February 22, 2012

CNAS Chairman Lauds Brunei Stability, Education

After inflicting fear into the hearts of the world’s population, the threat of terrorism, as deemed by experts, has declined within the region following the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the seemingly faltering al-Qaeda 2.0.


Explaining this phenomenon to the media yesterday, the Chairman of the Board for the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) Dr Richard Danzig pointed out that “real progress” in tackling terrorism-induced issues has been made in several countries in Southeast Asia known for their participation in terrorism and that the 10 Asean member states have been doing “very well”.

However, he did note that “there is always a possibility of a surprise and you should worry about how you would respond to that,” whilst advising governments to prepare for “what kinds of attacks might occur and how to protect yourselves”.

“But I think the risk is less now than it would have been four or five years ago,” observed the retired 71st Secretary to the Navy who is also currently the consultant to the US Departments of Defense and Homeland Security on terrorism.

The reason behind terrorism’s loosening grip, he pointed out, is due to the fact that “various countries have taken aggressive action and because I think al-Qaeda has lost its base in Afghanistan and very much attacked by the United States in an effective way” along with the revolution of the Arab Spring’s methods of “bringing about change than using terrorism as a weapon”.

Governments, he said, should consider investing in “systems that give people a meaningful education, prepare them for the world and give them a broad view that is tolerant” as a means to further eliminate the mindset responsible for the countless deaths of innocent lives around the world.

Considering that Brunei is in the midst of readying its resources for the Asean Summit for the year 2013 that will see the convergence of heads of states and hundreds of foreign visitors, transparency between governments in terms of security is one such way to deter the threat of untoward circumstances.

“You need to work with other countries,” which Brunei is actively carrying out, “on issues of intelligence and security and it isn’t easy to talk about these things because many of them are classified. But I think that governments can talk about them so we can share information about risks and actions that should be taken,” such as the steps that are taken within the aviation industry whereby security standards have become “more commonly shared”.

Lauding Brunei Darussalam’s influence as a small nation known for its political stability and resources that focuses on the importance of broadening the minds of the younger generation within the classrooms and beyond the borders of the nation and the country’s “unthreatening” demeanour, meanwhile, Dr Danzig emphasised that the Sultanate can play a significant role in bringing peace to the region such as through the setting up of educational exchanges “that flows between Asean countries”, which relevant authorities have been working steadfastly to encourage.

“At a different level,” he continued, “I think Brunei can be very helpful in trying to encourage the evolution of the dispute resolution mechanism of the South China Sea or at least some understanding about how to avoid going to war because Brunei has obvious interest in that regard but isn’t going to go to war with any one.

“So it ought to be able to carry these messages throughout Asean, the United States and other countries with some effectiveness.”

The CNAS Board Chairman was in the country on the invitation of the United States Embassy in Brunei Darussalam and Universiti Brunei Darussalam under the Eminent Speaker Series programme where he discussed with guests the topic “America in Asia” surrounding American’s commitment to Asia and why, its role within the region, the importance of America to Asia, America’s relation with China and the Brunei-America relationship.

Located in Washington, DC and established in early 2007, the Non-Profit Organisation was set up to develop strong, pragmatic and principled national security and defence policies based on the experience and expertise of its staff and advisors whilst engaging policymakers, experts and the public to shape and elevate the national security debate.