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Will America Be Safe Again?

Will America Be Safe Again?The U.S. should adopt some of the lessons of World War II to its current campaign against terrorism, says Tufts graduate and security analyst Harlan Ullman. Washington, D.C.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [09.11.02] While the "War on Terrorism" has brought the United States into a new age of modern warfare, an expert on international security says the country needs to borrow a lesson from World War II to achieve a real victory. Fletcher graduate Harlan Ullman - who just released a new book on the roots of the September attacks - says the U.S. and its allies need to undertake a modern-day Manhattan Project to defeat terrorism.

"America's practice, as with most states, is to classify nasty surprises such as Japan's attack against Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Soviet Russia's test of nuclear weapons in 1949 and Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 as intelligence failures," Ullman - a national security advisor and former Navy Commander - wrote in the Financial Times. "In a technical sense, there will always be 'intelligence' failures. However, the meaning and use of the term are incomplete. The failure is not simply one of the agencies and offices associated with intelligence, but rather with our collective intellects."

According to Ullman, the U.S. can no longer rely on just its ability to collect data - it now needs to rethink its approach to how it uses it.

"There have been several understandable suggestions to assemble the best minds in the country to produce some solutions," the Fletcher graduate wrote in the Times. "But what is needed is precise focus on what those minds should be chartered and empowered to do. This is where intellect matters."

History, Ullman wrote, offers several examples of the power of collective thinking to develop a brand new approach to fighting the enemy.

The outcome of World War II was determined in part, by two major intellectual collaborations - Bletchley Park, which broke the codes of the Axis powers, and the Manhattan Project, which developed the Atomic Bomb, he wrote.

"What is needed today is a melding of the two," Ullman wrote in his opinion piece in the Times.

The extremist groups behind the September 11 attacks are relatively unfamiliar - making it difficult for the U.S. to anticipate their moves.

Before we can defeat them, "A group that combines the elements of Bletchley and Manhattan needs to break the 'codes' of what motivates the behavior of extremist groups and how such behavior can be predicted, shaped, deflected and modified, if at all," wrote the Tufts graduate, who earned two master's degrees and a doctorate from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

And like World War II, a new class of weapons is needed to intimidate terrorists from acting.

"Super tools and weapons - information-age equivalents of the atomic bomb - have to be invented," Ullman wrote in the Times. "Many of these tools will not resemble the traditional weapons of war. However, as the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki finally convinced the Japanese Emperor and High Command that even suicidal resistance was futile, these tools must be directed towards a similar outcome for terrorism and its place."

In his newly published book, "Unfinished Business: Afghanistan, the Middle East and Beyond - Defusing the Dangers that Threaten America's Security," the Fletcher graduate outlines several other steps he believes the U.S. should embrace.

"[Among] Ullman's recommendations for improving national security [are] the creation of a new Marshall Plan to eliminate poverty and authoritarianism and other causes of extremism around the world and the revision of the National Security Act in order to reorganize and better integrate the operations of law enforcement and intelligence agencies," reported New York's Star Gazette.

The Tufts graduate's recommendations - which are based on the idea that the roots of terrorism lie in the unresolved issues of the Persian Gulf and Cold Wars - have received a lot of backing in Washington.

"Ullman is a well-known policy expert inside 'the Beltway' and his book is an extraordinary and brilliant combination of history, analysis, logic and prescription that shows vividly the genesis of the dangers we now face and offers creative yet practical solutions for how we should deal with them," William Sessions - the former director of the FBI - said in the Gazette's article about Ullman.

But this kind of massive endeavor will certainly face resistance, Ullman wrote in the Times, just as Bletchley Park and the Manhattan Project did.

"Some will argue that this role should go to the newly announced Homeland Security Office," he wrote in the Times. "Others will argue that the U.S. government is dysfunctionally organized with responsibility and authority rationed among so many offices and agencies that no single group could survive, let along function."

But if the U.S. cannot find a way to undertake this type of effort, a real victory in the "War on Terrorism" may be out of reach.

"If the U.S. is to win the coming campaigns against extremism, it will be through superior intellect," Ullman wrote. "Business as usual will not guarantee failure. But it will make it much more likely."

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