Third Way Joins Senate Leaders to Release Anti-Terror Strategy
Washington, DC: At a press conference in the Capitol today, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL), along with Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Tom Carper (D-DE), joined Third Way in releasing the group’s new anti-terrorism strategy. Entitled Beyond Bush: A New Strategy of Constriction to Defeat Al Qaeda and its Allies, the Third Way report details how the threat of al Qaeda is actually increasing, examines how and why the Bush terrorism strategy has failed, and offers a new approach to the terrorism fight that focuses on choking off al Qaeda’s real and virtual “supply lines.”
Sharon Burke, Director of Third Way’s National Security Project and a report co-author who spoke at the press conference, said: “It’s been five years since President Bush promised that he would act to ‘rid the world of evil,’ and the Vice President has all but declared victory in the terror war. But the threat from al Qaeda isn’t gone, it’s growing. And in part that’s because this Administration brought a 20th century mindset to a 21st century problem.”
Part One of the report examines the current threat to the US and our allies and notes that al Qaeda has become a Hydra-headed monster that has spawned independent, localized and dangerous franchises. Its combination of high- and low-tech warfare and its decentralized, mobile and global reach has made confronting this enemy a quintessentially 21st century challenge.
In Part Two, the report offers a new critique of the conceptual errors in the Bush terror approach, making the case that it is a backward-looking strategy, rooted in 20th century thinking. The authors make three principal findings about the Bush strategy:
- A Domino Theory of Counterterrorism. Like the domino theory of the last century, the President believed that converting Iraq to democracy by force would knock over the first domino, which would then cause the rest of the Middle East to fall to democracy, thus eliminating the threat of terrorism. Instead, Iraq is increasingly looking like a failed state, destabilizing the region and creating a more hospitable climate for al Qaeda and its allies.
- Fighting State-on-State Warfare Instead of a Global Counterinsurgency. By using 20th century, conventional tactics—sending tanks across the desert into Iraq—the Bush Administration has not only failed to defeat al Qaeda, it has raised the group’s stature, allowing it to attract new recruits.
- Binary Balance of Power. President Bush’s “us vs. them” rhetoric, based on a 20th century notion of a two-sided struggle, has forced the world to take sides. That uncompromising and unnecessary division has made it harder to enlist global help, which is essential to stopping the growth of al Qaeda.
In Part Three, the report offers the strategy of constriction, which is designed to destroy al Qaeda’s ability to function by choking off its supply lines. The authors focus on shutting down what they dub “the three P’s”—al Qaeda’s physical resources, propaganda and people—through a concerted campaign of America’s civilian, military and allied forces. To make this strategy work, the report lays out a series of recommendations to remodel America’s civilian and military institutions, rebuild its anti-terror alliances and restructure its ability to wage political warfare.
The report’s co-author, Third Way Vice President Matt Bennett, noted: “What we need now is a coherent and constructive strategy for fighting the first war of the 21st century. That battle must meet the threats of today and fight them effectively. Constriction does that; the Bush approach does not.”’
Senator Durbin is Assistant Majority Leader. Senator Bayh is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Senate Carper is a member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, and he chairs the Subcommittee on International Security.
Contact: Matt Bennett (202) 775-3768 x212