Sunday, June 04, 2006

History and evolution of terrorism

Paul Bremer: Keynote Address at the TD Waterhouse Investment Advisor Conference
Delivered 4 February 2005, San Diego, CA

Let me, begin, if I can, by just making you participate in a simple question and answer. With a show of hands, I'd be interested to see how many of you remember where you were on September 11th, 2001 -- just a show of hands.

Well, look around the room. It tells you what you need to know: September 11th was, as the President said in his 2nd Inaugural, "a day of fire." It was a day which basically changed America forever. And like everybody in this room, I was shocked by what happened on September 11th, but I was not surprised.

Gene mentioned that I had been privileged to Chair the bipartisan National Commission on terrorism. That Commission predicted to President Clinton and to the Congress of the United States fifteen months before September 11th that we should we should anticipate mass casualty attacks on a Pearl Harbor scale by Islamic extremists on the American homeland.

How did we reach that conclusion? We reached that conclusion by studying the evidence and by coming up with the facts. And before I talk about that I want to say that today I want to try to connect my view of the war on terrorism with what is happening in Iraq. I want to try to cover both subjects. But first let me tell a story on myself.

I was, as Gene mentioned, Ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism -- in charge of our country's counterterrorism programs in the late 1980's. And in that position we worked very closely with our European allies against the old kind of terrorists that we were facing.

In 1987 the French police found a large cache of explosives buried in a secret place in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris. ¹ They staked out the cache and arrested some men who came to pick up these explosives. The French Minister of Interior called me that afternoon and said, "Mr. Ambassador, you better come over to Paris right away. I have to tell you about this arrest we made." So I flew over that night and the next morning he told me that these men had admitted to being members of Hezbollah, a Lebanese terrorist group, and that they were going to use these explosives in casual -- in attacks trying to kill many, many Frenchmen. But what was interesting was not that. It was their objective. There stated objective was to create the Islamic Republic of France -- the Islamic Republic of France. Now, in 1987 this struck me as something of a fantastic idea. But, in fact, these men -- though I didn't know it at that time -- represented the face of the new terrorism that the National Commission reported on.

By way of background, the old terrorists, the people we fought in the 70's and 80's were groups of men who used terrorism as a tactical device to draw attention to their cause. They didn't want to kill a lot of people. They just wanted to kill enough to get [in] the newspapers there, so they could talk about their objectives. In effect, the old terrorists practiced self-restraint in the number of people they killed.

When we on the National Commission started looking at the facts of terrorism in the 1990's, we found three disturbing trends which contradicted the old kind of terrorism. The first was that, while the number of terrorist incidents in the 1990's was going down, the number of casualties was going up. The second fact was that suicide bombings and suicide deaths in terrorism were increasing dramatically -- whereas there'd been almost no suicides before in the 1970's and 80's. And thirdly we found that the states which supported terrorism, prominent among them Iraq, were all developing weapons of mass destruction. And so, it was our view, in The National Commission on Terrorism, that these three trends in the 1990's told us something about a new kind of terrorist -- a trend towards mass casualty terrorism.

What did we know and what do we know now about the motives of these people? Who are they? Well, first of all they've been remarkably open in their objectives. We, in the National Commission, studied their statements, their fatwas, their press conferences, and, of course, now you can study what they say on their web sites. And they are very clear: For more than a decade these people have said that they have the objective of converting, by force if necessary, all of the world to their extreme vision of Islam. And their extreme vision of Islam is an Islam which is necessarily at war with the West, at war with the West not just because they hate the superficialities of western civilization, but because they hate the very foundations of western civilization: the separation of Church and State, universal suffrage, women's education, and above all, they hate democracy. And rather than showing restraint in their terrorism, these terrorists intentionally want to kill as many people as possible.

You may remember that after the first attack on the World Trade Center which as in February of 1993, we captured a number of the perpetrators. And they confessed that their objective had been to kill 250,000 Americans. So, they've been very open about their objectives. They've been very open about wanting to kill thousands of people. And the new dimension which makes these terrorists particularly terrifying is the possibility that they could get their hands on nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological agents which would give them the capability of killing us in the hundreds of thousands. In effect, these new terrorists have declared a civil war inside Islam. They are trying to define Islam as inevitably at war with the West. And most of the victims a round the world have in fact been fellow Muslims. I will get back to that when I talk about Iraq.

