Thursday, May 25, 2006

Column on Fighting Terrorism Peacefully

[Please publish this ASAP]
How to Fight Terrorism Peacefully

Tibor R. Machan

It isn?t often that I will relinquish my chance of sounding off on a
vital topic to someone else but this time I find it just the thing to do.
My friend Alex Alexiev, who is now vice president at the Center for
Security Policy in Washington, D. C., has been promoting an idea related
to the effort to repel terrorism that simply hasn?t received the attention
that it deserves.

In a paper, titled ?America?s Iran Crucible: Beyond Yapping Dogs and
Superpowers Made of Straw,? Dr. Alexiev outlines a strategy for
undermining terrorism by means that should appeal to all those who find
direct military action premature and perhaps even unjustified. Let me
quote some crucial passages from this very provocative document, one that
sadly the American government hasn?t been paying attention to, despite its
declared purpose of dealing effectively with terrorism. In the section of
the paper titled ?The Political Warfare Option,? Alexiev makes the
following observations:

?The greatest promise for regime change in a democratic direction lies in
a well-designed campaign of political warfare toward that end. The nearly
complete absence of willingness on the part of the U.S. administration to
engage in a systematic political warfare effort is our greatest policy
failure to date in Iran and, indeed, in the war on terror as a whole. In
fact, the very term political warfare has disappeared from our lexicon,
except when used to describe campaigns against domestic political

?Yet, political warfare is and has always been an indispensable instrument
of national power in times of serious international conflict and the
United States has traditionally engaged in it, more often than not with
considerable success, as in the Cold War. It is of particular relevance in
conflicts of ideological nature like the current one that cannot be won by
military means alone. Instead, what we claim to be doing or are at least
interested in doing is something called ?public diplomacy? an
ill-conceived and futile exercise in political correctness unlikely to
provide any meaningful contributions to U.S. foreignpolitical desiderata.4

?Unlike public diplomacy, which seems to pursue the objective of
convincing our enemies that we are decent and well-meaning people or
provide answers to questions such as ?why they hate us,? political warfare
is about identifying an enemy?s internal weaknesses, analyzing them
carefully and developing an integrated strategy to exploit them through
the various instruments at the nation?s disposal. It is a strategy that
holds especial promise in dealing with opponents that run politically
oppressive and economically failing regimes that lack legitimacy and the
support of large parts of the population. In Iran?s case, the regime?s
vulnerabilities are numerous and glaring. It is a country where a
significant segment of society has no illusion as to the reactionary
nature of the regime and would support the democratization of the country.
It is also a country with a large, well-educated and, for the most part,
democratically-oriented diaspora in the West which could serve as the
catalyst in a democratization effor
t. Given these existing conditions, in order to be effective, a political
warfare campaign would have to be in sync with the quintessential
interests and aspirations of the Iranians themselves and help them
understand that while the mullah regime presents a problem for the West it
presents an existential threat to the socio-economic future and the
physical security of its people. A sophisticated political warfare
campaign would necessitate a detailed study of the regime vulnerabilities
and formulating a set of key messages to be delivered with the appropriate
instruments. This is clearly beyond the scope of this essay, but the few
examples below should provide a sample of what possibilities exist....?

Alexiev does not totally dismiss the usefulness of military preparedness
vis-à-vis Iranian fanaticism and President Ahmadinejad?s ?recent calls for
the annihilation of Israel.? He does, however, indict both America?s and
Europe?s failure to seriously to consider the political warfare option,
including the largely private option of divesting in corporations that do
business with terrorist countries.

It is interesting to note, by the way, that although intellectuals and
others on the American Left were passionately urging universities and
other organizations to divest in companies that used to do business with
rouge regimes such as South Africa, the divestiture option vis-à-vis
terrorist countries appears these days not to appeal much to Leftists.
Exactly why this is so is open to speculation but one possibility is the
politically correct mentality of multiculturalism. South Africa quite
rightly didn?t receive a pass on the grounds that, well, it just had a
different culture from ours. But it appears that Iran and other countries
that support terror do. So much for either consistency or wisdom from
those quarters.

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