Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Security and International Relations in the 21st Century: United States' Continuum of Counterinsurgency: Anti-Communism to Anti-Terrorism

Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Security and International Relations in the 21st Century: United States' Continuum of Counterinsurgency: Anti-Communism to Anti-Terrorism

Article excerpt

Abstract

This article describes the perspective, context and meaning of the global war on terrorism though an examination of prior counterinsurgency efforts by the United States. To do so, this manuscript surveys the foundations of such efforts, deeply rooted in the traditions of United States foreign policy. To gain a perspective of the impact of contemporary policy, a brief survey of prior efforts is completed in order to better understand the continuity of United States foreign policy. Accordingly, this paper examines efforts to foster internal stability using civil police in concert with military operations as part of an overall counterinsurgency strategy dating to the administration of John F. Kennedy. In short, contemporary counterinsurgency efforts reflect the use of traditional methodology including technical assistance, humanitarian aid and the training of indigenous security forces.

Introduction

In the modern era, the role of a historian is not to direct policymakers how to formulate implement policy. Rather, the function of historical inquiry is to "try to make the past speak to the present in a meaningful way" giving "context, perspective, and meaning to what is occurring in the present." (1) To fully understand and assess the perspective, context and meaning of the contemporary war on terrorism, a survey of the foundations of such efforts, deeply rooted in the traditions of United States foreign policy is warranted.

The menace of the contemporary era is not, as was true of the Cold War Era, communism; it is terrorism. Though the face of the enemy has changed, contemporary methodology remains firmly rooted in the policy traditions of containment that dominated the Cold War Era (1945-1989). Indeed, when assessing the contemporary policy initiatives being used in the global war on terror, there "exists more continuity than change in the policies of the Bush administration." (2) Accordingly, my purpose is not to critique either contemporary or prior efforts, but to gain perspective of the impact of such policy through a brief survey of prior efforts in order to better understand the continuity of United States foreign policy. In particular, I will survey efforts to foster internal stability using civil police in concert with military operations as part of an overall counterinsurgency strategy dating to the administration of John F. Kennedy. As Frederick H. Gareau observed, such "a review of the Cold War period provides the opportunity to be forewarned of the pitfalls of such policy in waging the war on terrorism." (3)

The terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 acted as a catalyst that produced a resolute focus in the foreign and domestic policy of the administration of President George W. Bush that focused on thwarting terrorist encroachment both domestically and globally as part the "global war on terror." Accordingly, within days of the attacks on the United States, President Bush asserted the intent to launch a war on terror that would not end "until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated." (4)

By 2003, such efforts produced U.S. operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq to advance the war on terror. With the end of major combat operations in May 2003 coalition forces in Iraq initiated reconstruction efforts to stabilize a nation suffering the effects of more than a decade of sanctions imposed by the United Nations and the recent damage of military operations led by the United States. While coalition forces established internal security in post war Iraq, the Bush administration launched concurrent efforts to rebuild the infrastructure and economy and to provide immediate humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people. As part of the reconstruction of Iraq, the Agency for International Development, created by the administration of John F. Kennedy in 1961, disbursed financial assistance, equipment, and advisory personnel to U. …

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