Richard Clarke on What Can be Done in Four Years


The Washington Post‘s Walter Pincus joined us yesterday for a lunch that the American Strategy Program of the New America Foundation hosted with Richard Clarke and wrote this article which appears today.
Clarke made some excellent points — but among those not covered in the Pincus article was that “four years is a long time.”
Clarke said:

As we approach the 4th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we need to take stock of what we have done that has worked, and not, in our struggle against terrorism. . .Four years is a long time.
In four years, America fought and beat Nazi Germany while simultaneously fighting Imperial Japan — and at the same time built the nuclear bomb and had the Manhattan Project.
A lot can be done in four years. On the plus side in the last four years, we have liberated Afghanistan. But then the record gets mixed.

Here is an excerpt from the Pincus article which mentions our forthcoming conference:

Richard A. Clarke, the former head of counterterrorism in the White House under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, said yesterday that there were twice as many attacks outside Iraq in the three years after the 2001 attacks as in the three preceding years.
Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda group “are no longer the traditional leaders as they were in the 1990s,” Clarke said, adding that the terrorist leader had been building ideological groups from Afghanistan before Sept. 11, 2001, and that they had grown in the past few years into 14 to 16 separate networks.
Clarke said that bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, exercise “symbolic control and provide broad-brush themes” and that most of the networks operate independently, but “there are some signs of cooperation among some.”
Clarke, now a corporate security and counterterrorism consultant, delivered his assessment of al Qaeda and the jihadist threat at a news conference at the New America Foundation designed to focus attention on a bipartisan, two-day policy forum set for next week in Washington, titled “Terrorism, Security and America’s Purpose.”
Clarke left the Bush administration in 2003 and has since alleged the Bush White House reacted slowly to warnings of terrorist attacks in early 2001.
Yesterday, Clarke said that Iraq is drawing a relatively small number of foreign fighters who train there and return home, but “it is unclear to what extent they are drawn by the U.S. presence or how much the U.S. is a magnet.” Overall, he said that “there are more people participating [in jihadist networks] outside Iraq because of the U.S. presence” in that country.

— Steve Clemons