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Are the US Winning or Losing the Global War on Terror?
Publication date: 2003-10-24

The US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sent a memo on the War on Terror to Gen. Dick Myers, Paul Wolfowitz, Gen. Pete Pace, and Doug Feith on October 16, 2003 asking the cardinal question "Are we winning or losing the Global War on Terror?" and seeking answer to what needs to be done for the US to win that war.

Below we consider the questions posed by Donald Rumsfeld to his colleagues and the answers which could help the US government to make the world a safer place:

No.Donald Rumsfeld QuestionAnswerComments
1Are we [the US] winning or losing the Global War on Terror?To answer that question one has to know with sufficient precision what the objectives of that war are. Without such information this question is not answerable.From the speeches, pronouncements and actions of the US government relating to the War on Terror, it appears that the US government sees "terrorism" as one or more global terrorist organisations. And the purpose of the War on Terror is to kill or capture all the members of such organisations. Once all the terrorists around the world are killed or in jail, then the War on Terror will be won. This is an erroneous view of terrorism, with which we dealt still at the start of the War on Terror. So, if the aim of the War on Terror is to eliminate terrorism, then as long as the War on Terror is seen as a war against groups of terrorists, it cannot be won.
2Is DoD changing fast enough to deal with the new 21st century security environment?Most of the insecurity of the present time is the result of the policies of the US government. The real question is not that of speed of change, but of direction of change. Is DoD changing in the right direction? And the answer is "No, it is not"DoD is the product of the 20th century, most of which was dominated by wars between blocks of nation states - World War I, World War II, and the Cold War.

These rival blocks were constantly trying to increase their military might ("The Arms Race") so as to achieve world dominance. With the disappearance of the inter-European rivalries and the demise of the Soviet Block, the only contender for world dominance is the US itself. And what the US government is facing is not another block competing for world dominance, but hostile reactions from people who resent being dominated by the US (or anybody else).

As long as the US are trying to dominate the world as the "most powerful" nation state, it will be resisted. The only way the US can achieve a secure world is by using its might to establish workable institutions of Global Government. Such government cannot be on behalf of any nation, but must be above all nations. And all nations, including the US must submit to such government as equal under the law.

Such Global Government cannot be political. It mush be totally objective and impartial. Up to now the US government, as well as all other governments, were political. And politics is the source of all conflicts. To succeed in establishing a secure world the US government must reject all political philosophies and learn to be honest and impartial.

The whole idea of national military might has become obsolete. What is needed today is Global Law and Global Police. But such Global institutions can be successful only if they are truly global, rather than national.

So, the DoD has outlived its purpose, it needs to become a national branch of the Global Police Force under an impartial supra-national government. And all nation states (including the US) will be just areas governed by local governments with clearly defined and limited powers.
3Can a big institution change fast enough?Yes, if those in charge of it know what they are doing.
4Is the USG changing fast enough?It is not changing in the right direction. So increasing the speed will do more harm than good. It is better to stop and make the effort of establishing the right direction - then to start moving in that direction at the right speed.
5DoD has been organized, trained and equipped to fight big armies, navies and air forces. It is not possible to change DoD fast enough to successfully fight the global war on terror; an alternative might be to try to fashion a new institution, either within DoD or elsewhere - one that seamlessly focuses the capabilities of several departments and agencies on this key problem.This will not help. The more the US government will "fight terrorism" the more terrorism it will generate. The issue is not that of organization, but of understanding of the problem and of finding the right solutions.
6We are having mixed results with Al Qaida, although we have put considerable pressure on them - nonetheless, a great many remain at large.This confirms that US government see the War on Terror as "killing or capturing all the terrorists". But this is a hopeless task. While some are killed, others take their place. US government have destroyed some of the Al-Qaida bases and killed and captured some of its members, but the number of people involved in anti-American operations has increased.Before the US government had began their War on Terror, Al-Qaida was a relatively small group of people, but the War on Terror has turned it from a closed conspiratorial organisation into a "grass-roots" world-wide movement, which is growing with each new "victory" of the US government - as it happened with the "victories" in Afghanistan and Iraq.
7USG has made reasonable progress in capturing or killing the top 55 Iraqis.USG can say that they won a military victory in Iraq, but this "victory" has only increased anti-US "terrorism". So this victory was a loss in the War on Terror.Although the war on Iraq was part of the War on Terror as chartered by Benjamin Netanyahu in his books and speeches, the Iraqi government itself was not involved in terrorist acts against the US.

Iraq has become an area where attacks on US soldiers became a continuous activity only after the "regime change" in Iraq.

So, in what way has "capturing or killing the top 55 Iraqis" has lead to any diminution of terrorism in the world?
8USG has made somewhat slower progress tracking down the Taliban - Omar, Hekmatyar, etc.Before the US war against Afghanistan neither the Taliban, nor Hekmatyar were actively engaged in any military operations against the US. They began fighting the US only after the occupation of Afghanistan by the US. So, how did the Afghan war diminish the number of people actively fighting the US?Although the US did win the war against Afghanistan, this "victory" was a loss in the War on Terror, because it has increased the number of people fighting a war against the US.
9With respect to the Ansar Al-Islam, we are just getting started.Will this be more successful than the war against Al-Qaida?The US government still believe they can eliminate terrorism by killing terrorists. But this has never worked, except in some cases of massive genocide.
10Have we fashioned the right mix of rewards, amnesty, protection and confidence in the US?No "mix of rewards, amnesty, [and] protection" will eliminate terrorism. As far as "confidence in the US", it is falling even in the US itself, and outside of US it is lower than it has ever been.As long as the US government retain their naive belief that terrorism can be stopped by finding the right mixture of "rewards, amnesty, [and] protection", they will not be able to eliminate terrorism.