Now, when I speak to a group like this almost always there comes a question afterwards about the root cause of terrorism, so I'll spare you that question by answering it now: What is the root cause? Why can't we do something about the root cause of terrorism? Well, ladies and gentlemen, it should be clear from what I've said that the root cause of this terrorism is nothing less than our existence, the existence of western civilization. They make this very clear. You can -- You can look -- You can go to the book and look it up. They hate us for what we are, and there's no compromise with these people. There's no neutral ground.

It's a fair question, then, to follow up and say, "But why do they hate us so much?" It's certainly not because of poverty. They're not joining these groups out of poverty. Those guys who killed 3000 Americans on September 11th were all well-educated, upper middle-class Arabs. Bin Laden is a centimillionaire. His chief ideologist, Al-Zawahri, is a well-educated, upper class Egyptian doctor. Bernard Lewis, who is president -- who is Professor Emeritus at Princeton University, and, I think, one of the most observant followers of Islam in this country, believes that a lot of this hatred is self-hatred and it comes out of the fact that in his view the Arab-Islamic countries have not found a way to reconcile themselves to the modern world. And he goes back and traces it over the last 300 years. This envy and self-hatred is the swamp out of which the hatred comes, he says. And I think it's a fair assessment. And if it's true, it has important implications for the situation in Iraq, and in the Arab world in general that I will get back to.

But, just to conclude on terrorism, this nexus between these world-hating Islamic extremists and their desire to kill us by the hundreds of thousands and the possibility of weapons of mass destruction is the national security threat to the United States at the beginning of the 21st century. They are deadly serious; they are prepared to die for their cause; and we have to be just as serious ourselves. Now let me turn to Iraq.


PBS Frontline Interview
Interview: L. Paul Bremer

What were your first thoughts on Sept. 11?

I have to say that I was shocked, like any American, about these attacks -- their audacity, really, their technical brilliance. But I was not surprised, because these attacks, in many ways, were the culmination of a very clear trend in terrorism in the last 10 years to try to create mass casualties. So it was not a surprise.

Why did it seem to be a surprise to so many people?

I think that the community of people who follows terrorism closely has usually been pretty small. I think it will be bigger now. That community of people had a pretty much a consensus in the last couple of years that we were going to see mass casualty terrorism attacks inside the United States. There had been three commissions -- two of which I was involved in, one of which I chaired -- which reached this conclusion within the last 15 months. So people who are interested in terrorism and who follow the question certainly were no surprised. We saw this coming, in a general sense; certainly not the actual way it was done.

Drawing from the beginning of our chronology, the Reagan administration comes into power. What were the lessons that were learned from the Carter administration and how the issue of terrorism was dealt with?

When Reagan came into office in 1981, as you will recall, he was sworn in at the very moment the terrorist government of Iran was letting our embassy people go. It was a very dramatic inauguration. I think it made quite a deep impression on the top people in the Reagan administration, from the president on down, that we had to deal forcefully with terrorism wherever we saw it. And that was certainly an early theme in the Reagan administration from, really, January 20 on.

By "forceful," what exactly does that mean? What was the policy?

The policy that was arrived at by the Reagan administration was based first on the concept that there will be no concessions made to terrorists. Secondly, that states which sponsored terrorism -- we had in mind very much Iran -- simply could not be allowed to have normal international relations with the rest of the world.

President Carter had already broken diplomatic relations in 1978 with Libya, and of course with Iran after the takeover of our embassy. So it's not as if this was a brand-new idea from the Reagan administration. But there certainly was a great deal more attention paid to terrorism as a foreign policy issue, and a view that we had not been forceful in responding to the takeover of the American embassy in 1979, and that that might be a bad precedent.

Libya is on the radar screen immediately. Why? What was taking place, and what do we do about it?

