realistic U.S. understanding of the extremists’ ideology and warfare and a comprehensive U.S. counter-strate- gy. Of the numerous international terror attacks, those on U.S. targets ranged from the 1993 bombing of New York’s Twin Towers, to the Al Qaeda leader Bin Laden’s declaration of war on the U.S. in 1996, to the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the 2000 attack on the U.S. warship USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden.
The G.W. Bush Administrations (January 2001 to January 2009) did much to restore U.S. military modernization programs dramatically cut by prior administrations, notably including a national anti-ballis- tic-missile (ABM) defense program killed by the Clinton administration and deciding to implement the six month withdrawal clause of the ABM Treaty because of aggravated global dangers from proliferating nuclear and missile capabilities. Most critically, the administration had to deal with the unprecedented September 11, 2001 terror strikes by Al Qaeda’s militant Islamist extremists against New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and also intended against the White House or U.S. Capitol. Al Qaeda had developed its power in the 1990s with little U.S. response and now sought to execute a severe shock to U.S. society to include decapitation of senior U.S. government levels. Bush led in informing and rallying the American people and an international coalition, including NATO partners, to take on Al Qaeda’s and its allied Taliban extremists’ bases in Afghanistan to achieve real successes in major areas there. A U.S. troop surge and new strategy de- veloped by General David Petraeus and others in Iraq was supported by Bush in Afghanistan and adopted on a limited basis by Barak Obama. It made substantial further progress, reversed after Obama rapidly cut U.S. combat forces, and set terminal dates for early troop withdrawals with uncertainty about residual U.S. force components required to maintain indispensable military presence, intelligence, influence, and contingency capabilities.
The Second Iraq War. The U.S. attacked Iraq in March 2003 because of severe concerns aroused by multi-national intelligence reports on Saddam Hussein; development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs while he had violated 17 post first Iraq War United Nations resolutions on international inspec- tions. The WMD programs reportedly included advanced chemical weapons (CW) such as Hussein had used in 1991 against Kurdish and Shiite minorities and earlier against Iran. While CW shells were found, active stocks were not reported, although several hundred truckloads of possibly related materials were reportedly transferred from Iraq to Syria just before the U.S. attack and many U.S. soldiers came down with illnesses relating to chemicals they had encountered in Iraq. Suspected Iraqi nuclear programs at several sites appeared confined largely to research on computers. (See CIA Adviser Charles Duelfer Testimony on Iraqi WMD Programs, March 30, 2004.) The initiation of the U.S. bombing of Iraq, led Libya’s Muammar Quadahfi to turn over his own extensive weapons of mass destruction CBW stocks and other programs to the U.S. and U.K. In Iraq, General Petraeus’ and his team’s civil-military programs, and a significant U.S. troop surge in 2007–08, achieved major military and political-social progress was achieved, including in competitive elections, women’s rights, and Sunni-Shia cooperation. But severe sectarian and tribal rifts continued, as did threats from Iran and Syria.
Obama Administrations (since January 2009). At this writing in December 2014, post-Cold War global volatilities have reached new levels of intensity and U.S. and Western policies have often appeared detached, confused, and ineffective as leadership, confidence and competence have waned and U.S. combat troops have withdrawn and hard-liners have gained momentum. Lessons of the Cold War have been unlearned in dealing with extremist militant faiths and forces that wage constant internal and external warfare against dis- sent, differences, and paths to toleration, pluralism, democracy, and peace. U.S. “resets” with Russia have not moderated Russian, notably Putin’s, aggressive actions in Ukraine and other Cold War-style aggression. The latter include violation of arms control treaties, and suppression of free press, political and religious activity and other core rights of modern democratic civil society. Russian collaboration with Syria’s Assad includes maintaining the Soviet naval base and supply source in Tartus and diplomatic cover that undermines effective international actions against the dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities while tolerating Iran’s vigorously anti-democratic and anti-Western proxy warfare through Hezbollah’s work with anti-democratic forces in Latin America and Iranian fighters in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Iraq.
A Note on China. The People’s Republic of China remains a major post-Cold War global concern as it still wavers on moving from totalitarian to authoritarian (but not democratic) forms of government. In its own version of Marxism-Leninism “with Chinese characteristics,” China’s Communist Party continues to suppress political diversity, freedom of speech and religion, and non-Han ethnic minorities and to rely on a largely unaccountable military-industrial-intelligence complex. Reagan’s work with the PRC during the Cold War