Tuesday, June 13, 2006

'War on Terror' Failing, and Distracting Politicians from the Genuine Threats to Global Security

OXFORD, England - June 13 -

* Major new study deeply critical of UK and US policies in the 'war on terror', finding that they make the risk of future terrorist attacks on the scale of New York, Madrid or London more likely, not less likely.
* One of Britain's leading independent think tanks concludes that the current focus on international terrorism is distracting politicians from more fundamental threats to global security, causing their responses to those threats to be wholly inadequate.
* Report receives worldwide attention and gains support from major international figures in the political, military and NGO world.

The 'war on terror' is a dangerous diversion and prevents the international community from responding effectively to the most likely causes of future conflict, according to a new report, Global Responses to Global Threats: Sustainable Security for the 21st Century, published 12 June 2006.

The result of an 18-month long study by Oxford Research Group, one of Britain's leading independent think tanks, the authors argue that the genuine threats to peace and the likely causes of future conflict are:

* climate change,
* competition over resources,
* socio-economic marginalisation, and
* global militarisation.

These are the trends that are likely to lead to substantial global and regional instability and large-scale loss of life of a magnitude unmatched by other potential threats, including terrorism.

They are far more important than the current focus on the 'war on terror'. This deeply flawed strategy is consuming hundreds of billions of dollars, creating more recruits and supporters of terrorism than it defeats, and is diverting attention from threats to security that are far more serious, lasting and destructive than that of international terrorism.

Furthermore, the current response to insecurity is essentially about "control" - attempting to maintain the status quo through military force, without addressing the root causes. The authors argue that such security policies are self-defeating in the long-term, and so a new approach is urgently needed.

An alternative "sustainable security" approach aims to address the root causes of those threats, cooperatively using the most effective means available. For example:

* renewable energy and conservation as the most important response to climate change;
* energy efficiency as a response to resource competition;
* intensive poverty reduction programmes as a means to address marginalisation; and
* the halting and reversal of WMD development and proliferation as a main component of checking global militarisation.

These provide the best chance of averting global disaster, as well as addressing some of the root causes of terrorism.

According to Oxford Research Group, it will be essential to encourage governments, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom, to rethink their current security outlook, with the next five years being the key period for change if we are to avoid a highly unstable global system by the middle years of the century.

Even though both governments look very set in their ways and repeatedly claim "there is no alternative", there is abundant evidence that the 'war on terror' is proving deeply counterproductive - making the risk of future terrorist attacks on the scale of New York, Madrid or London more likely, not less likely.

The Iraq war is now into its fourth year and the conflict in Afghanistan moves into its sixth year in October, yet both countries are increasingly unstable and violent while the al-Qaida movement is as active as ever. In such circumstances, the authors of the report believe there is now real opportunity for an intensive debate leading to a realistic chance of changes in policy.

Commenting on the publication of the report, former UK Secretary of State for International Development, Clare Short MP, said:

"Current US and UK foreign policy is totally counterproductive and is encouraging terrorism and proliferation of WMD. This report offers a serious alternative which would make the world safer. I hope it is widely read."

The Liberal Democrat spokesperson on defence in the House of Lords, Air Marshal the Lord Garden, added:

"This report takes a measured look at the challenges that the planet faces in the coming years, and offers a coherent strategy to make the world a safer place. If we are to reverse the deepening crisis, a global approach to security in all it aspects is needed. The authors offer a compelling starting point."


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