Diplomacy, Development, Defense -- the Focus of the Regional Strategic Initiative

Posted by Salmah Y. Rizvi
August 15, 2008
Secretary Rice Shaking Hands, USAID Bag, and Unarmed Aerial Vehicle. [AP photos]

About the Author: Salmah Y. Rizvi serves as the Truman Fellow in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism.

In regions where economic opportunities are few, access to fair education is limited, ethnic conflict influences everyday life, and religious zeal is manipulated for corrupt purposes, extremists leaders will exploit these conditions to create what the National Intelligence Council calls a "perfect storm" -- the most efficient breeding ground for terrorists.

These malevolent non-state actors will use a variety of techniques to create safe havens -- physical space, cyber space, and ideological space in order to brainwash the most vulnerable members of society. Their missions often transcend national boundaries and their campaigns become regional. In order to combat such multifaceted approaches to terrorist infiltration, the U.S. Counterterrorism Team, specifically Regional Affairs Officers (RAOs) from the Department of State's Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism (S/CT), must use all elements of national power to tactically implement the Regional Strategic Initiative (RSI) with the support of partner nations.

Planned in Washington, D.C., and hosted by U.S. embassies overseas, the RSI creates a flexible network of coordinated country teams, whose aim is to assist partner nations to eliminate terrorist safe havens. In Washington, S/CT RAOs interface with other intelligence and security agencies to properly assess terrorist threats in a particular region and develop a common strategic approach to counterterrorism. S/CT pools resources and tasks to generate a unified effort by the U.S. government while leveraging resources from international partners such as the G8, UN, etc. Department of State's regional bureaus and functional bureaus, such as INL, rely on S/CT's regional expertise in combating terrorism. Primarily, S/CT makes policy recommendations for various technical assistance programs which can be implemented on the ground.

One example of the RSI concept is the Southeast Asia RSI which includes Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Southeast Asia RAO, Daniel Mahanty, cited the combination of the U.S. Embassy Manila Country Team's holistic approach using the "three D's" (Diplomacy, Development, and Defense) and capacity building for other regional partners as critical to the Southeast Asia RSI concept. Mahanty elaborated: "the southern Philippines, a loosely governed area with extensive coastline access to the Sulawesi Sea, was in the throes of civil conflict and vulnerable to economic hardship, criminal activity, and natural disasters -- the kinds of conditions that transnational terrorist groups were taking advantage of to establish safe haven. Terrorists could easily transit the Sulawesi sea between the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The U.S. provided military assistance to help train the Philippines national army to root out Abu Sayyaf Group and Jemaah Islamiya Organization terrorists, which allowed Philipines military and police to provide security and gain the trust of the local population. More than 80% of the Embassy strategy, however, involved supporting the peace and reconciliation process between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and providing multi-sectoral development assistance to the people of the southern Philippines as areas become devoid of terrorists and supporters. At the same time, we looked for ways to support and build the capacity of other Southeast Asian nations in their own efforts to secure their borders and maintain maritime domain awareness. This regional strategy went a long way to help create an area less amenable to terrorist causes and deprived terrorists of significant safe haven and training areas -- a development with significant impact on the entire region. The idea of the RSI is to acknowledge through policy development and resource allocation that a comprehensive approach to terrorism will require all elements of national power and a regional perspective to address the conditions that terrorists exploit."

The RSI embodies a regional perspective for many of the tools of U.S. counterterrorism assistance, such as assistance to law enforcement, countering terrorism finance, building legal capacity, and promoting counterterrorism cooperation in multilateral organizations. The implementation of the RSI not only counters terrorism, but also builds credibility, good governance, and increased economic capability.

Comments

Comments

Syrian P.
|
Syria
August 17, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

It is really sad (and dangerous) to see that after all, the U.S. State Department and Intelligence Agencies still did not get it. Now here how the introduction in this post should read:

In regions where economic opportunities are non existent, access to education and employment is only available for the ruling elites, investments that are only granted to close knit circle in cahoots with foreign banking and corporate interests, rampant paralyzing corruption, ethnic conflict driven by foreign interests controls everyday life and the future of the youth, and religious zeal is manipulated for corrupt purposes by illegitimate and unpopular leaders hired by the same foreign Interests to squash freedom, rights and hopes, Courageous National leaders will exploit these conditions to create what the uninformed National Intelligence Council calls a "perfect storm to the foreign interests" -- the most efficient breeding ground for brave Nationalist leaders who campaign for better and fairer social and economic State...

