John Edwards' Strategy for Combatting Terrorism

Here is John Edwards' strategy to root out and shut down terrorist cells, which I received from his campaign this morning. Click on the "more" button to read the whole thing.


“We need a bold new approach—one that is smart, tough, and targeted. This will require us to look beyond the structures of World War II and the Cold War to new tools that will allow us to target terrorism more precisely. It will require sustained U.S. leadership—but the kind that leverages the power of partnerships, rather than going it alone.”- John Edwards


President Bush’s record and his approach to terrorism have been disastrous for our relationships with other countries and have made America and the world a less safe place. As the recent National Intelligence Estimate showed, Al Qaeda has remained entrenched in Pakistan and the Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan. Terrorist cells are multiplying throughout Europe. And a recent study by the New York City Police Department demonstrated that even individuals in the U.S. are increasingly vulnerable to recruitment by radical extremists. [NYPD, 2007]

We must replace the so-called “war on terror” doctrine with a real strategy to unify our intelligence and security efforts through closer international cooperation. As president, John Edwards will enact a comprehensive strategy to ensure that intelligence is used to root out and shut down the scourge of terrorism and to unite the world against violent extremism. We must match 21st century threats with 21st century tactics and replace Cold War thinking, designed to defeat a single, implacable enemy, with new world thinking for a multi-national, diverse, and often hidden foe. Edwards will put in place a counter-terrorism strategy that is strong, fast, and hard enough to stop terrorists, but also smart, honest, and prescient enough to draw people away from terrorism in the first place.


John Edwards knows we must be prepared to respond militarily to terrorist threats in progress. But he believes we also must root out and shut down emerging terrorist threats. The synergy between intelligence and partner cooperation are central to this goal. America cannot root out and shut down terrorist cells alone. We face the threat of homegrown radical extremism here at home, and we and our allies are also under threat from cells abroad, whether located in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, or Europe. Repairing our strategic partnerships and strengthening cooperation between U.S. law enforcement and national security agencies and those of our friends and partners around the world is key to effective counterterrorism. As president, Edwards will:

Lead a new global compact against terrorists: Terrorist cells are multiplying throughout the world, both in friendly countries and in those with whom we have challenging relationships. The entire world community of nations has an interest in defeating terrorism and restoring legitimate government. As president, Edwards will create a new international institution: the Counterterrorism and Intelligence Treaty Organization (CITO). CITO will focus on high-level political and diplomatic engagement between a wide range of nation partners on all dimensions of the problem of terrorism, and operational programs like intelligence-sharing and cooperative security operations by partner nations. It will also allow the creation of a new international alliance of partner nations who clearly state that terrorism is unacceptable, and the identification and isolation of those nations who refuse to join this cause.

CITO’s national and multilateral partners will include partners in all continents, including Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe, who will cooperate on sharing and improving intelligence and security against terrorist cells, while respecting individual nations’ sovereignty and security interests.

• Going beyond institutions designed for an earlier age like NATO, the U.N. Security Council, and Interpol, while finding areas for progress, CITO will build on these institutions and meet today’s new threats by providing members with much more complete interconnection and sharing of intelligence, financial, police and customs and immigration data than currently exists, enabling member nations to track down terrorists nodes of support, travel, communication, recruiting, training and financing.

CITO will establish allied response cells comprised of security professionals from member nations to work on intelligence and security assessments and that can take action against imminent terrorist threats.

Improve human intelligence: The U.S. needs to be able to root out terrorist cells both here and in other countries using increased human intelligence capability, both to support American operations and to support the operations of our partners and allies. Here at home, Edwards will establish 1,000 new two-year $20,000 annual scholarships to improve language skills, through expanded programs for teaching Arabic and Middle Eastern dialects, of students who agree to go into careers in intelligence or diplomacy.