The British had tried all these techniques in India and their other colonies for many decades, and have discovered experimentally that the only way to stop anti-British terrorism in the colonies was to withdraw from them.

The French and other European ex-colonial powers had similar experience.
11Does DoD need to think through new ways to organize, train, equip and focus to deal with the global war on terror?No, it does not. What is needed is to take a completely fresh look at the problem of terrorism.Because the US government do not understand that the anti-American terrorism in the world today is a direct result of their own policies, by continuing to pursue these policies instead of eliminating terrorism they only increase it.
12Are the changes we have and are making too modest and incremental? My impression is that we have not yet made truly bold moves, although we have made many sensible, logical moves in the right direction, but are they enough?The issue is not the speed or volume of the changes, but their direction. If one travels in the wrong direction, one does not arrive at the goal faster by increasing the speed. On the contrary the faster one moves in the wrong direction, the further away one moves from the goal.Have US government ever asked themselves, why their former allies Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, have turned into enemies of the US? Trying to answer that question might help understand how people become "terrorists".
13Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror.The whole idea of the War on Terror is based on the assumption that there exists a fixed number of terrorists in the world, killing whom would rid the world of terrorism. Hence the idea of "metrics".Having misunderstood the phenomenon of terrorism, the US government are looking for measuring something which is th product of their own imagination.
14Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?No, you are not.But it is not "the madrassas and the radical clerics" who are "recruiting" terrorists against the US". It is the policies of the US government that arouse the hostility which drives people towards hostile acts against the US. The "clerics" are just part of these people. They might be heading some groups, but it the US policies that inspire them to do so.
15Does the US need to fashion a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists?No, it does not. It needs a radical change of policies and of philosophy of government.Since the reasons for existence of anti-US terrorism are the policies of the US government, the only way to prevent anti-US terrorism is to change these policies.
16The US is putting relatively little effort into a long-range plan, but we are putting a great deal of effort into trying to stop terrorists. The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists' costs of millions.The efforts that US government is putting "into trying to stop terrorists" have only local and temporary effect. Like preventing certain types of attacks by various security measures. But whatever they put into "a long-range plan" is not only wasteful, but counter-productive.Since the start of the War on Terror the anti-American hostility around the world has greatly increased. And because it is this hostility that drives anti-US terrorism, the terrorist base is increasing not reducing.
17Do we need a new organization?To do what?Setting up new organizations without a clear understanding why they are necessary is not going to achieve any positive results. At the very best it will be just more "money down the drain", and it can even make matters worse.
18How do we stop those who are financing the radical madrassa schools?By radically changing the policies of the US government.The reason that madrassa schools are "radical" (that is anti-US), and people are willing to finance them is that many people see in the US an enemy of Muslims. This view is the result of the American support for Israel, American interference in Muslim countries, various anti-Muslim and anti-Arab pronouncement by US "public figures", and of the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq.
19Is our current situation such that "the harder we work, the behinder we get"?Yes, it is.The fact that Donald Rumsfeld is asking this question is a positive sign. If this questioning will be sincere, will go to the root of the problem, the problem will be understood and the correct solutions are found and implemented, then this situation will change for the better.
20It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog.It is important to define with sufficient precision and level of detail the goals which the US government want to achieve in Afghanistan and Iraq. Without such definition it is impossible to know what situation in Iraq will be seen as "victory" for the coalition.The initial goal of the war in Iraq was to disarm Iraq from WMD, then the goal was changed to a "regime-change". Now there is no WMD and no "regime". Is this a victory? And, if not, then what does the coalition hope to achieve?
21Does CIA need a new finding?Not unless they know what they are going to do with the new funds.It is common for government departments to blame their own failures on lack of funds. They say, "If we only had more money we would have succeeded". But spending more money on a problem, for which one does not know the correct solution, is just more money "down the drain".
22Should we create a private foundation to entice radical madrassas to a more moderate course?No, this will not work. But a radical change of US government policies would remove anti-American feelings from the madrassas without any private foundations.Just imagine what chance of success would a madrassa teacher have, if he tells his students, "Sharon is a man of peace", or "Israel has right to defend itself", or "America is a friend of the Muslim countries"? He would be "booed" not just in a madrassa, but even in an American university.
23What else should we be considering?Abandoning the War on Terror altogether and moving towards supra-national government.The positive effect of the War on Terror so far is the fact that Donald Rumsfeld has begun to think and ask questions. There is a clear need for a radical re-examination of the US defence policies.

The world has become global and the old nationalistic and imperial policies are obsolete. No nation will succeed in ruling the world. But the world needs a supra-national government to resolve disputes between nation states and to maintain global peace and security.

This is a new unprecedented "world order", but this is the only "world order" that can be truly stable and secure. Sooner or later such world order will come into being. The question is how many human lives and resources will have to be wasted on a hopeless war before the US government accept this obvious truth?

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