Commentary: US-Led Like-Minded Coalition Unable to Win Anti-Terror War

Photo: Chinese and Pakistani soldiers in joint anti-terrorism training

Xinhua, New China News Agency
Feb 18, 2015

BEIJING, Feb. 18 — U.S. President Barack Obama is set to host the "Summit on Countering Violent Extremism" in Washington on Wednesday in an attempt to address the aggravating terrorist violence across the world.

This summit will be attended by security experts and government officials from member countries of the U.S.-led anti-terrorism coalition against the backdrop of recent terrorist attacks in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, the United States has actively spearheaded the international fight against terrorism.

In the name of counter-terrorism, the George W. Bush administration launched two successive wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which, instead of stemming terrorism, have bred waves of terrorist activities and violence that have claimed tens of thousands of innocent lives.

Over the past 13 years, terrorist activities continue to rise worldwide. The Islamic State (IS) and other emerging terrorist groups pose new challenges to the global fight against terrorism, and their birth was partly related to the U.S. Middle East policy.

Last year, on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Obama set out his strategy to unite with other countries for military actions against the IS in a televised address to the American public.

"America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat," Obama declared. "Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy IS through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy."

Compared to Bush’s coalition, the "new anti-terror coalition" proposed by Obama appears to be more extensive, as it has to date involved more than 60 countries and regional organizations, some of which have taken an active part in the airstrikes against the IS.

But this coalition is not inclusive enough as Russia, Iran, Syria and other countries, which are capable of contributing to the fight against the IS, are excluded.  (Continued)

Washington has limited the membership of the anti-terrorism coalition and alienated countries it dislikes out of geopolitical and global strategic considerations. Whether U.S. "enemies" should become partners is one of the dilemmas facing the coalition.

Not unexpectedly, the terrorist threat to international security is still increasing despite the ongoing U.S. counter-terrorism operations. During the past five months, the U.S.-led anti-terrorism coalition failed to come up with a clear strategic plan against the IS and almost no country was willing to send ground troops other than providing humanitarian aid or carrying out airstrikes.

This has raised serious questions about the viability of Washington’s "international coalition", which looks rather like a patchwork of assorted countries with different interests.

The content-deficient slogan of a shared fight against terrorism, by which the countries are being tied to one another, is seen as being "no better than the trite ‘struggle for democracy’ label that has been fully discredited in the wake of the Arab Spring."

Terrorism is the common enemy of the world, and the like-minded U.S.-led coalition of allies cannot win the war against terrorism by itself. More stakeholders should be involved to jointly tackle the problem.

Meanwhile, the fight against terrorism is a long-term battle. The international community should work together to take multi-pronged measures in the political, security, economic, financial and information-sharing fields to remove the breeding ground of terrorism.