Bolster support for foreign counterterrorism: According to a recent GAO report, many U.S. agencies lack guidance on how to support counter-terrorism operations in other countries. There also are very few standards in place to judge the effectiveness of these support operations. Within six months of taking office, Edwards will direct the Secretary of State, working with the Attorney General and other national security officials, to launch comprehensive “Counter-Terrorism Support Strategies.” He will further professionalize our corps of ambassadors and place them in charge of the implementation of these Support Strategies, as well as the coordination of all efforts of law enforcement, intelligence, and civil and military programs with operations in their countries. [GAO, 2007]

Shut down WMD transfers: Any international transfer of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or unauthorized material that could be used to create WMDs is unacceptable. As president, Edwards will strengthen multilateral efforts such as the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and U.N.S.C. Resolution 1540 to improve cooperation to identify and interdict weapons of mass destruction being transferred from hostile nations to terrorist organizations, and the Comprehensive Threat Reduction program. He will also accelerate efforts to provide states-in-need with financial and technical assistance to safeguard their nuclear facilities and nuclear scientists, and well as to improve their border controls.

Escalate efforts against homegrown radical extremism: We must also work hard here at home to ensure that extremist ideologies do not take hold among in our own Muslim communities—and we must do so in a way that respects diversity and civil liberties and avoids practices like racial profiling against both Arabs and Muslims. We must encourage American Muslim participation in public life. As president, Edwards will work toward these goals with new resources to engage the American Muslim community, empower local mosques to counter extremist ideas, and work hand-in-hand with Muslim communities to identify and isolate threats before they materialize.

Make our domestic agencies as effective as possible: A recent report revealed that if our agencies had cooperated better before 9/11, the attacks could possibly have been prevented. We have recently taken some steps to correct the flawed system that failed to uncover the 9/11 attacks. But we must do more. As president, Edwards will hold the Director of National Intelligence accountable for taking concrete steps to integrate and transform our intelligence community. And Edwards will strengthen cooperation between federal, state and local agencies on domestic threats by creating a Deputy Director of National Intelligence responsible for coordinating information-sharing and joint operations between federal agencies and state and local law enforcement. [CIA OIG, 2007].

Achieve energy independence. Reducing our reliance on oil from instable parts of the world will force Middle Eastern regimes to diversify their economies and modernize their societies. Fighting global climate change will reduce global disruptions that could lead to tens of millions of refugees and create massive new breeding grounds for desperation and radicalism. As president, Edwards will lead an effort to achieve energy independence through creating a new energy economy fund, investing in renewable energy, transforming the auto industry through higher fuel economy standards and innovation, and opening the electricity grid to competition.


In addition to the steps above, John Edwards will take special measures to root out and shut down terrorist cells in particular regions and countries. These are case-by-case policies and heavily depend on current events. As commander-in-chief, he will:


 Increase Special Forces in the country. Perseverance and success in Afghanistan are essential for the continuing viability of the NATO alliance. As president, Edwards will work with our principal allies and the other members of NATO to ensure the commitment of adequate forces and rules of engagement robust enough to ensure their ability to defeat the Taliban and ensure continuing progress of the democratic government in Afghanistan. As part of this effort, President Edwards will commit additional American Special Forces to work against the emergence of Taliban cells in Afghanistan, which are increasingly challenging the legitimate government, as the recent kidnapping of South Korean missionaries demonstrated.


  • Work with the government to extend the state to the northwest provinces. The recent National Intelligence Estimate found that Al Qaeda has established a safe haven in the northwest provinces of Pakistan. We have given the Musharraf government billions of dollars of aid and it has done far too little to get control over these provinces. As president, Edwards will condition future American aid on progress by Pakistan, including strengthening the reach of police forces and working more effectively with tribal leaders and their members to ensure their acceptance of the government. However if we have actionable intelligence about imminent terrorist activity and the Pakistan government refuses to take care of the problem, Edwards believes the United States should.


  • Get over-the-horizon Quick Reaction Forces up to speed. Under the Edwards plan, combat troops should be withdrawn from Iraq within the next year. Even though the presence of U.S. troops has served as an attractive target for terrorists, our withdrawal will not remove the threat. As president, Edwards will deploy troops in Quick Reaction Forces in friendly countries including Kuwait, to perform targeted missions against Al Qaeda cells in Iraq.

