Ex-chief of the CIA says declaring ‘war on terror’ was an error

Ex-chief of the CIA says declaring ‘war on terror’ was an error
16 September 2016

The decision to declare ‘war on terror’ was incorrect, because terrorism is a tactic that people have been resorting to for a long time, said the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (1991-93) and US former Defense Minister (2006-11), Robert Gates.

“I believe that when we declared the ‘war on terror’, this was an error. Terrorism is a human tactic, it appeared when people appeared on Earth. There was much terrorism in the 19th century as well as in the beginning of the 20th century. Between 1905 and 1910, 16 thousand officials in the Russian empire were killed by terrorists,” Gates said. He was speaking at the 13th Annual Meeting of the Yalta European Strategy.

Gates added that an adequate reaction to threats was required.

“We should always keep the context in mind, so as not to exaggerate a threat, and to ensure our reaction to a problem isn’t excessive,” Gates said.

The former CIA chief, Robert Gates, also said that terrorism should be controlled in a way that means society does not have to change its behaviour and values significantly.

“Terrorism has to be controlled in a way that allows other society members to continue living without seriously changing their life, their behaviour, or limiting their values,” Gates said.

Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Niall Ferguson, said that for his part, it was important to gain victory against terrorism on the field of culture. Education is an important component here.

“People do not just wake up thinking they are going to blow themselves up today. They have this sentiment building in their heads for months or even years, under the influence of radical leaders. We have ignored this battlefield and left fundamentalism to spread - this has to be corrected,” Ferguson said.

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Carl Bildt
Carl Bildt
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, 9th YES Annual Meeting, 2012
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