Contributors: Martin Indyk, Flynt Leverett, Kenneth Pollack, James Steinberg, Shibley Telhami, and Tamara Cofman Wittes, all connected with the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution.
A Saban Center Report
The Bush Doctrine of preemptive war and unilateral action has been marked by incompetence--missed opportunities to capture Osama bin Laden, failures of postwar planning for Iraq, and lack of an exit strategy. But Shapiro contends that the problems run deeper. He explains how the Bush Doctrine departs from the best traditions of American national-security policy and accepted international norms, and renders Americans and democratic values less safe. He debunks the belief that containment is obsolete. Terror networks might be elusive, but the enabling states that make them dangerous can be contained. Shapiro defends containment against charges of appeasement, arguing that force against a direct threat will be needed. He outlines new approaches to intelligence, finance, allies, diplomacy, and international institutions. He explains why containment is the best alternative to a misguided agenda that naively assumes democratic regime change is possible from the barrel of an American gun.
President Bush has defined the War on Terror as the decisive ideological struggle of our time. Shapiro shows what a self-defeating mistake that is. He sets out a viable alternative that offers real security to Americans, reclaims America's international stature, and promotes democracy around the world.
Inter-state cooperation, which affects domestic and foreign policies, requires some convergence of political cultures among those cooperating states. This book begins by analyzing five hotspot situations and their regional effects: the Basques in Spain, the ethnic Albanians in Macedonia, the Kurds in Turkey, the Chechens and Russia; and the Palestinians, Israel, and a future Palestinian state. These cases shed some light on how we should understand, characterize, and categorize terrorism, and they provide insights into the concepts of political legitimacy, liberal democracy, political culture, and political community. As the United States assesses its homeland defense posture, it must resist any temptation to weaken its liberal democratic values, and, as a superpower, it must encourage other states to adhere to liberal democratic values as well. Liberal democracy is a security imperative in today's global security environment.
The book begins with a look at the transition from the Cold War to an era of globalization that facilitated the 9/11 terrorist attacks, then explains how the al Qaeda organization founded by Osama bin Laden has transformed into a global network of like-minded terrorist groups collectively known as Al Qaeda and Associated Movements, or AQAM. The author then discusses the components of strategy before walking the reader through the elements of national power (Diplomatic, Information, Military, Economic, Intelligence, Law Enforcement) used by the United States in a comprehensive and coordinated effort to reduce the risk of terrorist violence against American citizens and interests worldwide. He concludes with a look at the global hotspots where the United States will likely be involved for the foreseeable future, a brief discussion of what constitutes victory in this framework, and the role the United States will have to take on in the international system in the future.
The greatest danger to America’s peace and prosperity, notes leading Middle East policy analyst Kenneth M. Pollack, lies in the political repression, economic stagnation, and cultural conflict running rampant in Arab and Muslim nations. By inflaming political unrest and empowering terrorists, these forces pose a direct threat to America’s economy and national security. The impulse for America might be to turn its back on the Middle East in frustration over the George W. Bush administration’s mishandling of the Iraq War and other engagements with Arab and Muslim countries. But such a move, Pollack asserts, will only exacerbate problems. He counters with the idea that we must continue to make the Middle East a priority in our policy, but in a humbler, more humane, more realistic, and more cohesive way.
Pollack argues that Washington’s greatest sin in its relations with the Middle East has been its persistent unwillingness to make the sustained and patient effort needed to help the people of the Middle East overcome the crippling societal problems facing their governments and societies. As a result, the United States has never had a workable comprehensive policy in the region, just a skein of half-measures intended either to avoid entanglement or to contain the influence of the Soviet Union.
Beyond identifying the stagnation of civic life in Arab and Muslim states and the cumulative effect of our misguided policies, Pollack offers a long-term strategy to ameliorate the political, economic, and social problems that underlie the region’s many crises. Through his suggested policies, America can engage directly with the governments of the Middle East and indirectly with its people by means of cultural exchange, commerce, and other “soft” approaches. He carefully examines each of the region’s most contested areas, including Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Lebanon, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and explains how the United States can address each through mutually reinforcing policies.
At a time when the nation will be facing critical decisions about our continued presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, A Path Out of the Desert is guaranteed to stimulate debate about America’s humanitarian, diplomatic, and military involvement in the Middle East.
From the Hardcover edition.