The Libyans were sponsoring terrorism, really, from the late 1970s on. And they were sponsoring attacks against friends and allies. There was, as you remember, quite a lot of terrorism in Europe at that time. Not all Libyan -- some from the Middle East.

The U.S. government basically felt very strongly that Qaddafi, with his oil wealth, had something that the other states did not have, which was a capacity to fund a lot of terrorism. And we knew he was, for example, actively funding the Irish Republican Army in Ireland, which was killing Irish and British citizens quite regularly. So there was a fairly clear view that, at that time, Qaddafi was, in effect, terrorist enemy number one. ...

The bombing of the Beirut embassy takes place. You were over in an embassy at that point. What does this do to our thinking? How does this change the way we deal with terrorism?

The bombing of the embassy in Beirut, which was in late 1983, had an immediate effect on any ambassador serving abroad, and certainly on me, in that the president made it very clear through the secretary of state that he held every American ambassador personally responsible for the security of his building. That led to additional measures at the embassy I was in, which was in the Netherlands -- measures that we hadn't taken. We had not been as sensitive to the possibility of a truck driving at a high speed into our embassy. So we took some physical security measures and so forth. I think it had a fairly dramatic effect on, at least, the diplomatic service to start paying attention to this as a threat to their embassy.

Why did we get caught surprised?

The problem with fighting terrorism is that the terrorist has two important asymmetries in his favor, whether it's 1983 in Beirut or 2001 in New York. The first asymmetry is that the defender -- that's us -- has to defend across the entire range of our vulnerabilities. You have to defend all the embassies, all the public buildings, whatever the target set is. And, of course, the terrorist has only to attack one. He doesn't have to attack them all. He can bring all of us force to bear on a single point, and that can be the weakest point.

The second asymmetry is that the cost of defense is dramatically different than the cost of offense. You can shoot up an airport with an AK-47 submachine gun; it costs you a thousand dollars maybe, with ammunition. Defending that airport will cost you millions of dollars.

And so these two asymmetries, in effect, reverse the conventional wisdom of military affairs, which holds that the offense must have a three-to-one advantage over the defense. In fact, it is dramatically different in terrorism. So it's always easy after the fact to say, "Well, why weren't we defending against a truck bomb in Beirut in 1983, or against an aircraft hijacking in 2001?" The fact is you can't defend across the entire range of your vulnerabilities.

George Shultz at the time, or a little after, is talking about covert action, [that] everything will be done against terrorism. To some extent, is that rhetoric? Or is it something that actually could be achieved with the tools that we had at hand?

Just because this is an asymmetrical fight doesn't mean you can't win battles in it. You certainly can win battles. And in order to win battles, you've got to be ready to use the full panoply of American power, whether it's diplomatic power, political, economic sanctions, all the way up through covert action, to psychological warfare, or actual military operations. You have to be prepared to use whatever of those tools, or however many of those tools you can use, either alone or in conjunction with other countries. When Secretary Shultz memorably said to Qaddafi, "You've had it," he meant that he was going to bring the full weight of the American government to bear on Qaddafi.

It's talked about by a lot of other people that we didn't have the human resources on the ground for intelligence. We tried some covert actions. There's the famous help of the Lebanese intelligence group and the blowing up of the car bomb in Beirut with 80 civilians killed, and the pullback. Did we have all the tools at hand, or indeed were we disabled to some extent, and why?

If you look back today over the last 25 years, it is a fact that we have had a progressive degeneration of our intelligence community in general; in particular in the field of human intelligence. It began with highly politicized attacks by Congress on the CIA in the mid-1970s. It was followed by a disastrous pruning of the action operatives in the CIA in the late 1970s. This is a long-term degeneration of our ability to get human intelligence. And in the target of terrorism, human intelligence is really the only good tool you've got in terms of finding out what's going on. ...

Now you're naming a problem that we knew about in the late 1970s. A lot of people say that we still have that problem today.

It's worse.

The question is, why?

The problem of getting human intelligence against terrorism has been exacerbated by the fact that, in 1995, the CIA imposed very restrictive guidelines on the recruitment of terrorist spies. That has not stopped the recruitment of those spies. We have some, but we don't have as many as we need. And you need to have those spies if you're going to prevent terrorist attacks.

