Repairing U.S. Global, Political Failures to Take Years
(13 September 2007) The International Institute of Strategic Studies found that the United States is suffering from a severe identity crisis, lacks leadership, has failed to eliminate terrorist threats from al Qaeda, and failed to bring stability to both Afghanistan and Iraq all within six years.
In an annual report: Strategic Survey 2007, the group analyzed political events of the past 10 months and mapped these causes back six years.
A few countries, notably Russia and Iran, have flexed their muscles regionally and feel more confident in their relative power. In other countries some radical groups sought to discredit their own leaders for maintaining solid relations with the United States. Other countries appeared to hedge their diplomatic relations with the United States by strengthening their links with regional powers rather than directly embrace the White House, the group concluded.
In the past six years, relations between Russia and the West took a marked turn for the worse and the domestic situation in Pakistan became both more fragile and convoluted, a worrying development given the general campaign against terrorism and the particular conflict in Afghanistan.
"There is increasing evidence, Strategic Survey argues, that ‘core’ al Qaeda is proving adaptable and resilient, and has retained the ability to plan and coordinate large-scale attacks in the Western world. Regional jihadist groups such as al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and al Qaeda in the Maghreb have sworn allegiance to al Qaeda and have begun to show ambitions beyond parochial concerns in support of al Qaeda’s global objectives. Plots that have come to light in Europe and elsewhere point to a growing trend of Islamic radicalization," the group found.
On the heels of testimony before Congress by General David Petraeus on progress in Iraq the group agreed with the progress report in that a recent troop surge impeded al Qaeda's ability to deploy mass casualty attacks in Mesopotamia (Iraq.)
"[The United States] has also constrained the activities of Shia death squads attempting to exact revenge by terrorizing Sunni residential areas in the capital. Although the data on Iraq are clearly open to analysis, the level of violence fluctuates from month to month and remains higher than in 2004 and 2005, civilian casualties have dropped from their peak in the second half of 2006. In June, July and August 2006, for example, Baghdad suffered from an average of 42 car bombs a month. This average dropped to 23 during the same period this year."
Sustaining this progress however is entirely dependent upon Iraq's security forces, but these parties are still 18 months (minimum) away from being effective. The national police force now requires an overhaul too.
The United States must pressure each and every politician in Iraq to reform the country the group concluded, "ranging from the removal of sectarian actors through to the unbiased delivery of government services. If these targets are not met then the United States might have to consider reducing its financial and security support for those ministries and ministers not complying with its requests."
The group suspects that in 2008 --as the westernized powers talk rhetoric and assume their roles all powerful -- radicals around the world would continue to fight those states and alliances. "As Strategic Survey has argued this year, the shifts in the global balance of power and the continued growth of anti-state terrorism carry uncertain results."
China is too strong to be seen as just a developing nation, though still too weak definitively to shape its regional environment alone. The United States is too strong to stay on the sidelines of global events, but too weak to implement an agenda that it has set without wide agreement the authors stated.
Russia has accumulated great economic power at the state level but wields it in a way that weakens its reputation and causes distrust. Europe has reputation and economic strength but limited strategic vision and ever declining military power. Calling the situation a non-polar world, the space for aggressive non-state actors to advance their strategic aims has increased. In 2008, managing nuclear proliferation and terrorism will remain the priorities, but the unsettled relations, rivalries and shifting strengths of the powers that see themselves as custodians of the state system will make the necessary coordination of approaches to these threats immensely difficult.
Since leadership in Washington DC continues to faulter the risks of international tensions "will spill over and endanger global prosperity," the report concluded.
As there have been a string of threats from so called terrorist groups across Europe, the increase in this activity was tied directly to the United States' failure to disarm al Qaeda as the White House claimed.
"The United States and its allies have failed to deal a deathblow to al Qaeda; the organization's ideology appears to have taken root to such a degree that it will require decades to eradicate," the report concluded.
Aside from that it will take years, perhaps decades, for the United States to regain international respect due to failures in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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