Tags: U.S. | Must | Balance | Political | Objectives | Military | Operations

U.S. Must Balance Political Objectives, Military Operations, Experts Say

Friday, 21 September 2001 12:00 AM

The panel, assembled by the United States Institute of Peace, discussed ways Americans should deal with the newly emphasized threat of terrorism, in light of last week's attacks on New York City and the Pentagon.

Bruce Hoffman, terrorism expert and president of the RAND Corporation in Arlington, Va., said that the military is just one of the many weapons the U.S. will have to use on combating global terrorism, and despite what many may think, the use of military force will not be the most important element.

Above all, Hoffman said, the U.S. must ensure the world understands whom war has been declared on.

"No matter what we do, we have to ensure the world knows this is not a war against Islam or Afghanistan, but against terrorists," Hoffman said. "Our ability to think 'outside the box' is paramount in this struggle."

The panel agreed that America's new war is different in that there is no defined end in sight, such as forcing Iraq out of Kuwait in the early 1990s. Instead, it is a fight against not only one group of terrorists, but a global network of extremist groups.

Richard Solomon, president of the United States Institute of Peace, said the focus should be on using diplomacy to fight terrorists, by reinforcing that all nations are subject to such terrorist acts, thereby building a global coalition.

"We need to integrate political and military strategies ... to develop a strategy to bring down [terrorist] networks," he said. "There are three great policy challenges that our administration and the world coalition faces: one is we must find a way to wage war on terrorism, not on Islam; find if we can build a coalition of moderate Muslims, building from the middle and excluding extreme groups; and develop an effective strategy for dealing with terrorism at home."

Paul Bremmer, a former U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands, said one way to combat terrorism at home is to begin with major security changes in air travel. According to Bremmer, air travel was much more secure in the 1970s, when air marshals flew sporadically on commercial flights and cockpit doors remained locked during flight.

"Curbside baggage check and e-tickets were not the cause of last week's attacks," he said, alluding to new security restrictions now in place in airports nationwide. "The problem is not on the ground, but in the air."

Bremmer added that several new security measures, such as newly secured cockpits, at least one-armed member of the flight crew and flight attendants armed with non-lethal weapons, such as mace or stun guns, would solve some of the problems that caused last week's tragedy.

Allen Holmes, a career foreign service officer and adjunct professor at Georgetown University, said the U.S. should make home defense a priority, but offensive action will prove to be more powerful to counter terrorism.

"Self protection is necessary, but the U.S. must go on the offense in order to confuse and throw [terrorist] groups off balance and moving," Holmes said.

One measure being tossed around by policy analysts and pundits nationwide is the question of whether the U.S. would ever launch a nuclear attack on a terrorist-harboring country like Afghanistan, especially in light of the administration's refusal to count nuclear warfare out as an option.

However, Holmes said there would never be a time where nuclear weapons would be even an option, but keeping them as an option is a powerful psychological tool.

"Not counting anything out is one of those psychological elements that keeps groups like this off balance," he said. "But there is no chance we would ever think about using nuclear weapons."

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The panel, assembled by the United States Institute of Peace, discussed ways Americans should deal with the newly emphasized threat of terrorism, in light of last week's attacks on New York City and the Pentagon. Bruce Hoffman, terrorism expert and president of the RAND...
U.S.,Must,Balance,Political,Objectives,,Military,Operations,,Experts,Say
605
2001-00-21
Friday, 21 September 2001 12:00 AM
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