US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recently signed a new
confidential anti-terror document. Judging from what's already
known, the US anti-terror strategy hasn't changed much, only for
the first time recognized the possible negative impacts of military
operations in this regard and asked for more understanding of local
culture and religion. This reflects the US embarrassment in its
More than 30 new al-Qaeda branches have appeared ever since the
"September 11", the Pentagon says. According to a recent report by
Swedish paper Svenska Dagbladet, the black list the US
distributed to its airport security staff for checking terror
suspects has lengthened from 16 names before the "September 11" to
today's 80,000, a stunning growth that fully testifies the "more
anti-terror, more terror" theory.
A review of the different versions of US anti-terror strategy
published shows nothing wise apart from the habitual reliance on
hi-tech weapons and military force. The significance of fighting
terrorism, however, seems lying in more on pressing forward the US
global strategy and in domestic political strife. In fact, the Bush
administration has not only put terror combat a long-term strategic
goal and arduous task, but cultivated it into so huge a political
capital as to create a subject called "anti-terror politics".
Terror fight has become a golden signboard or a "cloak" under
which the Bush administration seeks for strategic advantages
globally. It is obviously the top option to rally domestic support
and beat off international criticism whether for launching wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq, building new overseas military bases and
reshuffling global military deployment, or promoting US-style
democracy in other countries or even for handling the escalating
Iranian nuclear crisis.
Terror combat, for the Bush administration, is also the best
political "tonic" when it comes to party strife and public
A high approval rating is simply easy as long as one talks
glibly about terrorist dangers. This was brought into full play in
the presidential campaign at the end of 2004, when George W. Bush
won his second term by holding high the anti-terror banner and beat
back all kinds of attempts by the Democrats.
What's more, anti-terror efforts naturally served as a fig leaf
when the government was dogged by scandals including "fabricated
information" in launching the Iraqi war, the "leakage of CIA worker
identity", the "abuse of detainees", the "secret prisons on foreign
land" and the "eavesdropping" on international phone calls. Bush
claimed in early February that al-Qaeda once schemed in October
2001 to attack a building of Bank of America in Los Angeles, but
America successfully frustrated the plan.
Bush's dishing out of the terrorist attempt four years later,
some media analyzed, is simply out of two considerations. First, to
quash strong doubts stirred up by the "eavesdropping" scandal and
justify government behavior; second, to guide public opinion so as
to fish for political capital for his Republican Party at the
mid-term elections in this November.
What else would be left for the US, on top of embarrassment,
when the country has reduced its anti-terror strategy into a
"cloak", "tonic" and "fig leaf"?
This comment by Shao Feng, research fellow with the
Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of
Social Sciences, is carried on the third page of People's Daily,
Feb. 28, and translated by People's Daily Online.
(People's Daily Online March 1, 2006)