Transportation Security Nominee: ‘We Will Never Win’ War on Terror Permanently, But Can 'Contain Terrorism'

By Matt Cover | January 12, 2010 | 8:54 PM EST

Khalid Sheik Mohammed, a top al Qaeda leader who divulged information -- after being waterboarded -- that allowed the U.S. government to stop a planned terrorist attack on Los Angeles.

( – Erroll Southers, nominated by President Obama to head the Transportation Security Administration, said in a 2008 interview that “we will never win” a war on terrorism in the permanent sense, but we can "contain terrorism."
Southers, in an interview with the online how-to Web site  “VideoJug,” was asked, “What is the war on terror?” 
He answered:  “First, terror is a strategy and it's difficult at best academically speaking to have a war against a strategy. Second, to suggest ‘the war’ suggests there's a matrices for success. So, if the war on terror means that we're going to mitigate terrorism from ever happening again we will never win that war.” 
Southers explained that a more accurate conception would be the government’s war on drugs, which he said “unfortunately” is still ongoing along with the continued success of foreign drug traffickers.
The war on terror is “much like, unfortunately the war on drugs,” said Southers. “The war on drugs has been around for as long as I've been alive and narcotics trafficking is alive and, well, and prospering. So, I would like to say that we have an effort here to contain terrorism, to reduce the risk of terrorism.”
Southers was also asked, “Is U.S. foreign policy effective at preventing terrorism?”  In the video inter, he answers, “Some people might argue that U.S. foreign policy exacerbates terrorism. Our enemy, if you will, uses our foreign policy to suggest that, in the case of Islam, that this is a war against their religion. And given media networks overseas such as Al-Jezeera and others, they use what we do to suggest that this is a holy war.”
Southers further said that the way to fix this problem was to “engage communities across the globe.” Unless the government does this, Southers said, our counter-terrorist policies likely will not be “effective.”
“So, our foreign policy really needs to engage communities across the globe in explaining what we do, why we're doing it, and partner with them,” he said. “I don't think our foreign policy is going to be effective unless we partner with other countries who have the same terrorist concerns that we do in addressing those concerns. I think it's very important.”