Foreign Policy Blogging at OTB

I’ve just published a foreign policy-related post at Outside the Beltway:

War on Terror Status Report

Walter Russell Mead presents a sitrep on the War on Terror at The Wall Street Journal. He warns of continuing risk but in my view he’s actually too sanguine. In paraphrase of what he says in his op-ed, the terrain of the War on Terror has always favored our enemies. That’s what Fourth Generation Warfare is about. Due to confused priorities we have largely avoided fighting on terrain that’s more favorable to us.

The “drone war” in which we’re now engaged and which, apparently, we’re expanding into North Africa does capitalize on our strengths but for how long? In addition I remain unconvinced that it is not counter-productive.

7 comments… add one
  • jan

    I would agree that our war on terror policies have mostly been a ‘series of missteps,’ in both the Bush and Obama administrations. Whatever the state or capacities of Al Qaeda, IMO, is not that important, as terror franchises have sprung up in other places all over the world, especially in Africa. Then we have the ongoing problems with Iran and N. Korea ginning up their own nuclear capabilities.

    We are in serious times. Just go to Drudge for a synopsis of what is shaking down:

    ‘Challenging moment with great risks’…
    Obama ‘not bluffing’ over military threat…
    Netanyahu: ‘Red line’…
    Kissinger: Nuke crisis close…
    Clock Runs…

    Anecdotally, my husband went to a housing industry meeting last night. Although most of the discussions were based on the looming idiotic policies churning around in our democratic super majority CA legislature, a real estate attorney also warned the group that there were serious global issues that would be impacting us. Included in his admonitions was a dire warning about Iran, and that in accessing a nuclear weapon NYC would be their first target. I don’t know where he is obtaining his info, but this guy is someone we’ve known for years, smart and never overly worried about life. Last night he was dead serious.

  • TastyBits


    I would suggest that most people who posit scenarios about nuclear bombs have little knowledge of the actual workings. The smaller the bomb, the shorter the shelf life. A “suitcase” would be worthless in about 6 months. A larger bomb becomes difficult to avoid detection. Assembling the parts on location is easier said than done.

    If it were as simple as many imagine, India or Pakistan would have gone off long ago.

    Also, there is a wide gulf between what works and what does not. One reason for the number of nuclear weapons needed by the USA & USSR/Rusia is the dud factor.

  • Ports are really at the greatest risk from a terrorist-delivered nuclear weapon. Bringing ’em in by ship is probably the most practical approach.

    That brings me back to the “critical success factor” observation I’ve made before. Why isn’t our port security better? I think it’s because it would be inconvenient.

  • jan


    You’re right about longevity and implementation being the keys. However, the red flags are waving all over the place — how many of them have any legitimacy, is hard to tell.

  • Icepick

    Ports are really at the greatest risk from a terrorist-delivered nuclear weapon. Bringing ‘em in by ship is probably the most practical approach.

    Airliners would be much easier and more portable. If you’re not inspecting the airplane BEFORE IT TAKES OFF you don’t really have any idea what it’s carrying.

  • TastyBits

    A terrorist with nuclear weapons is highly unlikely. Any country that would be likely to give a terrorist a nuclear weapon will know the danger. Terrorists are as likely to turn on the host. The Arab Spring would have been the Arab Nuclear Winter.

  • Andy

    Port security to guard against ship-borne nuclear weapons isn’t really possible. Like most anything else, a layered defense works best and it’s a lot better in all kinds of ways to prevent a nuke from ever getting on a ship in the first place.

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