Covert actions, the use of suicides squads to hit terrorists -- is that a necessary tool? Is that something that's possible?

What has happened in this, in my view, long-term deterioration of our intelligence abilities is we have created a risk-averse culture at CIA in going after terrorists. Part of it has to do with the progressive guidelines that have been established by successive directors of Central Intelligence from time to time -- particularly guidelines established in 1995, but others as well -- which have made it harder for CIA officers in the field to believe headquarters when it says, "Counterterrorism is our top priority." They simply don't believe it when they look at the administrative and bureaucratic hoops they have to go through in order to recruit a terrorist spy.

The Marine barracks is blown up in Beirut, and the embassy annex; we pull out the Marines. Looking back at that, was that a chapter we lost? What tools did not work, or what did work there?

In retrospect, one can obviously be critical of the way in which the Marines were deployed, the physical way in which they were deployed in a very exposed position. That's a decision that the commander on the ground made. And, unfortunately, it was wrong.

I believe, and believed at the time, it was a mistake to pull the Marines out after the attack on the Marines. My view [was] we should have left a presence. They should have been redeployed in a more secure or defensible position. I think it was a real victory for the terrorists to have attacked and killed [241] Marines and see the United States effectively turn and leave. I think that was a mistake. I think it fed the view among the terrorists that they could, in fact, succeed by using violence. ...

Can you talk about the importance of what took place [at the La Belle disco in Germany] and why the response?

The attack on Libya after they killed American servicemen in La Belle was really, in many ways, the turning point of our counterterrorist policy in the 1980s.

I actually was serving in Europe at the time. And at that particular time, the Netherlands, which was where I was serving, had the presidency of the European community. And so our diplomacy, vis-à-vis the Europeans and the run-up to the attack, was largely dependent on the Netherlands. I was very much involved in it.

Basically, we had seen a number of Libyan attacks. And we had been telling the Europeans for several years to take it more seriously. We sent a very clear message to the Europeans in March 1986 that we had exhausted all "peaceful means" -- the terms we were instructed to use. All peaceful means had been exhausted in our dealing with Libya. ...

I know for a fact that the attack on Libya had two very important consequences. Number one, we had very clear intelligence that the Libyans had been planning 34 or 35 subsequent attacks on American targets in Europe. Those were stopped immediately. The intelligence was clear.

And secondly, the attack on La Belle disco finally persuaded the Europeans we were really serious about terrorism. So when in the fall of 1986 Syria was convicted of being involved in attempting to bomb an airplane, I was sent around by the president to talk to our allies, and to say, "We're serious this time, too." And the allies remarkably essentially broke diplomatic relations with Syria. They didn't actually break; they withdrew their ambassadors. But that would have been unheard of if it hadn't been for the fact that we showed seriousness of purpose six months before in La Belle.

You have talked about your feeling that the terrorist nations, sponsors of terrorists, need to be dealt with very forcefully. Here is one situation where they were. There were other situations, especially hostage taking and bombings in Lebanon beforehand that Iran and Syria were tied to. Why did we never deal forcefully, militarily, with Syria or Iran?

Well, you have to remember that, at least until Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism was not the sole organizing principle of American foreign policy. We had other interests in Syria, and we had actually problems in Iran. In the case of Iran, during the period we're talking about, they had an ongoing war with Iraq. And I think the general attitude in our government was to let the Iraqis kill the Iranians. That seemed like a pretty good way to deal with the problem. So with Iran, it was a different matter.

With Syria, they were making the case -- which some found persuasive and some not so persuasive -- that they had a role to play in an eventual Middle East peace. So there were other elements to our relations. You can't just go to war with everybody over every issue. You have to have some prioritization when you do foreign policy. ...

[In] dealing with Iran, in the end how did that come to bite us in the butt, basically? How did that policy affect the policy in the end?

The decision to essentially buy our hostages' freedom from Iran was a real failure. We had more American hostages being held at the end of the process than at the beginning of the process, because as soon as it became evident that the United States was willing to pay for the release of its citizens, for every American walking around in Beirut, the price on his head went up.

