Diplomacy: The Key to Success in the Global War on TerrorismAmbassador Francis X. Taylor, Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security and Director, Office of Foreign Missions
Remarks to the Pacific Council of International Policys Annual Conference
Los Angeles, CA
November 13, 2004
Pictured: Assistant Secretary Francis X. Taylor, right, speaks with former Secretary of State Warren Christopher during the Pacific Council Seventh Annual Members Weekend.
Before I begin, I want to take a few minutes to tell you a little bit about the organization I lead, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Our mission is to provide a secure environment for the conduct of American diplomacy worldwide. We are the security and law enforcement arm of the State Department, with special agents in more than 157 countries, which makes us the most widely represented American law enforcement agency worldwide. The 32,000 men and women who work for DS are a "Global Force," and they play an important role in our nation’s counterterrorism and homeland security efforts.
Members of this global force are seasoned diplomats as well as security professionals, and are comfortable operating in both arenas. They have forged valuable relationships with foreign police and security services in virtually every country in the world. Working closely with our international partners, we have successfully identified, arrested, and prosecuted potential terrorists before they reached American shores.
We vigorously investigate passport and visa fraud globally—felonies that are often committed in connection with other serious crimes, such as international terrorism. These investigations have become increasingly important since the September 11 attacks, and help secure American borders from the threat of terrorism.
We train foreign police and security officers from friendly countries how to fight terrorism effectively within their own borders, before it reaches the United States, as well as protect Americans during times of crisis.
Diplomatic Security assists the American private sector with security issues overseas by sharing information on crime and terrorism, as well as the political and economic atmospherics that impact on the security environment in a particular country or geographic region.
We protect Secretary of State Colin Powell, cabinet-level foreign dignitaries who visit the United States, and foreign embassies and consulates in our country.
DS also provides the first line of defense for American diplomats overseas. We develop strong and innovative security programs to prevent terrorist, criminal and technical attacks, so that our diplomats can carry out the President’s foreign policy agenda safely and securely, as well as lay the groundwork for America to fight the global war on terrorism.
Without question, the terrorist attacks of September 11 changed our lives and our nation forever. Nearly 3,000 Americans and citizens from over 80 other countries died that day that ranks as the single bloodiest day in our nation’s history since the Civil War.
In a speech to a joint session of Congress 8 days after the attacks, the President stated that the global war on terrorism would be the most unconventional war we have ever fought for three reasons. First, there was no clear battlefield—our enemy is faceless, does not wear a uniform and is not tied to the geographic boundaries of a particular country. Second, the United States would have to unite its military, law enforcement, intelligence, diplomatic, and economic capabilities in a global effort to defeat terrorism. Lastly, the President emphasized that terrorism was a global problem that required a global solution.
The State Department has played a crucial role in America’s efforts in the global war on terrorism since Day One. In my opinion, diplomacy has been the key to our success over the past 3 years. Secretary Powell has stated on many occasions that American diplomats serve on the front lines in the war on terrorism, building and maintaining the will, support, and mechanisms that enable our military, law enforcement, and intelligence communities to operate effectively on a global scale.
Through diplomacy, we have built a formidable coalition—84 nations strong—all focused on the common goal of eradicating the global threat of terrorism. Pakistan is a prime example of the success of our diplomatic efforts.
I was in the room with Deputy Secretary Armitage when he spoke to the head of Pakistan's ISI right after 9/11, inviting Pakistan to join our efforts in the war on terror. Within 72 hours, Pakistan went from a supporter of the Taliban to an enemy of the Taliban. President Musharraf came forward with an offer to support our military efforts in Afghanistan. We, in turn, provided financial, military, and technical assistance to raise their capabilities to the point where they contributed significantly to the fight against terrorism in Pakistan. Today, Pakistan is one of our most important allies in the war on terrorism.
Such international partnerships fueled our success in the global war on terrorism. We have formed a global dragnet that has tightened around Al-Qaida. More than 75 percent of Al-Qaida’s senior leadership and more than 3,400 lower-level Al-Qaida operatives or associates have been killed or captured. This is a direct result of cooperation between law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Terrorist cells have been eliminated from Singapore to Italy to Saudi Arabia, as well as here in the United States.
