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Trans-Atlantic Counterterrorism

Advances in Trans-Atlantic Counterterrorism

In his remarks opening a meeting of the House Subcommittee on Europe, Representative Elton Gallegly stated, “since September 11th, our partnership with Europe has become even more vital as we seek common strategies and solutions for the plague of global terrorism.” Although this could be said for many U.S. allies in its Global War on Terrorism, the Trans-Atlantic partnership is of particular importance. The similar and parallel foreign policies of the U.S. and many European countries in the past demonstrate that the commonality of combating terrorism is yet another area of cooperation for these two world powers.

It is the very definition of counterterrorist (CT) — referring to offensive measures taken to prevent, deter, and respond to terrorist acts (including sanctuary denial, hostage rescue, and other terrorist suppression) — that requires cooperation to pursue its goals. The history of U.S.-European CT efforts displays the cooperation involved in such missions. Some of the earlier examples of CT cooperation include the decades-old military exchange between United States CT forces and British CT forces, and the co-basing of the U.S. hostage rescue team with British CT forces in Egypt. These events surrounding the Iran Hostage Rescue Mission were the very birth of the United States CT capability. Such cooperation has continued since the early 1980s and strengthened after September 11, 2001.

Additionally, due to the nature of the world’s modern financial infrastructure, international cooperation is essential to combating terrorist financing. Just as the U.S. and its allies froze Iranian assets during the 1979-1981 hostage crisis, the international community, and Europe in particular, performed similar actions after September 11, 2001. According to Senator John Kerry, “until October 2001, we did more damage to bin Laden and his terrorist enterprise by destroying his money laundering efforts than we did by firing missiles at tents in the desert.” Since recent events, Europe has acted in line with U.S. policy by cutting down the options terrorists use to finance their operations.

Finally, despite the current Trans-Atlantic rift concerning U.S. policy in Iraq, the bonds formed from effective cooperation in the area of counterterrorism could surpass the frustrations of this delicate aspect of Middle East policy. Indeed, due to the necessary counterterrorist operations involved in rebuilding Iraq, it might be those cooperative efforts which could form coalitions and strengthen ties. The essence of this reinforced counterterrorism relationship could be the unwavering foundation for lasting democratic peace despite the current Trans-Atlantic rift over policy in Iraq.

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