CIAO DATE: 9/01
From CIAO's Board: Commentary on the Terrorist Attacks against the United States
Though the strategic discussion among us and in the country is still at a very early stage, it is already daunting to begin to realize how many layers of conundrums we are facing. A few of you have pointed out that a strategy needs to have carrots as well as sticks to attract a coalition of support, especially in light of the risk of backlash in unstable societies. Both the sticks and the carrots entail some devilishly perverse incentives that nobody has sorted through yet.
On the coercion side of the problem, that there may be a perverse incentive to make common cause with the most successfully repressive regimes in the region, precisely because they are the most immune from populist backlash. I was reading commentary in the Russian press today pointing out how terrific the Tashkent airbase in Uzbekistan would be as a staging post for another go at the Afghans. In comparison to the fragile, divided Pakistani government, the Uzbek regime would probably have an easier time dealing with their own population to damp down disgruntlement over cooperation with the US.
Another perverse incentive for coercion may be to enlist illiberal rebels like the Northern Alliance to go after terrorism-supporting regimes for us. The terrorists are no see ems, so instead we will target the governments that support them. But we cant very well conquer places like Afghanistan on our own, so we will be tempted to run guns in massive amounts to rebels who will (a) fight horribly bloody wars on our behalf, (b) violate every human rights norm known to mankind, (c) govern just as despotically as the governments they replace, for which the US will get blamed, and/or (d) get left in the lurch as soon as we no longer need them. The good part of this strategy is that it wouldnt require giving extra carrots to induce the cooperation of such rebels, since fighting with the US to oust the current regime is its own reward for these probably disreputable allies. It will be KLA redux.
For other kinds of allies, there will have to be side-payments to induce cooperation. In principle, it would be nice if these side payments were, say, development assistance to give young men a better alternative in life than signing up for terrorist organizations. But as we have seen in the case of Pakistan, the shopping list is longer than this. The wish-list includes items that will get us in even worse trouble in the region: sales of advanced weapons and help with the Kashmir issue.
In the Arab-Israeli dispute, weve already seen how hard it is to get success even with a strategy that combines strong coercion as well as economic and political carrots. The Israelis already tried to suppress terrorists in Southern Lebanon, but they had to get out, and now face an unraveling situation on other fronts, despite operating in the favorable context of economic carrots under the post-Olso regime and despite Baraks offers of concessions. Its not clear why devising a strategy of carrots and sticks will be any easier in other terrorist hot spots.
The Bush Administration
keeps saying that this crusade will be hard and will take a long time, but they
imply that the difficulty will be mainly one of military intelligence and logistics.
Rather, as various of your commentaries have pointed out, it will also be political.
Quite possibly, the more the strategy succeeds, the more it will fail, due to
backlash and systems effects. The lack of any common basis of political legitimacy
binding us to some indispensable allies in this war will make it
very difficult to avoid these perverse effects. The country and our allies need
to have a full discussion of this before we go off and just do it.
Kirkpatrick Professor of International Affairs
John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Professor of Public Policy, Duke University
Director, Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy
Response by Etel SolingenSteven Weber
Professor of Political Science
University of California, Irvine
Response by Stephan Haggard
Professor, Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies
University of California, San Diego
Response by Stephan HaggardPeter Katzenstein
Response by Robert Keohane