Sunday, March 29, 2009

President Obama's strategy for defeating al-Qaida is not likely to succeed

A 3/27/09 Associated Press article, posted by Yahoo (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090327/ap_on_go_pr_wh/obama_afghanistan), reported the following quotes from President Obama's announcement about US military strategy for defeating al-Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan:
" 'So I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future,' the president said.
'That is the goal that must be achieved,' Obama added. 'That is a cause that could not be more just. And to the terrorists who oppose us, my message is the same: we will defeat you.' "

In contrast: according to a 2008 study produced by the RAND Corporation, military offensives such as those launched by President George W. Bush and continued by President Obama, rarely succeed in defeating terrorist groups. The report is called: "How Terrorist Groups End - Lessons for Countering al Qa’ida".

Here are some excerpts:

"All terrorist groups eventually end. But how do they end? Answers to
this question have enormous implications for counterterrorism efforts.
The evidence since 1968 indicates that most groups have ended because
(1) they joined the political process or (2) local police and intelligence
agencies arrested or killed key members. Military force has rarely been
the primary reason for the end of terrorist groups...."

"The good news about countering al Qa’ida is that its probability of
success in actually overthrowing any governments is close to zero. Al
Qa’ida’s objectives are virtually unachievable, and it has succeeded in
alienating most governments in Asia, Europe, North America, South
America, the Middle East, and Africa. Nor does it have a firm base of
support, as do such groups with welfare services, such as Hizballah and
Hamas. As al Qa’ida expert Peter Bergen concluded, 'Making a world
of enemies is never a winning strategy.'

"But the bad news is that U.S. efforts against al Qa’ida have not
been successful. Despite some successes against al Qa’ida, the United
States has not significantly undermined its capabilities. Al Qa’ida has
been involved in more attacks in a wider geographical area since September
11, 2001, including in such European capitals as London, than it
was before that date. Its organizational structure has also evolved. This
means that the U.S. strategy in dealing with al Qa’ida must change. A
strategy based predominantly on military force has not been effective.
Considering al Qa’ida’s organizational structure and modus operandi,
only a strategy based primarily on careful police and intelligence work
is likely to be effective."

You can download the entire report at: http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9351/

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