New US counter-terrorism strategy focuses more on homeland security

13:45, July 05, 2011      

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The United States will continue to perceive al-Qaeda and its affiliates as a primary security threat and will pay more attention to native terrorists radicalized by al-Qaeda ideology, according to the new National Strategy for Counter-Terrorism recently released by the U.S. government.

"This is the first counter-terrorism strategy that designates the homeland as a primary area of emphasis in our counter-terrorism efforts. Going forward, we will be mindful that if our nation is threatened, our best offense will not always be deploying large armies abroad but delivering targeted, surgical pressure to the groups that threaten us," said John Brennan, a homeland security and counter-terrorism advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama.

There are at least two reasons why the new strategy emphasizes the threat of homeland terrorism. First, the terrorism threat facing the United States has not diminished despite the death of Osama bin Laden. The decentralized al-Qaeda network has made it more difficult for U.S. counter-terrorism forces to find an effective target, and the sustained pressure against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan has forced the group to launch more terrorist attacks from inside the United States. Second, Obama is expected to seek re-election in 2012 and therefore must first ensure the safety of the American people, otherwise his major achievement of killing bin Laden will come to naught.

The Obama Administration's new strategy shows a significant reduction trend compared with the Bush Administration's counter-terrorism strategy in 2006. Obama has focused the Bush Administration's "global war on terror" on Afghanistan and Pakistan since taking power. The United States will further shift attention to prevent domestic terrorist threats along with the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. The counter-terrorism picture of the new strategy is very wide in range, including the United States, South Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, East Africa, Southeast Asia and Central Asia, which is still a "global terrorism picture." However, Obama stressed avoiding the use of large-scale armies coupled with greater reliance on cooperation between Special Forces and intelligence agencies, and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to launch high-precision and low-cost anti-terrorism strikes. This reduction trend is due to differences in concepts and the economic and financial pressure currently in the United States.

In a wider perspective, it is clear that the United States currently has a more important global strategic goal than the fight against terrorism. The goal of the United States in the past decade can be defined as "the fight against terrorism," but the United States is unwilling to use the same definition for its goal for the decade ahead. Although the fight against terrorism has helped the United States expand its global strategic layout, the continued fight against terrorism has after all undermined its power and some of its actions taken under the cover of fighting against terrorism have led to discontent from around the world. The international financial crisis over recent years has further weakened the hard and soft power of the Untied States. U.S. politicians and the masses are both deeply aware that the country's top agenda is to revive the economy and to cope with challenges more effectively.

The new strategy of the United States does not comment on its policies related to the fight against terrorism. To the Untied States, the fight against terrorism has yet to end. When bin Laden was alive, the fight against terrorism was "a war between a country and a person," and after bin Laden was killed, the fight became "a war between a country and a type of ideology."

Those who celebrated the killing of bin Laden in front of the White House on the evening of May 1 were mostly the youth, while the older generation just silently stood aside. One person from the older generation said they did not think it was morally appropriate to celebrate a person's death and was deeply aware that the war is far from coming to an end. In terms of the sources of terrorism, the current U.S. administration likes to stress the intrinsic factors instead of mentioning their relevance to the diplomatic policies adopted by the United States.

By People's Daily Online
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