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November 01, 2004

Comments

Justin

Hi Gary!

Taking the War on Terror as the #1 priority, I would narrow it down to the following.

There's a lot of evidence that Bush invaded Iraq based on an ideological platform, namely that of the neo-cons. I'm convinced of this at least, based on what I've read. There's also a lot of evidence that the neo-cons have sidetracked existing counter-terrorism schemes by the CIA, FBI, et al in favour of their own homegrown ideas, even where the existing schemes were effective.

I am also convinced that Bin Laden escaped due to their keenness to invade Iraq, even if it meant leaving Afghanistan unpoliced by competent troops. Killing or arresting OBL would have been a massive coup in the WoT, and as it stands, his presence as a figurehead at large strengthens his side.

Next, it strongly appears that Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and White House policy leaned towards the use of torture, internment, and widespread application of very harsh tactics across civilian populations, even where it seemed likely there would be a high rate of false positives. The results are the Abu Ghraib scandal, and people who know, suggest that that's only the start of it. In my experience as a citizen of Ireland who knows the history of his country ;), I can tell you that harsh tactics breeds resentment and is the most effective way for terrorist organisations to recruit. I saw this during the Hunger Strikes with my own eyes, and the older generation witnessed it post Bloody Sunday. But that's how the Bush team seem to intend to carry out the WoT. I am certain it will be a disaster.

Next, on the 'nuisance' point -- I actually agree with Kerry. in my opinion, there will always be lone crazies, the Unabombers etc., who want to explode bombs in any given capital. You can never defeat terrorism 100%. But what you CAN do is reduce a thousands-strong terrorist network to a tiny pool of 10 lone crazies, or similar, who cannot act -- and that's what I picked up from Kerry's comment. And you do that by removing their support network. You say that a sole terrorist could detonate a dirty bomb. This is true, but a sole terrorist has a much, much lower probability of effectively getting to that stage; they have to (a) find the contacts who can sell them the equipment they need, (b) ensure those contacts aren't CIA guys running a sting, (c) assemble a device, (d) get it into the country... etc. All these things take money, fake documentation, experts in whatever tech is being used, etc. Terrorism requires a support base for all this.

Right now, if the IRA history is anything to go by, al-Qaeda members are probably viewed as heroes by a subset of their own friends and family. They probably get donations of money to finance their terrorism. That has to be dealt with. They need to be viewed as crazies, extremists, even by their own friends and family; ostracised. Removing their support base emasculates their efforts, until eventually they're lone crazies, and their community betrays them and turns them in for rewards, or exiles them as a danger to their community.

Again, this is something I've seen in Ireland, where support for the Provisional IRA dwindled after Thatcher's regime lost power, and a more enlightened approach to Northern Ireland (as a whole) appeared during the 90's; until by now the remaining active terrorists are a tiny group of less than a hundred people, beset by surveillance, internal betrayals, schisms, and without equipment and incapable of attack.

Finally, an international police force in Iraq. This would mean that there are more forces in Iraq, and I'm sure would be more acceptable to the Iraqi people than the current occupation primarily by US forces. I'm confident Kerry will bring in the U.N. This will involve compromises by the US, e.g. in opening up the reconstruction contracts or similar, but it's insane to think otherwise; the US can't reasonably say "we want your help, but we won't give you anything in return".

phew! that was long. I'm not here for a discussion, just listing out my own thoughts on the primary points that I believe things could improve under Kerry, as requested. These are what I believe to be true, and I hope it has some effect ;)

--j.

Justin

'But my spam filter ate TypePad's notification email until it was too late...'

ha, damn those spam filters! ;)

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