These noble active non-state actors will use a variety of techniques to create safe havens from genocidal, Israeli or Western trained Security Forces that are paid little in salaries and live mostly on graft, corruption and kickbacks -- physical space away for torture chambers equipped with latest German, American and Israeli torture tools, cyber space to remain anonymous, a very disturbing fact for Foreign Intelligence Agencies that are in cahoots with the local one, and ideological space in order to motivate the most intelligent and capable members of society. Their missions often transcend national boundaries since most are exiled and their campaigns become global in nature, most speak in dozen languages and have members and access globally whenever a member is exiled to a region.
In order to combat such multifaceted approaches to infiltration by groups that rock the boat and cause potential danger to BP pipelines, the U.S. Counterterrorism Team, specifically Regional Affairs Officers (RAOs) from the Department of State's Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism (S/CT), must use all elements of national FORCE and power to Genocidal implement the Regional Strategic Initiative (RSI) with the support of puppet nations...

LOL.. How much do you pay Salmah Y. Rizvi? I hope you will realize where the problems starts, and soon.

Bruce
|
Illinois, USA
August 17, 2008

Bruce in Illinois writes:

As the saying goes here in Chicago, all politics is local. As in Iraq, the solutions are to be found through a focus at the local level - rather than through those whose focus is on their own power ambitions at the national level. The terrorists are out there recruiting locally, not centrally.

Don't try to tackle the risks in entire regions at a high level through multilateral and central government efforts involving finance, training, etc. It shouldn't be trickle-down from the top. It needs to involve reaching out at the local level to find what works to empower them to take greater responsibility for their own security, rather than to treat it as somebody else's problem at the national or international level. If central bureaucratic planning were the solution, the old Soviet Union would still be around. Think regionally to share what works, but decentralize to focus on finding local solutions (not imposing them).

Think more like the micro lending development model as practiced by Grameen - getting small groups of individuals to assume responsibility for their own success. Don't try to do it all for them. Listen and empower them. Trust and support them, but also verify that they are keeping their commitments. Let the success be theirs, not yours.

Alvin S.
|
Virginia, USA
August 17, 2008

Alvin in Virginia writes:

Terrorists could easily transit the Sulawesi sea between the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia.... being in the Navy, I would have to agree with this wholeheartedly!

Ron
|
New York, USA
August 18, 2008

Ron in New York writes:

RSI?

Diplomacy?

Just look at USG/DoS approach to:

Afghanistan
Iraq
Pakistan
Iran
Colombia

In Pakistan, Musharraf represents a small working model of the US approach to governance....military, dictatorial, internal security control, fear-based, inflationary economy...only difference....Musharraf is "resigning"...actually he is being fired as USG/DoS surrogate in the failed global war on terrorism.

Ron
|
New York, USA
August 19, 2008

Ron in New York writes:

RSI sounds like a continued justification for the endless war on terror paradigm...just add all the other elements
rejected by the Bush/Rove/Cheney team.

Multi-lateral my foot!

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
August 20, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Ron in New York and SNP in Syria -- Ron and SNP, here's some suggested reading:

http://foreign.senate.gov/hearings/2008/hrg080731p.html

When you realize your posts are the products of cluelessness, you'll understand why I'm not bothering to address them other than to provide you with the facts.

Zharkov
|
United States
August 20, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

Yes, won't it be wonderful when the entire world is under martial law?

Imagine the joy of no square inch of soil left ungoverned, untaxed, and unregulated!

What a thrill.

Secretary Rice says it is Israel's choice whether to attack Iran, but not Russia's choice whether to defend South Ossetia?

The "new world order" will be quite a paradox.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
August 21, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Zharkov in U.S.A. -- Russia is not defending itself, Zharkov. Whereas Israel very well might have to.

I cordially suggest you invest in tundra.....(chuckle).

Zharkov
|
United States
August 21, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

Sorry, Eric in New Mexico, but you support a foreign policy based on propaganda, lies, and deceit, and have bought into it.

I cordially invite you to remove your head from the New Mexico sand and begin reading about what Israel and our government is actually doing in Georgia and why Russia objects. It should be obvious, Eric, that the Bush Administration is starting a new Cold War.

