He knows poverty doesn’t cause terror. But that doesn’t stop him. “U.S. defense chief declines to say which side is winning the war on terror,” by Robert Burns for AP, with thanks to Kaosktrl:
SINGAPORE (AP) _ Declining to say whether the U.S. and its partners are winning the war on terror, Defense Secretary Robert Gates called Saturday for more focus on combating poverty and other underlying causes of extremism.
“I think we are still early in this contest,” Gates said in a question-and-answer session with attendees of a conference on Asian security, an annual gathering that took on an unusual dimension with the participation of a senior Chinese general who offered a pointed defense of his country’s military buildup….
A member of the audience later asked Gates whether he thought the United States is winning the terror war.
He cited areas of progress, including the elimination in late 2001 of Afghanistan as a haven for al-Qaida. But he also said the Islamic extremists have managed since then to expand their recruiting grounds.
“On the negative side of the ledger, I think we have not made enough progress in trying to address some of the root causes of terrorism in some of these societies, whether it is economic deprivation or despotism that leads to alienation,” he said.
He called for more “creative thinking” to address the root causes of Islamic extremism, but he added that even those efforts will not be the complete answer to winning what he called a long war on terrorism.
I think there has been too much “creative thinking” about root causes already, and too little realistic assessment of the evidence.
“One of the disturbing things about many of the terrorists that have been caught is that these are not ignorant, poor people,” he said. “These are educated people, often from professional families. So dealing with poverty and those issues is not going to eliminate the problem, but it certainly can reduce the pool of people prepared to give their lives for this cause.”
So the jihadists aren’t poor, but dealing with poverty will reduce their number? Huh? Here’s just one of many pieces on the poverty/terror myth.
In his exchange with members of the audience _ primarily government officials and security experts _ Gates was asked how long U.S. intelligence agencies think it will take Iran to build a nuclear weapon.
“The general view of American intelligence is that they would be in a position to develop a nuclear device probably sometime in the period 2010-2011 or 2014 or 15,” he said, adding that some think it could be as early as late next year….
On Iraq, Gates spoke positively of the Bush administration’s new troop buildup and counterinsurgency effort.
“The immediate goal is to create the breathing room necessary to allow reform and reconciliation to go forward _ steps that will give all of Iraq’s communities, majority and minorities alike, a stake in that nation’s future,” he said.