TERRORISM SALON: Eric Rosand on Counterterrorism Misfires


(Eric Rosand is a senior fellow at the Center on Global Counterterrorism Cooperation in New York and a nonresident fellow at New York University’s Center on International Cooperation).
Returning to the question of national priorities, I concur with what Matt writesthat the threats are real and potentially catastrophic should AQ or its affiliates get a hold of weapons of mass destruction. The issue for me is less the high priority being placed on countering the threat than the manner in which we are countering it:

1) too much emphasis on and too prominent a role for the military;
2) the tendency to try to impose counterterrorism as a priority in countries (particularly in Africa) where the governments and people are faced with much more pressing threats from HIV/AIDS, poverty, corruption, organized and other forms of crime, and lack of development;
3) the tendency to want to put a “counterterrorism” label on policy initiatives (e.g., related to education, development, the training of law enforcement officials) in countries where doing so may lead to resistance on the ground and thus be counterproductive to actually countering terrorism;
4) the continuing pattern of exaggerating the extent of the al Qaida connections with what may be local insurgencies, for example in Indonesia and the Philippines, and where labeling such insurgencies as al Qaeda-related may magnify the profile of smaller unrelated groups or stifle attempts to address the local grievances that are motivating the insurgencies (See: Amitav Acharya and Arabinda Acharya, “The Myth of the Second Front: Localizing the “War on Terror” in Southeast Asia“); and
5) the failure to build the alliances and strengthen international cooperation with traditional and non-traditional partners around the world.

Thus, what is needed is not a de-emphasis in terrorism relative to other national priorities but a more nuanced and less blunt notion of what we mean by “counter” terrorism, taking into account the five concerns/limitations I have outlined. I am sure I have left out many others that need to be taken into account as well and look forward to others adding to this list!
— Eric Rosand
This week long terrorism salon will continue to be hosted by The Washington Note and UN Dispatch.


2 comments on “TERRORISM SALON: Eric Rosand on Counterterrorism Misfires

  1. JohnH says:

    Finally, someone said it: what we need is “a more nuanced and less blunt notion of what we mean by “counter” terrorism,” including “too much emphasis on and too prominent a role for the military.” Bravo!
    Now can we move on to an identification and discussion of the American policies that create grievances that may lead to a terrorist backlash? It seems to me that revising a few ham-fisted policies might be a very cost-effective way “drain the swamp” and relieve the burden on counter-terrorism and avoid the collateral damage it causes.


  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Its interesting that this whole week of hot air and sales pitches has completely avoided the issue of actual homeland security, and the absence of any substantive domestic defensive measures. Wide open borders. An airline fleet that is still vulnerable with uninspected cargo holds. Airport security that is repeatedly shown to be ineffective at security, but extremely effective at inconveniencing. Uninspected port containers. Dismally inadequate protection to dangerous infrastructures such as Atomic energy plants and chemical facilities. The list goes on and on.
    How are we supposed to have any faith in these fearmongering ruminations that you “think tankers” keep pushing in our faces, when the dearth of substantive homeland defensive measures belies the credibility of this massive con-job, the so called “GWOT”?
    Look, as long as some wackjob, or a legion of wackjobs, can merely stroll, drive, slither or skip across our southern border carrying who knows what chemical or biological agent, than this “GWOT” is nuthin’ but a fuckin’ joke. Unless, of course, you all are convinced that the American public is so blithering ignorant that they are collectively buying this “we are fighting them there so we don’t have to fight them here” horseshit.
    The defenders of this piece of shit Bush and his fascist co-conspirator, Cheney, are fond of pointing out that there has been no attacks since 9/11. Well, considering the lack of substantive homeland defensive measures, that would tend to point to an extremely exagerated threat, wouldn’t it? I mean, are these jackasses telling us we haven’t been attacked because we are just too easy of a target, and if nothing else, Al Qaeda likes a challenge?
    We’ll be attacked again, all right. And the attack will work in the favor of of the neo-con agenda, and will just “coincidentally” trigger responses that buttress Israel’s security situation, expand our global military presence, and further erode our rights, privacies, and freedoms at home. Then, you think tankers can spend another few years explaining to us lowly unthinking peons exactly why we should discard logic and common sense when attempting to examine our government’s response.


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