Not only is this totally unnecessary, but it was absolutely not wanted by Russia. If you read ANYTHING at all, you would know this much.

Syrian P.
|
Syria
August 22, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico -- Please don't force me to again post the short list of the top 50 genocidal dictators the U.S. backed and supported financially, militarily and politically for the past 50 years, and the one it supports now as I write this comment.

Do you want me to post photos of official White House visits or DOS head visits? I can do all (well not Pol Pot, I only have CIA visits photos to his genocidal Excellency). The list of atrocities and National Treasury drain these U.S. backed supporters of freedom to kill and rob is big enough to fill New Mexico.

You are asking me to read something the worst of Neo-con-men are witness to and appearing for the U.S. Senate Hearing. Find better propaganda, we are not here, wasting time to shell out propaganda. When did you hear me exalt what Assad or Syria doing in the world?

What is really baffling to SNP, after looking at those Senate Foreign Relation Committee members, is how such a list of distinguished gentlemen, having highly experienced expertise in foreign policy would fail America decade after decade. I mean us talking institutional names like Biden, Lugar, Hagel, Boxer, and Dodd. If these men and women failed why anyone in the world should trust Americans and the promises they make.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
August 22, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Zharkov in U.S.A. -- Russia has no legal right to object to Georgia's bilateral relations with anyone, Zharkov.

If you don't know this, look up the definition of "soverignity".

I always know when I'm dead on accurate in my statements when you call them "propaganda" Zharkov. Thanks for validating my self assesment....(chuckle).

If Russia didn't "want this", then she sure went about seeing it not happen in a completely ineffective manner by becoming part of the problem that created "this".

If Russia hadn't wanted this, or international condemnation, they would have confined their "peacekeeping" to inside S. Ossetia.

Confined themselves to the role the OSCE agreement mandated, and asked for international help to keep the crisis from getting totally out of hand, then they would have earned the respect and support of the "West" to help them do just that.

It's not so much what the Russians did by reacting to violence in the region, but in how they went about it.

The only one choosing to make this a cold war is Russia.

Not like we're threatening to nuke them over it, but I would say that if an American general said something similar to what a Russian general said about nuking Poland because of their missile defense treaty with the U.S., he'd be publicly drummed out of our armed forces within the day he uttered such a suggestion.

In any case, action speaks louder than dysfunctional rhetoric.

Why do you protest so much about what is the self-evident truth, Zharkov?

The Russian know they bit off a little more than they can chew, and are finally leaving Georgia and accepting the will of the international community in this matter.

It is up to them as to what kind of relationship they wish to have, and that has been made abundantly clear to them.

Why do you still have a problem with it?

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
August 25, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ SNP in Syria -- SNP , post whatever...as it is said in New Mexico, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him think."

So what you do with the facts I posted is up to you, but remember that these things are not propoganda, they are the basis for U.S. policy, and reflective of it.

And that is the hard reality. Only one fooling themselves about this is you.

Personally, I think you should stick to offering a perspective on Syrian foreign affairs rather than try to show others how little you know about America.

Syrian P.
|
Syria
August 25, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

@ Eric in NM, No one buys your propoganda, except guppy Americans or those gaining contract works from wars.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
September 1, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Scuse me SNP, but who anointed you as spokesman for humanity?

Or anyone else on this blog for that matter.

Seems when you lack a valid rebuttle to the truth as I see it, you call it "propoganda".

Well, that dog for sure don't hunt.

This is simply a symptom of intellectual laziness on your part.

I just don't think your tactics of "debate" here serve to lend you any credibility, and it's probably a good idea to do a complete self assesment of your group's "public diplomacy" efforts.

It may be that I have a dangerous mind, and that my thoughts threaten the "status quo" much to your dislike. But that's your problem, not mine.

Zharkov
|
United States
September 1, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

Eric, before you gag on DoS propaganda, go see what you are defending -- Google search: "Operation Gladio", "Operation Northwoods", and "Cheney, False Flag Attack Plan" among many others, and see if you want to defend what they are doing. If you agree with their plans, please burn your birth certificate.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
September 2, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

(chuckle)...why should I waste my time googling your pet conspiracy theories when I can get solid info from the source, Zharkov?

Try it sometime, you might just learn something.

.

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