Thursday, July 06, 2006

The War on Terror I: A Failure Across the Board

I have said early and often that the Bush administration's efforts in the War on Terror have been a failure pretty much across the board.

But why take my word for it?

Foreign Policy magazine surveyed 116 foreign policy experts for its July-August issue on the question. Their conclusion:
The Bush’s administrations efforts in the War on Terror have been a failure pretty much across the board.

The survey results shown in the chart were weighted to give equal weight to the responses of self-described liberals and conservatives. The survey concluded that:

Despite today’s highly politicized national security environment, the index results show striking consensus across political party lines. A bipartisan majority (84 percent) of the index’s experts say the United States is not winning the war on terror. Eighty-six percent of the index’s experts see a world today that is growing more dangerous for Americans. Overall, they agree that the U.S. government is falling short in its homeland security efforts. More than 8 in 10 expect an attack on the scale of 9/11 within a decade.

Why the despair?

The experts conclude that nearly five years after 9/11 and after years of the Bush administration paying lip service to overhauling the U.S.’s national security apparatus, it remains in serious disrepair:
Foreign-policy experts have never been in so much agreement about an administration’s performance abroad. . . . The reason is that it’s clear to nearly all that Bush and his team have had a totally unrealistic view of what they can accomplish with military force and threats of force.

To read the entire survey, go here.

Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of Britain's MI6, shares the Foreign Policy experts' assessment. Speaking at the Aspen Institute's "Ideas Festival," he said that:
Just about everything in the American approach to the war on Islamic terrorism had been ill-conceived.

Terrorism is an extreme form of political communication. You want to be sure that, in your response, you don’t end up amplifying the messages that terrorists are trying to convey.
The Atlantic's James Fallows has more here.

(Hat tip to Kevin Drum at Politicial Animal.)

At the heart of last week's Supreme Court ruling rebuking the Bush administration for its tactics in the War on Terror is the slippery slope of who is a combatant and what rights he is afforded if he is captured.

As it turns out, this has great pertinence in the case of Gilad Shalit, a corporal in the Israeli Defense Force who was kidnapped by Palestinian militants, triggering the ongoing battles in Gaza.

Shalit is not a prisoner of war and is therefore not entitled to the full protection that international law affords POWs, according to Hebrew University international-law expert Yuval Shani, who told the Jerusalem Post that:
The Third Geneva Convention applies to states, and therefore only grants the status of POW when both parties in the war are states, or at least entities that are close to states. In the case of Shalit, the group that is holding him is not a state nor does it act on behalf of a state, or apparently on behalf of an entity which is close to being a state.

Nevertheless, Shani said, this was not to say that international law would not provide any protection to Shalit. There was an article in each of the four Geneva Conventions dealing with prisoners taken captive in conflicts which were not of an international nature, he said.

Two Italian intelligence officials have been arrested in the kidnapping of a radical Egyptian cleric in Milan in 2003 in the first indication that Italian intelligence agents might have been directly involved in what prosecutors say was an American-led operation to detain and interrogate the imam.

Prosecutors also seek the arrest of three operatives of the CIA and an employee of the American military airbase at Aviano. Last year, Italian prosecutors charged 22 other Americans, who were employed by or linked to the CIA, with involvement in the abduction of the cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr.

The practice of "extraordinary rendition," which involves seizing a terrorism suspect and transferring him to another country for interrogation, has caused a furor in Europe and governments there have been under intense pressure to disclose any knowledge of these renditions.
The Milan case is the first where a foreign government has filed criminal charges.

Laura Rozen has more at War and Piece.

Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, a Yale University student who was once a roving ambassador for the Taliban in Afghanistan, has been denied admission to a degree-granting program but apparently can continue to take courses at the university as an untraditional student in a non-degree program.

Hashemi became the focus of a contentious debate this spring after an article about his experience at Yale appeared in The New York Times Magazine in February.

My own view, expressed here, is that his sorry ass should have been thrown out of the country, let alone off campus.

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