Thursday, May 31, 2012

Winning the LONG WAR, a book review

I’ve pulled from my professional reading list a book by James Jay Carafano and Paul Rosenzweig, published by the Heritage Foundation © 2005 entitled Winning the Long War, Lessons from the Cold War for Defeating Terrorism and Preserving Freedom.  I have to say it is an excellent guide to the problems we will face with the threats to stability from terrorist groups.
Its discussion and recommendations are based on the U.S. experiences and national approaches of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, a different but equally real threat to national security.  What I found most enlightening was discussion of a document I had not heard of until this book.  In the winter of 1946, George F. Keenan was an ambitious Foreign Service Officer in the Moscow Embassy.  The ambassador was back in the United States, and it fell to Mr. Keenan to answer daily queries from Washington on things like why the Soviets were unwilling to participate in new organizations like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.[i]  He wrote what was to become known as "The Long Telegram" that captured what would become the essence of a blue print on how America should deal with the Soviet Union on the world stage.
Mr. Kennan laid out the strengths and vulnerabilities of the Soviet society and his analysis on how to counter-balance those strengths to assure U.S. survival.  Messrs. Carafano and Rosenzweig believe the last 350 words of this missive hold the keys to U.S. success and survival on what will be a potential war without end against terrorists with an increasingly deadly capability at their finger tips.  I would like to take excerpts from Mr. Keenan’s telegram and with just one simple change show how relevant his thoughts are for today. 
“In summary, we have here a political force committed fanatically to the belief that with US there can be no permanent modus vivendi that is desirable and necessary that the international harmony of our society be disrupted, our traditional way of live be destroyed, the international authority of our state be broken, if Soviet [terrorist] power is to be secure.”
“(1) [Terrorist] power, unlike that of Hitlerite Germany, is neither schematic nor adventunstic.  It does not work by fixed plans… Impervious to logic of reason it is highly sensitive to logic of force…”
“(2) Gauged against Western World as a whole, [terrorists] are still by far the weaker force.  Thus, their success will really depend on degree of cohesion, firmness and vigor which Western World can muster.  And this is factor which is within our power to influence.
“(3) Success of [a terrorist] system, as a form of internal power [or global coordination] is not yet finally proven.  It has yet to be demonstrated that it can survive (the) supreme test of successive transfer of power from one individual or group to another”
“(4) All [terrorist] propaganda beyond [their] security sphere is basically negative and destructive.  It should be relatively easy to combat it by an intelligent and really constructive program”
Keenan concludes his telegram with five recommendations on how the U.S. must deal with the Communist threat.  Those recommendations remain as valid today as yesterday when confronting any group that seeks the destruction of a free society.
1)    We must recognize the threat for what it is, and study it with “courage, detachment, objectivity, and same determination not to be emotionally provoked or unseated by it, with which a doctor studies (an) unruly and reasonable individual.”
2)   The public must be educated and made aware of the realities that lead to terrorism.  “There is nothing as dangerous or as terrifying as the unknown.”
3)   The strength of our society in open debate and free trade is critical.  “[Terrorism] is like malignant parasite which feeds only on diseased tissue.”  “Every courageous and incisive measure to solve internal problems in our own society, to improve self-confidence, discipline, morale and community spirit in our own people, is a diplomatic victory…”
4)    “We must formulate and put forward for other nations a much more positive and constructive picture of (the) sort of world we would like to see than we have put forward in the past.”
5)   “Finally we must have courage and self-confidence to cling to our own methods and conceptions of human society.  After Al(sic), the greatest danger that can befall us in coping with this problem of [terrorism], is that we shall allow ourselves to become like those with whom we are coping."

[i] Carafano & Rosenzweig, Winning the Long War, Lessons from the Cold War for Defeating Terrorism and Preserving Freedom, Heritage Books, Washington, DC, 2005, p. 2

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