As anybody who's dealt with blackmailers could have foreseen, therefore, the policy failed. And it had a very chilling effect on our overall counterterrorist policy for at least six months, because it removed the heart of our policy, which was not to make concessions to terrorists. It made us look hypocritical to the people around the world, our allies we were trying to deal with, and of course it made us look weak to the terrorists.

I read a quote that was interesting from you a year ago that Afghanistan was basically the Lebanon of the year 2000. Can you tell me what you mean by that?

There's a similarity in the challenge that's facing the [current] administration and the problem of the 1980s, which is the terrorists are able to operate freely in a territory. They were able to operate freely in Lebanon in the 1980s, because there was no functioning government in Beirut. They operate freely in Afghanistan now, because the government of Afghanistan encourages them or lets them, and it has become a cesspool of terrorism.

In my view, in terms of how we respond now, some of the lessons of the wars of 1970s and 1980s against terrorism are still valid. We have to show the world by our actions that we are really serious about this fight. If we can show the world that we are really serious about punishing the terrorists who conducted these attacks, and the government of Afghanistan, we will find that the rest of the world will give us more support, not less. They will respect us for our power. And they will understand that we're serious.

To some extent, this is a very difficult topic to deal with by any power. There wasn't really a policy that was followed, but it was sort of always catching up with what the event was, and coming up with something new each time. Is that off track? Is that true? How did we deal throughout all those years with the threat?

When the new wave of terrorism came on the modern world, which is the late 1960s, early 1970s, I think we spent about a decade, the United States and our allies, trying to figure out how to deal with it. It was very tactical. We didn't really know what we were up against. We underestimated the viciousness of the terrorist groups. They overplayed their hands. And through a number of terrorist attacks in Europe, and particularly the takeover of our embassy in Tehran in 1979, that galvanized the public and political leaders, first here in the United States and then in Europe, to come up with a strategy. I think we had a good strategy in the 1980s to deal with the terrorism we faced. It was based on no concessions, pressures on states, bringing terrorists to jail.

But the problem is that the terrorist threat moved out from under two-thirds of that strategy during the 1990s. The terrorists shifted their motives. People who were willing to die crashing an airplane into the World Trade Center are not going to be particularly deterred by the threat of a five-year prison sentence. So talking about bringing people like this to criminal justice is essentially irrelevant.

Similarly, talking about having a policy of no concessions -- when they're not asking for anything, there's no demand issue that says, "If you don't do X, we'll fly into the World Trade Center." They're not trying to start a negotiation.

These people hate the United States, not for what we do, but for who we are and what we are. It's a different kind of a threat. In the 1990s, the terrorist threat shifted out from under two-thirds of that strategy. The one part that still is valid is putting pressure on states which support terrorism. But we need to come up with a new and more flexible strategy for dealing with these people now.

Pan Am 103 was an interesting event in the way it was dealt with -- the idea that one can prosecute legally a terrorist, and somehow stop the threat. Tell me about that, and why Pan Am 103 was a shift and what we learned from it.

Pan Am 103 is really the bookend to the 1980s fight against terrorism. The handling of Pan Am 103 shows exactly that the strategy we designed in the 1980s did not fit for the new kind of terrorism, because with Pan Am 103, the objective was not to start a negotiation; it was to kill as many people as could be killed, in this case 270 people.

The idea of, therefore, punishing the people who did it by bringing them to a court of justice was wrong. It was ludicrous. It was the wrong answer. The fact that what we eventually got almost 10 years later was a conviction of a couple of minor operatives shows how naked this policy is in face of the new kind of terrorism we have.

What have we learned from all those years?

I think what we've learned is that the terrorist threat is serious, but it shifts. You cannot make a single person the sole focus of your counterterrorism. We had Qaddafi as the number one enemy from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s. Then we had Abu Nidal who appeared on the scene, and he was the number one enemy from the mid-1980s until the early 1990s. Now we have bin Laden. And the implication of that is if you can deal with this one guy, the threat will go away. The threat doesn't go away, it evolves.

