CIAO DATE: 9/01
From CIAO's Board: Commentary on the Terrorist Attacks against the United States
I agree very much with what Steph Haggard has been saying, perhaps because we are focused a lot on the interaction of domestic and international politics. I also agree with Steve Walt but am less sanguine about Bob Keohanes hopes.
1. Our failure to end Saddam Hussein's rule in Iraq is going to continue to haunt us. His survival has been a sign that others too can survive US pressure. And continuing US and allied attacks on Iraq have not helped US standing in the Mid-East. We should not "complete" our efforts now without remembering this.
2. Much as we do not want our "relationship" with the terrorists or states that support them to be a bargaining one; it has elements of that. The terrorists are exceedingly smart in not making any explicit demands and in not telling us what we can do to avoid future attacks. This makes bargaining with them, even tacitly, difficult. This also leads us to have to conjure up what it is they could be upset about (whether or not that is the case) and then to self censor our behavior. Such self censoring is very powerful; it feels much less coercive than if someone tells you what they want you to do. And the worse the pain inflicted, the more you are willing to try to make sure it does not come back. Steve Walt's piece shows this at work. Changing our support for Israel may or may not be what they really want, but if we think it is and do it, we hope, that maybe they won't be so likely to attack us again. It now seems to be in our "interest" to do this.
3. IR theory does not help much. Transnational coalitions of terrorists are not our standard unit of analysis. What is the balance of power? Using our own planes against us is not standard military attack procedure. Having an enemy with no territorial boundaries, no real military and no firm demands is not what we expect. On the other hand, there are some concepts and ideas that we have that are useful. Deterrence is still useful. Raising the costs of their actions can deter some of them from doing bad things to us. Unfortunately, many deterrence tasks are going to be very unsavory and thus probably undoable for the US. Diplomacy and economic sanctions and rewards are important. Helping Pakistan economically could do a great deal for us. And as Steve says, let's trade away NATO expansion and the missile shield for Russian help. Military force as part of a broader strategy is also important. But Clausewitz remains relevant; it must be harnessed to our larger political goals. The terrorists may be angry about our support for their domestic regimes (e.g., Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Jordan, UAE, Kuwait), and hope that we will bring these regimes down by our clumsy actions. We cannot afford to undermine them by inciting their domestic publics to throw them out, aka Iran. Two-level games are important to consider here. Moreover, as Laitin and Fearon suggest for controlling ethnic conflict, we have to get Arabs and Muslims to be willing to control their own people. They must call a halt to support for such groups, and be willing to police them on their own. Under what conditions is this most likely?
4. The problem is not states that are strong, but ones that are weak and failing. These are states where the regime lacks either actual control over lands within the borders or lacks legitimate control (in the eyes of many) over a monopoly on the use of force. Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Lebanon are on the front line in this part of the world; Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Algeria, Egypt etc. have weak regimes with significant domestic opposition. The West has to help these regimes maintain and increase control and legitimacy. We didn't do a very good job in South Vietnam. But we did a much better job in West Germany and Japan. Unfortunately, most of this part of the world looks more like South Vietnam. Strengthening states, not weakening them, is of central importance.
5. Has any world
power ever "defeated" a major terrorist group in the long run? The
Romans unfortunately lost their empire as a result of both a collection of "foreign
barbarian attacks" (terrorists?) and internal chaos (succession problems
and those pesky Christians). The Chinese haven't done that well either on this
front in history. The West Germans did ok, but the "cause" of the
terrorists went away with the fall of the Soviet Union. I don't think radical
Islam is going away soon.
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