Money is oxygen to terrorists. We have waged a vigorous attack to suffocate Al-Qaida’s finances. Working with our international partners, we have seized or frozen more than $210 million in terrorism-related assets in 173 countries worldwide since September 11. Over 80 countries have introduced new terrorist-related legislation, and 94 have established Financial Intelligence Units to block money laundering and the misuse of charities in support of terrorists.
We have also worked with the international community to raise global law enforcement and security standards, and have provided many countries with the training and assistance necessary to support and expand their own counterterrorism efforts.
We have made steady progress in the global war on terrorism, and despite the October 29 videotape message from Usama bin Laden, Al-Qaida, as we knew it pre-9/11, no longer exists. Let me be clear—Al-Qaida has cells around the world, has many allies, and poses a continuing threat to our national security, but it is not the same formidable organization it once was.
I have been asked to lead a discussion today on the global war on terrorism, and I have several points to make in the next few minutes that should generate a spirited dialogue. In my view, the threat today has grown beyond Al-Qaida. Over the past 24 months, I have seen three critical shifts in this war I believe will challenge the United States and our international allies for years to come.
In my opinion, the first change, and the real threat that America faces today, comes from the phenomenon of Islamic extremism—the nihilistic view that one has to impose a 14th century political structure over the people of the Islamic world to defend them against the people of the West. This philosophy is being spread in mosques, Islamic schools, and madrases around the world.
Just after 9/11, CNN filmed a documentary in the northwest frontier province of Pakistan. In that piece, CNN interviewed an 8-year-old boy who spent almost 3 years in a madras studying the Koran and other religious subjects. My blood ran cold when I heard the boy, who had never been out of the northwest frontier province and had never met an American, say that he wanted to grow up and do jihad against Americans.
He had been taught this hate, and that it was his personal responsibility to defend his faith by harming Americans. This is happening in hundreds of places around the world. Our success against Al-Qaida has brought on a new group of people that I believe will take years to eradicate. This philosophy is almost like communism or fascism or totalitarianism in that it becomes its own kind of body politic that we have to address in ways other than through military force.
The second change in the war on terror is the shift to soft targets, and America’s challenge to protect them. As we have hardened our embassies, military bases and our borders, terrorists have turned to symbolic, economic, or capitalist targets that represent America or the West—targets that are guaranteed to bring many fatalities and intimidate the population. The Bali nightclub bombing heralded this new targeting mindset. The attacks on J.W. Marriott in Jakarta, the HSB Bank and British consulate in Istanbul, the trains in Madrid, and the Hilton Hotel in Taba, clearly illustrate that the United States cannot defend the entire world, and must rely on our friends and allies for assistance.
The third change that we have seen is the phenomenon of global linkages through technology. Fax machines, the Internet, cell phones, and modern technology have enhanced our ability to communicate globally. Terrorists are using this same technology to plan and coordinate their attacks effectively. The 9/11 hijackers used technology to pinpoint the exact coordinates of the World Trade Center, enter the data into the cockpit data recorder, and steer that plane unerringly into the side of the building.
Technology is allowing Al-Qaida to proselytize its message far and wide across the Internet, to reach people who have never been to Afghanistan or Iraq. Technology and the information age are creating global linkages, allowing Al-Qaida and other Islamic extremists to connect with other terrorist organizations such as the Jemaah Islamya (JI) in Southeast Asia, the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) in Spain, and the Unification and Jihad Group, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and franchise their ideas.
These changes are clearly significant and will clearly challenge us for years to come. The key to our future success in the global war on terrorism ultimately depends on sustaining and enhancing the political will of our global partners to fight terrorism. The secret of maintaining this coalition is demonstrating each and every day to its members that the fight is not over, and that sustained effort is clearly in their long-term interests. During my career at the State Department, I have met with dozens of foreign leaders and government officials in every region of the world. I am convinced that the coalition in the global war on terrorism remains solid in its resolve to do whatever it takes to eliminate the terrorist threat.
We also must continue to use every available public diplomacy avenue to aggressively counter distorted views of the United States overseas, to emphasize that the war on terrorism is not a war against Islam, and to underscore that terrorists are not martyrs but cowards and criminals. Through media such as Radio Sawa, a U.S. International Broadcasting network publicly funded by Congress, we can send our message effectively to Arabic youth throughout the Middle East by providing accurate and timely news about the region, the world, and the United States. By educating this generation early through a medium that they can understand and relate to, we significantly increase the chances of bringing peace and stability to this troubled region, and perhaps eliminate a future generation of terrorists as well.
