The nation and the world welcomed President Donald Trump’s Oct. 27 announcement that ISIS leader Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed by the U.S. military at his hideout in Northwest Syria. Our gratitude goes out to the military, the intelligence community, State Department and law enforcement for its coordinated effort to kill al-Baghdadi and destroy ISIS. This operation was reminiscent of the successful operation in 2011 that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of an al Qaeda organization that conducted terrorist attacks around the world.
These successful operations speak to unrelenting U.S. international leadership in countering all forms of international terrorism, whether it’s ISIS, al Qaeda or another extremist group in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia or Southeast Asia. The U.S. initiative in 2014 to establish the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, with 81 members, permits the U.S. and these member states and organizations to share information and strategize on efforts to counter all forms of violent extremism. There’s more work to be done by the United States and the Global Coalition, mindful of the hate and brutality of these extremist groups.
At a time when U.S. international leadership is questioned, we should pause and reflect on the continued global leadership of the United States on a multitude of international issues that affect all countries. Indeed, it was the United States in 2003 that established the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) to stop the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This global effort, now comprising 105 countries, is a concerted effort to coordinate efforts to ensure that nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and related materials, and their delivery systems, are not provided to or from state and non-state actors of proliferation concern.
This will continue to be a high priority for the United States and the global community, given that nuclear proliferation is an immediate concern. Indeed, if North Korea persists in retaining nuclear weapons and Iran inches closer to fabricating nuclear weapons, other countries, like South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others, regardless of U.S. extended nuclear deterrence commitments, will also pursue nuclear weapons for self-defense, deterrence purposes. A nuclear arms race in East Asia and the Middle East would be a disaster for the global community, given the potential for the accidental use of nuclear weapons or the sale of nuclear weapons or materials for profit or political advantage. The enforcement of PSI will help to prevent any of these scenarios from materializing.
Current negotiations with North Korea to secure a peaceful resolution of the North’s nuclear weapons programs are another manifestation of U.S. leadership on an issue that affects all countries. Since 1994, when it appeared that war would break out on the Korean Peninsula, it has been the United States, working with allies and partners, that invested significantly in seeking a peaceful resolution of issues with North Korea. Mr. Trump’s personal involvement in these negotiations is further proof that the United States will provide the leadership necessary to address this issue.
U.S. leadership on countering transnational organized crime, especially as it relates to the trafficking in drugs, continues to be a key priority for the United States and Europe. For decades, the United States has provided critical financial aid and technical assistance to Mexico and Colombia, and other countries, in joint efforts to disrupt and eliminate a myriad of drug trafficking criminal groups. The capture and imprisonment in the United States of Joaquin Guzman, the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico, responsible for distributing cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and heroin in the United States and Europe, was just one of a number of successful joint operations, with local governments, conducted by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), with aid from the intelligence community, the Defense Department and State Department, to counter and eliminate these criminal organizations.
Ambassador DeTrani’s Oped was originally published in The Washington Times. It was reprinted with the permission.