Bernard Finel makes a number of good pointsover at the New Atlanticist about the Bush administration’s successfulcounterterrorism policies that nonetheless do not reduce terrorism. Inparticular, he argues that the emphasis on state sponsorship of terrorgroups tends to equate the agendas of the various actors, ignoring howstates that do fund or train terror groups usually do so for pragmaticrather than ideological reasons, often to find the groups they’vesponsored ultimately escaping their control.
Finel argues thatwe should instead concentrate on the spaces beyond states’ control thatare exploited by terrorist groups as operational bases:
I’dadd “ability to act” to that last sentence, but the point is welltaken. Obviously, this kind of approach was precluded by the Bushadministration’s unilateralist impulse, but it’s worth revisiting now.The previous emphasis on individual state responsibility might evenwind up encouraging nations to submit to an international protocol forungoverned spaces as a way of getting off the hook for what’s going onin territory that’s only nominally their own.
Of course, thisis a good idea certain to meet stiff resistance from countries likeChina and India who have historically defended national sovereigntyover international “right to intervene” agendas. But so long as theprotocol included strong sovereignty protections on both the entry andexit strategies, it would be a way of collectivizing a global problemthat for the time being we’re shouldering in often fruitless bilateralefforts.