Saudi Arabia

  • Require the Saudis to do more to stop the flow of terrorists to Iraq. As president, Edwards will condition future arms packages on Saudi Arabia’s actions against terrorists, and will deploy America’s extraordinary intelligence and military assets to work with Saudi Arabia on border enforcement and outreach measures to stop the flow of or support for radicals into Iraq.


  • Pressure Iran to stop supporting insurgents in Iraq. Iran is one of the most dangerous countries in the world, actively supporting terrorist and insurgent activity not only in Iraq but in other areas, such as Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. Our policy must aim to stamp out state-sponsored terrorism targeting Israel, our strongest ally in the region. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard will soon be deemed a terrorist organization by the U.S. As president, Edwards will ensure that such steps are not just more rhetoric, but actually lead to results. He will increase both diplomatic contact with the Iranian government and diplomatic pressure on the Revolutionary Guard to shut down its support of insurgent activity in Iraq and in other areas, such as Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. He will also work with multilateral partners to forge a coalition to apply diplomatic and economic pressure to stop Iran’s involvement in insurgent and terrorist activity in Iraq.


  • Pressure Damascus to abandon terrorism. We also must get Syria to stop any involvement in terrorism, both in Iraq and in Lebanon, and any actions targeting Israel. As president, Edwards will deploy the full range of our economic and political incentives and pressures to shift Damascus away from Hezbollah and toward the mainstream of the world.


  • Increase outreach to Muslim community. As the recent National Intelligence Estimate revealed, Al Qaeda is establishing cells throughout Europe. To an even greater degree than in the United States, a central danger in Europe is homegrown radicalization. As president, Edwards will ask CITO to support our European allies in these operations.

His speech accompanying the release of the strategy is available here.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Very Interesting. (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Mr Grohl on Fri Sep 07, 2007 at 07:25:11 PM EST
    Every Dem candidate has given us vague rhetoric about taking a "multi-lateral" approach to fighting terrorism, but until now there has been almost no explanation of what any candidate thinks a multi-lateral approach would look like. These are some very interesting proposals, and I think this is a very smart move by Edwards tactically as well. This is one effort by Edwards to frame the debate on an issue that may have some effect. Although I have not been an Edwards fan, I have been somewhat frustrated by the lack of solid foreign policy proposals by Democratic candidates. I'm liking what I'm hearing.

    that's a well thought out summary. (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by cpinva on Fri Sep 07, 2007 at 08:38:35 PM EST
    and if recent history is any indication, mr. edwards will be called "boring" by the msm, for having the audacity to actually think. he will be the new al gore (that's already started, witness the "$400 haircut" nonsense), and the pretty boys and girls of the hamptons will rake him over the coals.

    he needs to come up with a sound bite, and a rental pick-up truck first.

    In a major (none / 0) (#1)
    by tnthorpe on Fri Sep 07, 2007 at 02:05:28 PM EST
    address on terrorism I'd expect a mention of  the need for a resolution of the Israel/Palestine conflict and how American policy can help to bring that about.

    The sound bite about capturing Bin Laden might be a good applause line, but what policy is he articulating there? Is that a rationale for the invasion of Pakistan? Sure sounds like it: "But I want to be clear about one thing: if we have actionable intelligence about imminent terrorist activity and the Pakistan government refuses to act, we will."

    The following quote is stirring, but how does it play out vis-a-vis Egypt, for example? "Instead of an exclusively short-term focus on the enemy we know, we need a long-term strategy to win the minds of those who are not yet our enemies, by offering education, democracy, and opportunity in place of radicalism, hatred and fear." Its authoritarian state represses Islamic fundamentalists for the time being and democracy would almost certainly mean a  regime violently opposed to American interests. By opportunity does he mean more export-based World Bank-style projects or import substitution. " Expanded microfinance programs" may tend to the latter, while the former has tended to create vast disparities in wealth between an elite class and everyone else. Is debt forgiveness on this agenda?

    I like his move away from a Cold War model to an international police model, his multilateralism, his recognition of soft power, his recognition that patriotism comes in various forms, focus on energy independence, and I want to hear more about how CITO will work, especially how "Those nations who refuse to join will be called out before the world."