CITO

Last week, John Edwards proposed the creation of a new multilateral organization he would call CITO, the Counterterrorism and Intelligence Treaty Organization:

Every nation has an interest in shutting down terrorism. CITO will create connections between a wide range of nations on terrorism and intelligence, including countries on all continents, including Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe. New connections between previously separate nations will be forged, creating new possibilities.CITO will allow members to voluntarily share financial, police, customs and immigration intelligence. Together, nations will be able to track the way terrorists travel, communicate, recruit, train, and finance their operations. And they will be able to take action, through international teams of intelligence and national security professionals who will launch targeted missions to root out and shut down terrorist cells.The new organization will also create a historic new coalition. Those nations who join will, by working together, show the world the power of cooperation. Those nations who join will also be required to commit to tough criteria about the steps they will take to root out extremists, particularly those who cross borders. Those nations who refuse to join will be called out before the world.

I think this is a very good idea. As Edwards says, “it’s important to note that CITO is not a panacea, nor will it be perfect.” Indeed, as he doesn’t say, it’s even possible something like this would be a huge flop. But it’s also a pretty promising idea. And best of all, I like the basis of the thinking behind it, namely the idea that the rise of transnational terrorism can and should be a locus for increased levels of international cooperation. Here, for example, we see a proposal for a new multilateral organization that it would be perfectly reasonable for Russia and China to enthusiastically join (unlike a Concert of Democracies) and where countries like Japan, Germany, India, and Brazil would have a chance to step up and take a leading role in the world stage in a way that would also be a constructive one.

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This is a much more appealing vision of America’s relationship with the world than you tend to see nowadays — one’s that’s optimistic and looking for opportunities, rather than one seeking conflict and sowing fear.