from Politics, Power, and Preventive Action and Center for Preventive Action

You Might Have Missed: Al-Qaeda, China, and Preventive Diplomacy

September 15, 2011

Blog Post
Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

Security Council members vote on a Libyan resolution during a Security Council Meeting at U.N. headquarters in New York on March 18, 2011 (Jessica Rinaldi/Courtesy Reuters).
Security Council members vote on a Libyan resolution during a Security Council Meeting at U.N. headquarters in New York on March 18, 2011 (Jessica Rinaldi/Courtesy Reuters).

- Carl Bialik, “Shadowy Figure: Al Qaeda’s Size Is Hard to Measure,” Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2011.

“Lt. Col. Jim Gregory, a Pentagon spokesman, said he didn’t know how many countries had an al Qaeda presence. He said the current government estimate for al Qaeda is 3,000 to 4,000 members. ‘The numbers don’t tell the whole story," he added. "It doesn’t take a large amount of people to carry out a terrorist attack.’”

- Mohsin Hamid, “Why They Get Pakistan Wrong,” The New York Review of Books, September 29, 2011.

“Pakistan is a large country, with a population of 180 million and a GDP of $175 billion. Average annual US economic assistance comes to less than 0.3 percent of Pakistan’s current GDP, or $2.67 per Pakistani citizen. Here in Lahore, that’s the price of a six-inch personal-size pizza with no extra toppings from Pizza Hut….Perhaps the vast majority of Pakistanis with an unfavorable view of the United States simply believe their annual free pizza is not worth the price of a conflict that claims the lives of thousands of their fellow citizens each year.”

- Dexter Filkins, “Letter From Islamabad: The Journalist and the Spies,” The New Yorker, September 29, 2011.

“These days, the high-level American official told me, most drone attacks in Pakistan are ‘signature strikes,’ which are carried out when a group of people match a certain profile—they are operating a training camp, for instance, or consorting with known militants. Such strikes are not directed at specific individuals—like, say, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda’s new leader. Usually, the agency doesn’t know the identities of the people it is firing at. ‘Most of the high-value targets have been killed this way,’ the American official told me.”

- Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations, Note addressed to the Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) concerning the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, United Nations Security Council, July 7, 2011.

“In the area of arms exports, China has consistently taken a prudent and responsible approach and enforces strict controls. China conscientiously implements the provisions of Security Council resolution 1970 (2011), and does not supply, sell or transfer arms or related materiel of any type to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.”

(3PA: Reportedly, one month after China made this report to the UN Sanctions Committee, “state-controlled Chinese arms companies offered to sell [Libya] $200 million worth of rocket launchers, antitank missiles, portable surface-to-air missiles designed to bring down aircraft, and other weapons and munitions.”)

- Report of the Secretary General, “Preventive Diplomacy: Delivering Results,” United Nations Security Council, August 26, 2011.

“Despite serious challenges that continue to hamper preventive diplomacy efforts, which will be discussed later in this report, there are growing indications that our collective efforts at prevention are responding better to the needs on the ground. The number of low-intensity conflicts that started in the period from 2000 to 2009 is only roughly half as high as those that started in the 1990s. In the same period, the number of new high-intensity conflicts (onsets and escalations) also dropped, from 21 to 16.9 While a number of factors explain this decline, more and better preventive action by Member States and international organizations is an important part of the story.”

“However, the extent to which we pool our analysis of these [early warning] data still varies. Above all, there is a need for us to better anticipate those “threshold moments” when parties to a conflict decide, or feel compelled, to use or escalate violence to achieve their aims. The more we understand the motives and calculations of key actors, the better we will be able to tailor a preventive response.”