Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

New Report: “War on Terror” Failing; Fueling Terrorism

As reported today by Reuters, a new report by the Oxford Research Group studying terrorist incidents and the activity of known international terror networks concludes that, 6 years after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States, the “war on terror” is failing and is, instead, fueling an increase in support for extremist groups, especially those with a radical Islamist ideology.  The report concludes that “a fundamental re-think is required” if global terrorist networks like al-Qaeda are to be rendered ineffective.  I have noted before that the practices  of Just Peacemaking provide such an alternative way to oppose terrorism.

The report’s author, Paul Rogers, who teaches Peace and Global Studies at Bradford University in the U.K., calls the decision to invade Iraq, “a disastrous mistake” that has given a recruiting and training ground to al Qaeda. He also warns about the drift toward war with Iran which would compound this disaster.  Al-Qaeda can, according to Bradford, be contained and rendered ineffective, but this will take policy changes on every level, including withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq, coupled with intensive diplomatic engagement in the region, including Syria and Iran. (Note: In the U.S., presidential candidates Bill Richardson and Dennis Kucinich, both longshots, have proposed this, although Kucinich wants an international force of UN peacekeepers to replace U.S. and coalition troops until Iraq can provide its own security. By contrast, the frontrunners, Clinton, Obama, and Edwards, have only proposed pulling out “combat troops” or “changing the mission” of a reduced number of troops to just fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq–which didn’t exist before the invasion.  The “frontrunners” need to be confronted with this report and urged toward bolder moves.)

The Oxford Research Group report, called Alternatives to the War on Terror, also had proposals for Afghanistan: immediate scaling down of military activities, injection of far more civil aid (especially outside Kabul in rural areas), and negotiations with militia groups aimed at bringing them into the political process.  The U.S. likes to claim that it “never negotiates with terrorists,” but the claim is a blatant falsehood.  The U.S. has supported terrorists it believed on “our side,” and, in its better moments, has helped guerilla groups turn from armed conflict to becoming political parties.  The latter is what is being urged here.

Even if such changes are adopted quickly, the ORG report claims that “it will take at least 10 years to make up for the mistakes made since 9/11.” “Failure to make the necessary changes could result in the war on terror lasting decades.” Of course, many of the Neo-Cons in an out of the Bush administration have WANTED a decades long “war on terror,” and used this endless war scenario to justify the concentration of near-absolute power in the presidency! They have cynically used people’s desires for security to dismantle the system of checks and balances that make us a democratic republic and have undermined the rule of law.  Whether such moves will be undone in a new administration, of either party, remains to be seen. “Emergency” Powers tend to be much harder to give up, if history is any guide.

Finally, Professor Rogers warns against war with Iran.  Such a move would make matters far worse. Whatever our difficulties in dealing with Iran, he warns, a military attack by Israel or Western Nations would play into the hands of extremists (like pouring kerosene on an open flame) and add greatly to violence throughout the entire region.

This report needs to be sent immediately to the U.S. Congress, the British Parliament, and the French government at a mininum (naming only those with the most belligerant recent words about Iran).  But the final task of heeding such warnings will lie in the hands of the citizens of world.  That’s us, folks.

I don’t know the full recommendations of this report, but I would think there are several other steps to take to correct the mistakes made since 9/11:

  • Close the Prison at Guantanemo Bay, which has become almost as infamous a symbol as the prison at Abu Ghraib.
  • Close all secret prisons run by the CIA.
  • Ban all cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of prisoners, whether prisoners of war or “enemy combatants.”
  • Restore Habeas Corpus and make all trials of terrorism suspects conform to international law.
  • Hold a regional Middle East Peace Summit in which all issues: the 2-state solution in Israel/Palestine, tearing down the wall, return of the Golan Heights, stability of Lebanon, etc. are on the table.
  • Fund education throughout the Muslim world so that poor parents aren’t forced to turn to extremist madrassahs.
  • Send Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Gonzalez, etc. to the International Criminal Court at the Hague to stand trial for war crimes.

October 8, 2007 - Posted by | just peacemaking, terrorism prevention


  1. While the things you list might be good to do, I don’t think they will get the toothpaste back into the tube. And Bush seems determined to do as much stompong on the tube as he possibly can before he leaves office.

    Comment by Steve | October 8, 2007

  2. One does what’s possible, Steve.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | October 8, 2007

  3. True, one does what’s possible. The things you suggested would be damage limitation. The challenge is to repair the damage. I don’t think anyone can restore the status quo ante, and I don’t think there are any politicians around who have any answers to that. I can’t think of anything that could be done, but perhaps that is what Christian peacemakers should be discussing.

    Comment by Steve | October 9, 2007

  4. […] control or damage repair Jump to Comments In a post on “War on terror” failing: fueling terrorism, Michael Westmoreland-White makes several […]

    Pingback by Damage control or damage repair « Khanya | October 9, 2007

  5. As I mentioned on your blog, Steve, repairing the damage will take a long time. If we can quickly stop the bleeding, we will have a better chance at seeking longterm recovery.
    No, we won’t return to the status quo ante which may be a good thing. Maybe we can travel forward together to a new condition better than either the previous or current one.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | October 9, 2007

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