ALTERNATIVE READER 146
U.S. Elite Project Proposes Bipartisan
Instead of a "global
war on terror", Washington should employ a "global counterinsurgency"
strategy that focuses on global law enforcement, intelligence, and special
By Jim Lobe
International Press Service (IPS)
Sept. 27, 2006
Posted by Bulatlat
WASHINGTON - After two years of consultations with more
than 400 members of the U.S. foreign policy elite, a project headed by two
leading international relations academics is calling for the adoption of a
new U.S. grand strategy designed to address multiple threats and
strengthen Washington's commitment to a reformed and reinvigorated
In a wide-ranging report released here Wednesday, the Princeton Project on
National Security suggested that the post-9/11 policies pursued by
President George W. Bush have been too simplistic - even
counter-productive - for the challenges facing the U.S. in the 21st
To be effective, according to the report, U.S. policy needs to rely less
on military power and more on other tools of diplomacy; less on its own
strength exercised unilaterally and more on cooperation with other
democratic states; and less on rapid democratisation based on popular
elections and more on building what it called "popular, accountable,
rights-regarding (PAR) governments".
The report also calls for performing
"radical surgery" on the international institutions created in the
aftermath of the World War II, including significantly increasing
membership in the U.N. Security Council and developing a "Concert of
Democracies" that would provide an alternative forum for collective
action, including the use of force.
On more specific issues, it calls for Washington to "take the lead in
doing everything possible" to achieve a comprehensive two-state solution
to the Israel-Palestine conflict; to offer Iran security assurances in
exchange for its agreement not to develop a nuclear-weapons capacity; and to neither "block or contain"
China, but rather to "help it achieve its legitimate ambitions within the
current international order."
The Project and its 90-page report, "Forging a World of Liberty Under Law:
U.S. National Security in the 21st Century," was co-directed by the head
of Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and
International Affairs, Anne-Marie Slaughter, and John Ikenberry, a
prominent international relations scholar at the school.
Of greater significance, however, was the high-level and bipartisan cast
of its participants. Honorary co-chairs of the project included George
Shultz, who served as secretary of state under former President Ronald
Reagan and is considered particularly influential with the current
secretary, Condoleezza Rice, and Anthony Lake, national security adviser
under former President Bill Clinton.
The Project's 13 steering committee members and seven task forces that
addressed different aspects of national security were also drawn from
experts from or identified with both major parties, while institutional
co-sponsors included the major centrist think tanks ranging from the
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Brookings Institution
on the left to the Hoover Institution on the right.
In that respect, the report appeared to be an effort to forge a consensus
framework for the mainly Republican, "realist" and mainly Democratic
"liberal internationalist" schools that dominated U.S. foreign
policy-making in the post-World War II era until the 9/11 attacks when
nationalist and neo-conservative hawks in the Bush administration launched
their "global war on terror".
Thus, at the report's official Capitol Hill launch, sponsored by the
"radical centrist" New America Foundation, the two keynote speakers were
high-level political symbols of both schools - Republican
realist Sen. Chuck Hagel and Democratic internationalist Sen. Joseph Biden
-- both sharp critics of the administration's conduct of the "war on
terror," in particular.
Indeed, conspicuously missing among the institutional sponsors of the
Project were two key think tanks -- the neo-conservative American
Enterprise and the right-wing Heritage Foundation -- that have been most
closely associated with the administration's more radical policies,
including its 2002 National Security Strategy, as well as the invasion of
A few prominent neo-conservatives and aggressive nationalists, such as
Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol and Washington Post columnist Charles
Krauthammer, were among the individuals who participated in the Project's
While Slaughter stressed that the final report and recommendations did not
represent a formal consensus of all participants or even necessarily of
the two honorary co-chairs, she told IPS that "there was agreement across
the political spectrum on a comprehensive approach." Most participants,
she said, would agree with most of the analysis and recommendations.
Three specific aims -- securing the homeland against hostile attacks or
fatal epidemics; building a healthy global economy, and promoting a
"benign international environment, grounded in security cooperation among
nations and the spread of liberal democracy -- should constitute
Washington's basic objectives, according to the report.
To achieve those objectives, the report offers a number of general and
specific recommendations, many of which contain implicit criticisms of the
Bush administration. It calls, for example, for "fusing hard power - the
power to coerce - and soft power - the power to attract; and for "building
frameworks of cooperation centred on common interests with other nations
rather than insisting that they accept our prioritisation of common
While it applauds Bush's advocacy of democratisation in principle, the
report calls for greater efforts to bring non-democratic governments "up
to PAR" -- that is, "a much more sophisticated strategy of creating the
deeper conditions for successful liberal democracy -preconditions that
extend far beyond the simple holding of elections."
Similarly, with respect to military power and the use of force, "(i)nstead
of insisting on a doctrine of primacy, the United States should aim to
sustain the military predominance of liberal democracies and encourage the
development of military capabilities of like-minded democracies in a way
that is consistent with their security interests."
While endorsing Bush's position that "preventive strikes represent a
necessary tool in fighting terror networks... they should be proportionate
and based on intelligence that adheres to strict standards." Similarly,
the preventive use of force against states"should be very rare, employed
only as a last resort and authorised by a multilateral institution --
preferably a reformed Security Council..."
In addition to calling for greater U.S. effort and balance in promoting an
Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement and for offering security guarantees
to Iran, the report urges Washington to reduce its ambitions in Iraq from
full democratisation to PAR, to redeploy U.S. troops in ways that would
encourage Iraqis to take more responsibility, and, in the event of civil
war, to contain its regional impact. At the same time, Washington should
promote the construction of regional institutions modeled on the
Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The report also assails administration efforts at "framing the struggle
against terrorism as a war similar to World War II or the Cold War"
because "it lends legitimacy and respect to an enemy that deserves
neither; the result is to strengthen, not degrade our adversary." Instead of a "global war on terror", Washington
should employ a "global counterinsurgency" strategy that focuses on global
law enforcement, intelligence, and special operations.
To combat radicalisation in the Islamic world, Washington should also make
clear that it is willing to work with "Islamic governments and
Islamic/Islamist movements, including fundamentalists, as long as they
"It is time to unite our country and our allies, while dividing our
enemies -- rather than the other way around," said Ikenberry.
On energy, the project called for going much further than the
administration has proposed to reduce U.S. reliance on Middle East oil by
adopting a tax on gasoline that would begin at 50 cents per gallon and
increase by 20 cents per year for each of the next years. It also
called for stricter automobile
fuel-efficiency standards and for U.S. leadership in devising new ways to
reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
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