What you need to do, and certainly is sort of the central lesson, is you need to have a policy and tools which evolve as the threat evolves. And that's the challenge that we're into right now.

What have the terrorists learned about us?

The terrorists have learned that we have a lot of vulnerabilities, particularly inside the United States, which had not been attacked before. The first large-scale attack in the United States was the first World Trade Center attack in 1993, almost 25 years after terrorism really started again. So it took a long time for them to attack us. Now they know we're vulnerable here. And that's certainly one lesson they've learned.

I hope they're going to learn, and as a result of our response, that it isn't going to work. They're not going to change our life, they're not going to have us throw out our Constitution, and they're not going to chase us out of the Middle East.

In the National Interest
Bush, Iraq and the War on Terror
A Conversation with Ambassador L. Paul Bremer

Q: Some commentators, both here in the United States and in Europe, were hoping that the President would present a more detailed position for action against Iraq. Some of the post-speech reaction is that the President said "nothing new" in Cincinnati. Do you think that President Bush strengthened the case that action needs to be taken against Iraq?

A: Well, I think that there were a couple of new elements in the speech, but I don't think that anything in it was strikingly new nor do I think anything was intended to be. I must also say that I don't think the President's remarks were directed at the Europeans, but rather at a domestic audience--the American people and the Congress. I believe he certainly began to lay out a stronger case in support of taking action against Iraq. Judging by the reaction of American politicians, what they are saying, it seems to me that he achieved that goal. The White House quite properly cautioned that this speech would not present a great deal of new material, and there was not much new in it--but it was a well laid-out case. What was new, however, was that President Bush essentially went through each of the arguments that has been presented as a reason for not taking action against Iraq, and addressed each one.

Q: In the last issue of In the National Interest, Michael O'Hanlon argued that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has been "deliberately misleading the country about the presence of a 'smoking gun' link between Saddam and Al-Qaeda." (LINK: Should the administration continue to draw the connections between the Iraqi regime and terrorism, or is it more productive to focus on Iraq's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction?

A: In my view, it is incontestable that Iraq has supported terrorism. Iraq has been on the State Department list of states that support terrorism for more than twenty years. At least two major terrorist groups have had their headquarters openly in Baghdad for most of that time--the Palestine Liberation Front and the Mujahedin-e Khalq. Moreover, as the President said last night, known international terrorists like Abu Abbas and Abu Nidal have lived openly in Baghdad--in the case of Abu Abbas, more than twenty years, and Abu Nidal, for more than a decade. So it is incontestable that Iraq is a supporter of terrorism, and on that there is no disagreement. [NOTE: Public denunciation of Iraq's sponsorship of terrorism predates 9/11. The cases cited by the President were covered, for example, in the Patterns of Global Terrorism report for 2000, especially in the report's Overview, which can be accessed at]

It is also clear that there are reports --reports that are credible and that date back for the past decade--of meetings between Al-Qaeda and members of the Iraqi government. We know that Iraqi officials have helped to train members of Al-Qaeda in the use of biological and chemical weapons. So then you have the question of September 11.

I read Michael O'Hanlon's article, which I felt was very narrowly focused on the question of whether Iraq is, in some fashion, culpable for the September 11 attacks. That is a narrow question. Certainly, if you indeed had conclusive evidence of Iraqi sponsorship of that specific attack, you would certainly have a causus belli. However, in my view, it does not really have much bearing on the larger issue--there is more than sufficient evidence to establish Iraq's support of terrorism.

Indeed, I think O'Hanlon misses the point about the meeting in Prague [between the 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer operating under diplomatic cover, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, in April 2001], that he seems to dismiss offhand. For the last six months, people have gone back to the Czech Intelligence Service, over and over, and every time, the Czechs reply that they are positive that this meeting took place. To then implicitly call the Secretary of Defense a liar in the face of that seems a bit over the top. However, I must again reiterate that I think the whole article is a bit of a red herring. Its implication--that we should not pursue action against Iraq because we do not have proof that Saddam Hussein masterminded September 11--is incorrect. Saddam's support for terrorism is clear, it is documented, and it has been there for years. In fact, Saddam's support for terrorism has been going on for years, long before the whole issue of his weapons of mass destruction rose to the fore, which is, after all, a separate issue.