But perhaps most importantly, the United States will continue its humanitarian assistance to those nations that are weak, but willing, to diminish the underlying conditions that allow terrorism to take root and flourish. Poverty and oppression are not causes of terrorism. Nor are ethnic strife and disputes between countries. But poverty, oppression, ethnic strife and regional instability all breed the kinds of grievances that extremists can exploit for their nefarious ends.
We are committed to attacking these problems wherever we find them. We will work with these nations to remove the causes of terrorism, to remove the hopelessness and the poverty and the despair in the lives of these individuals who might be inclined, without hope, without promise, to move in this direction.
Over the past 4 years, the President has doubled the amount of money available to USAID for development assistance around the world. We have created the Millennium Challenge Account, one of the most innovative programs for development and poverty alleviation since the Marshall Plan. The Congress gave us a billion dollars to start, and we have asked for an additional $2.5 billion this fiscal year, and then another $5 billion a year beginning in 2006.
Which countries will get this money? Developing countries that have made a commitment to democracy, the rule of law, the end of corruption, the dignity of the individual, and human rights. We stand ready to help these countries with education and infrastructure development. We will assist these countries to develop the means to attract trade and investment, and not just standing by to receive aid.
The United States has concluded 12 free trade agreements with nations around the world, and 10 more are on the way. We are also working on regional free trade agreements, as well as with the World Trade Organization to liberalize trade. Why? Trade brings wealth to nations in need of development.
The President also has recognized that HIV/AIDS is truly the greatest weapon of mass destruction in the world today. The United States helped the United Nations establish the Global Health Fund, and has contributed $623 million so far, with an additional $1.3 billion on contributions by 2008. The President has also asked for $2.8 billion in the FY 2005 budget to combat HIV/AIDS globally.
The United States is pursuing a broad strategy to advance human rights and democracy globally. Regimes that violate the human rights of their own citizens are more likely to disrupt peace and security in their region and to create a reservoir of ill will on which extremists and terrorists thrive. The best guarantor of security and prosperity at home and abroad is respect for individual liberty and protection of human rights through good governance and the rule of law.
On every continent, we are making important, long-term investments in democracy. We are helping to build democratic institutions. We are working with nongovernmental organizations, faith-based groups, opposition parties, minority communities, women’s organizations, and labor movements to develop dynamic societies. We are promoting good governance to create conditions for economic growth and sustainable development. We are helping to free the flow of information and to ensure free and fair elections. Through our exchange and other programs, we are acquainting rising generations with democratic ideas and processes.
A world where fundamental freedoms are respected and citizens can elect accountable, representative governments is a world of hope and opportunity, where conflict and chaos cannot rage and tyranny and terrorism cannot thrive.
The United States is actively promoting the freedom of religion and conscience globally, for we strongly believe that this foundational American value and universal principle lies at the heart of a just and free society. The right to religious freedom is also a cornerstone of democracy, and a vital measure in the creation and maintenance of a stable political system. Conversely, the failure to protect freedom of religion can undermine social order, foster extremism, and lead to instability and violence.
In my view, all of these elements—fighting poverty, encouraging trade, promoting democracy, human rights, and religious freedom, public diplomacy, dealing with enemies as we find them—are critical to the creation of a national security policy that is relevant to today’s world.
The global war on terrorism has many fronts and many different types of success. This is a war where tracking complex financial transactions can have more impact on our enemy than an artillery barrage. This is a war where effective diplomacy and police work could thwart terrorist attacks more effectively and at less cost than a precision air strike. This is a war where diligent collection and sharing of intelligence can produce results as far-reaching as a major military operation.
Diplomacy will continue to serve as the backbone of our counterterrorism efforts. Through bilateral relations, alliances, and multilateral institutions, we will continue to multiply the strength of free and democratic nations against this threat. Diplomacy makes it possible for us to use all the other instruments—military power, law enforcement, intelligence, and economic—effectively.
Our success in the global war on terrorism has been impressive, and there is no question that America is safer than we were 3 years ago. However, we are years from declaring total victory.
I shall now turn to our moderator, Jane Wales, to lead our discussion.