Coming back to the point

The media attention Richard Clarke is currently receiving is helping to swing back attention from Iraq, to the war against terrorism. Brahma Chellaney’s article in the Japan Times is a very good read

Instead of targeting terrorist cells and networks wherever they exist, U.S. President George W. Bush is being compelled by critics at home and abroad to justify his invasion of Iraq. In the process, it has been virtually forgotten that 9/11 happened not because of Iraq but because of the terrorist nurseries in the Afghanistan-Pakistan belt. In fact, by speciously linking Iraq with al-Qaeda to justify its invasion, Washington created a self-fulfilling prophesy that now haunts it…

The first lesson is to keep the focus on longer-term goals and not be carried away by political expediency and narrow objectives. By focusing on immediate goals, U.S. policymakers in the past ended up creating monsters that they now have to fight.

A second lesson is not to turn the war against terrorism into an ideological battle to serve one’s strategic interests. The Bush team is widely seen to have employed the antiterror war to expand U.S. military, diplomatic and energy interests in an unprecedented manner and position U.S. forces in the largest array of nations since World War II.

Another lesson is that the problem of and solution to terrorism are linked. Terrorism not only threatens the free, secular world but also springs from the rejection of democracy and secularism. The terrorism-breeding swamps can never be fully drained as long as the societies that rear or tolerate them are not de-radicalized and democratized.

The war on terror, in the final analysis, can be won only by inculcating a secular and democratic ethos in societies steeped in religious and political bigotry. That means building and sustaining an international consensus.[Japan Times]