Q: Based on your assessment of the reactions to the speech, what happens now? Where do we go from here?

A: For more than three months, I have been saying that once the President made up his mind on Iraq, three things would happen. First, the President would have the complete support of his Cabinet. Second, he would have overwhelming support in the Congress to take action. Third, our allies would join us. I believe that even the Germans will find a way to participate, whether by sending military police or hospital units. The Europeans will be there.

I do not anticipate that a new United Nations Security Council resolution will be vetoed. While I cannot foresee what the resolution will say specifically, I think that it will be satisfactory. I saw the comments made by Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov [LINK:]. Certainly, each of the other permanent members, the Russians, the French, and so forth, have their own particular interests, but they are not going to veto a resolution. The Chinese will not, either.

At that point, the question then becomes: What happens, once a resolution is passed? I predict that Saddam at first will proclaim his defiance, that he will not accept its conditions, but as the deadline draws closer he will change his position, in an attempt to have last-minute negotiations. The administration hopes, however, and I share this hope, that at that point, there will be no negotiations, just a recognition that the game is up.

Q: For the last year, some people have cited the old proverb, "If you chase two rabbits, you'll catch neither", meaning that preparing for action against Iraq will distract from the war against Al-Qaeda.

A: I thought that the president handled that issue rather well on Monday. The "two rabbits" approach strikes me as confusing tactics with strategy. The strategic interest in the war on terrorism is to find a way to reduce state support for terrorism, because, in the end, terrorists need territory from which to operate--whether that is Afghanistan or Iraq or Sudan or Somalia. They have to have some place where they can put their feet on the ground. From a strategic point of view, therefore, dealing with the regime in Iraq in fact is a major step in the fight against terrorism. Now, we have the biggest military force in the world--and we certainly can find a way to continue pursuing the terrorists while dealing with Iraq. Moreover, the war against Al-Qaeda, at this point, is no longer a military war--it is now a war of intelligence and law enforcement. It is not as if we are going to have to have five divisions deployed somewhere in the world to fight Al-Qaeda; that part of the war is over. So I just don't see the contradiction here.

The President has to keep his eye on the strategic vision behind the war on terror--that is his job. I agree with him that dealing with Iraq is a good step in the long-term strategy of defeating terrorism as a force in international affairs.

The Hon. L. Paul Bremer, chairman and chief executive of Marsh Crisis Consulting, served as chairman of the National Commission on Terrorism and is a member of the President's Homeland Security Advisory Council.

By L. Paul Bremer
September 12th, 2001
L. Paul Bremer, managing director of Kissinger Associates, was ambassador-at-large for counter-terrorism during the Reagan administration.

NEW YORK -- We don't know yet who committed the catastrophic terrorist acts in the United States on Tuesday (Sept. 11). But these acts have all the hallmarks of the new face of terrorism with which we are becoming all too familiar.

In the 1970s and 1980s, anti-American terrorists had raw political goals. Radical European Marxist groups (Action Directe, Red Brigades, Red Army Faction) sought to expel America from Europe and to destroy NATO; Middle Eastern terrorism was mostly conducted by secular Marxists whose objective was to weaken America's ties to Israel, the better to destroy Israel.

These political terror groups were tightly organized, with well-defined command-and-control structures. They were content to attack U.S. targets in Europe or the Middle East because such targets were easier to hit. And blowing up buildings in Frankfurt or Cairo delivered a message clearly related to the groups' political objectives.

Now, we are witnessing the emergence of religio-ideological terrorism similar to the radical Iranian fundamentalism of 1979. To these terrorists America is the Great Satan, the symbol of global capitalist corruption, pornography and drugs. Whereas the secular terrorists of the 1980s hated America for whom we supported, these thugs hate America for what we are. They seek not a shift in American policy but the destruction of American society. To them it is a real Holy War.

(c) 2001, Global Viewpoint. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate
International, a division of Tribune Media Services.
For immediate release (Distributed 9/12/01)


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