by Joerg in Berlin
Sun Sep 17th, 2006 at 05:01:39 AM EST
Germany's former Foreign Minister Fischer started teaching at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School. The cause of the 9/11 attacks was not U.S. foreign policy, but the lack of modernisation in the Arab world, he explained at a discussion to mark the fifth anniversary of 9/11. Prof. Fischer, however, is concerned that U.S. mistakes increase the conflicts. His candid advice according to the German Der Tagesspiegel was: "To defeat the beast, don't feed the beast."
He said more or less the same, but less outspoken in the NYT, as Dialog International reports.
***Back to diaries
"Stop blaming America for terrorism," says Washington Post columnist and Pulitzer Price winning author Anne Applebaum in a British Telegraph op-ed that was widely quoted in the American blogosphere yesterday. She criticizes that many Europeans started blaming the United States already right after 9/11:
While not entirely incorrect, the notion that President Bush has wasted international post-9/11 sympathy is not entirely accurate either. As I say, at the time of the attacks, influential Europeans, and influential Britons, were already disinclined for their own reasons to sympathise with any American tragedy. Instead of pointing fingers, the fifth anniversary of 9/11 might be a good time to reverse course. If "war on terrorism" has become an unpopular term, then call it something else. Call it a "war on fanaticism". Or – as we used to say in the Cold War – call it a "struggle for hearts and minds" in the Islamic communities of Europe and the Middle East. For whatever it's called, it won't succeed without both American and European support, without American and European mutual sympathy.
I don't think the term "war on terrorism" is a significant problem that stands in the way of more cooperation, but rather it is the strategies and policies and their implementation that matter. Besides, what is often ignored is that American and European intelligence and law enforcement agencies have increased their cooperation significantly and successfully.
Doyle McManus discusses in The Los Angeles Times
, whether the U.S. is winning this war:
In a series of recent speeches to mark the anniversary of the attacks, Bush has declared: "America is winning the war on terror" and cited a list of achievements: "We've removed terrorist sanctuaries, disrupted their finances, killed and captured key operatives, broken up terrorist cells in America and other nations, and stopped new attacks before they're carried out." But terrorism experts worry that those successes have been mostly tactical, short-term gains -- the equivalent of winning the first few battles in a long war. On longer-term strategic issues, they warn, the U.S. may have lost ground since 2001:
• Al Qaeda, the initial focus of the "global war on terror," has been disrupted and dispersed. But it has been succeeded by a looser network of affiliates and homegrown terrorists -- like those who carried out bombings in Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005 -- who could grow to be just as dangerous.
• The war in Iraq has become a training ground for Islamic extremists from Saudi Arabia and other countries, and some have returned home with expertise in urban warfare and explosives. Some experts fear the Persian Gulf's oil terminals could be among their next targets.
• Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon have damaged the image of the U.S. in much of the Muslim world and made it easier for terrorist organizations to win recruits. The wars and controversies over U.S. treatment of detainees also have made it more difficult for allied governments to cooperate with American counterterrorism programs, diplomats say.
• When Foreign Policy magazine surveyed more than 100 experts earlier this year, 84% said they did not believe the United States was winning the war on terrorism. In a Los Angeles Times poll, fewer than one-fourth of Americans said they believed the nation was "winning"; more than half said it was too soon to tell.
And he quotes McCain on President Bush and Anti-Americanism:
"There is a certain amount of anti-Americanism which exists just because we're the world superpower," said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). "But in addition to that, deserved or undeservedly,the American image of hubris and condescension is damaging to our efforts. We should be more humble; we should be more considerate." Asked whether Bush had made that problem worse, McCain smiled. "I think sometimes the president's passion is interpreted as hubris…. [But] I think he fully recognizes that we have a problem, and I think he's working at trying to help improve America's image."
Reading Recommendation: Friendly Fire: Losing Friends and Making Enemies in the Anti-American Century
by Julia E. Sweig (Amazon.com
Anne Applebaum also writes in Der Tagesspiegel
about the upcoming anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution
and ends on this note:
And now? Once again, the United States, with some lukewarm European support, has embarked on a policy of democracy promotion in the Middle East: in Egypt, in Saudi Arabia, in Iran. Yet at the same time, America and Europe have clear economic interests in the stability of these regimes. Just as in 1956, it's far from clear that Western leaders have any intention of backing up their words with deeds. The Hungarian revolution took place sixty years ago – but for all the mourning that will take place during the anniversary this fall, it's not clear that its lessons have been learned.
Likewise, one could criticize the lukewarm American support for the EU's Euro-Mediterranean Partnership
, which promotes democratization and liberalisation already since 1995, but needs improvement like the US sponsored equivalent Broader Middle East initiative
Multi-Million Dollar Question: What is the best and practical and realistic way to defeat the beast?
Trying to starve it isn't enough. IMHO it would not get much weaker if we don't feed it for the next few years.
AUTHOR'S COMMENT: I am the guy, who used to go by the ETB name "Atlantic Review", which sounded awkward and was based on a stupid error at the signing up. Atlantic Review is the blog on transatlantic relations I run with two other German Fulbright Alumni.
This diary is cross-posted in The Atlantic Review
Click here to read the comments I received in the Atlantic Review.