the commission's call as an extension of the administration's current policy.
.
"The hearts and minds issues are back," she said, using a term that gained currency in the Vietnam era, "maybe in an even more real way than they were in the cold war."
.
But when pressed, she took issue with the commission's conclusion that America's message to the world is muddled. She argued that "no president in 60 years" has been clearer than Bush in calling for democratization in the Arab world, or in offering a clear alternative to Al Qaeda's ideology.
.
Still, White House and State Department officials acknowledged in other conversations Thursday that the commission's recommendations appeared to support the accusation, expressed by Senator John Kerry, the presidential candidate, and others that Bush has burned more bridges abroad than he has built.
.
And in that regard, the report's global strategy section goes to the heart of the election-year argument about how the United States should fight terrorism.
.
"There's a lot more Colin Powell in this report," a senior State Department official said, "than there is Dick Cheney or Don Rumsfeld." As recently as Tuesday, Bush has been telling crowds of supporters at campaign rallies that during his tenure, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have been turned into allies in the war against terror.
.
The commission report draws a far more shaded picture, calling the Saudis "a problematic ally in combating Islamic terrorism," though acknowledging that they are "locked in mortal combat with Al Qaeda."
.
"The problems in the U.S.-Saudi relationship must be confronted, openly," the report concludes, and a relationship must be "about more than oil." But it said it was an open question whether Saudi Arabia and Pakistan could develop "a shared commitment to political and economic reform."
.
The commission did not find any Saudi government involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks or in financing Al Qaeda.
.
It was more critical of Pakistan, saying that in the two years after Sept. 11, "the Pakistani government tried to walk the fence, helping against Al Qaeda while seeking to avoid a larger confrontation with Taliban remnants and other Islamic extremists." That is a far cry from Bush's public insistence that Pakistan has been a stalwart ally. But the commission report concluded that attempts late last year to assassinate General Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani president, had hardened his approach and made him realize that he was literally in a life-or-death struggle.
.
Its conclusion was stark: "If Musharraf stands for enlightened moderation in a fight for his life and for the life of his country, the United States should be willing to make hard choices too, and make the difficult long-term commitment to the future of Pakistan."
.
The New York Times



See more of the world that matters - click here for home delivery of the International Herald Tribune.
< < Back to Start of Article Report backs a 'preventive' approach

WASHINGTON The final report of the Sept. 11 commission includes a call for a broad rethinking of American foreign policy toward the Arab and Muslim world, declaring that the United States needs "a preventive strategy that is as much, or more, political as it is military," and that reshapes Washington's approach to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
.
Crucial to the strategy, the commission said, is ensuring that terror groups cannot find sanctuary in what the report called "the least governed, most lawless places in the world." It listed places from western Pakistan to Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia, Yemen, West Africa and Southeast Asia, particularly the hard-to-police islands of the Philippines and Indonesia.
.
Suggesting that the United States has yet to come up with a comprehensive strategy that uses "all elements of national power" to ensure that those areas do not become breeding grounds for terrorists, the commission recommends that "the U.S. government must identify and prioritize actual or potential terrorist sanctuaries," and "have a realistic strategy to keep possible terrorists insecure and on the run." White House officials appeared somewhat surprised by the scope of the commission's foreign policy recommendations, which went far beyond the expected recommendations to revamp the intelligence agencies and security measures. They are contained in a chapter of the report that calls for "a global strategy" to get at the roots of terrorism that, while never directly challenging President George W. Bush's 2002 "National Security Strategy," makes it clear that the commission concludes that the Bush administration's efforts so far are inadequate.
.
It is particularly blistering about American public diplomacy, declaring that "the U.S. government must define what its message is, what it stands for." It goes on to argue that "we should offer an example of moral leadership in the world," which Bush often declares in his campaign speeches is already a central tenet of American policy.
.
Bush also maintains that Iraq had been a "central front" in the war on terror, a point that the report treats with stony silence. Instead, it warns of what could happen if the American experiment in Iraq goes bad, declaring, "If, for example, Iraq becomes a failed state, it will go to the top of the list of places that are breeding grounds for attacks against Americans at home."
.
In contrast, the commission was admiring of Bush's accomplishments in Afghanistan, saying he and Congress "deserve praise for their efforts in Afghanistan so far," but urging "long-term commitments" to helping a country that has been abandoned before, in the early 1990s.
.
Meeting with reporters in her office at the White House on Thursday afternoon, Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, characterized the commission's call as an extension of the administration's current policy.
.
"The hearts and minds issues are back," she said, using a term that gained currency in the Vietnam era, "maybe in an even more real way than they were in the cold war."
.
But when pressed, she took issue with the commission's conclusion that America's message to the world is muddled. She argued that "no president in 60 years" has been clearer than Bush in calling for democratization in the Arab world, or in offering a clear alternative to Al Qaeda's ideology.
.
Still, White House and State Department officials acknowledged in other conversations Thursday that the commission's recommendations appeared to support the accusation, expressed by Senator John Kerry, the presidential candidate, and others that Bush has burned more bridges abroad than he has built.
.
And in that regard, the report's global strategy section goes to the heart of the election-year argument about how the United States should fight terrorism.
.
"There's a lot more Colin Powell in this report," a senior State Department official said, "than there is Dick Cheney or Don Rumsfeld." As recently as Tuesday, Bush has been telling crowds of supporters at campaign rallies that during his tenure, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have been turned into allies in the war against terror.
.
The commission report draws a far more shaded picture, calling the Saudis "a problematic ally in combating Islamic terrorism," though acknowledging that they are "locked in mortal combat with Al Qaeda."
.
"The problems in the U.S.-Saudi relationship must be confronted, openly," the report concludes, and a relationship must be "about more than oil." But it said it was an open question whether Saudi Arabia and Pakistan could develop "a shared commitment to political and economic reform."
.
The commission did not find any Saudi government involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks or in financing Al Qaeda.
.
It was more critical of Pakistan, saying that in the two years after Sept. 11, "the Pakistani government tried to walk the fence, helping against Al Qaeda while seeking to avoid a larger confrontation with Taliban remnants and other Islamic extremists." That is a far cry from Bush's public insistence that Pakistan has been a stalwart ally. But the commission report concluded that attempts late last year to assassinate General Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani president, had hardened his approach and made him realize that he was literally in a life-or-death struggle.
.
Its conclusion was stark: "If Musharraf stands for enlightened moderation in a fight for his life and for the life of his country, the United States should be willing to make hard choices too, and make the difficult long-term commitment to the future of Pakistan."
.
The New York Times Report backs a 'preventive' approach

WASHINGTON The final report of the Sept. 11 commission includes a call for a broad rethinking of American foreign policy toward the Arab and Muslim world, declaring that the United States needs "a preventive strategy that is as much, or more, political as it is military," and that reshapes Washington's approach to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
.
Crucial to the strategy, the commission said, is ensuring that terror groups cannot find sanctuary in what the report called "the least governed, most lawless places in the

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