Jewish World Review March 26, 2003 / 22 Adar II, 5763
War by new rules
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | `The buck stops here." The greatest American presidents have lived up to the sign Harry Truman put on his Oval Office desk. It is greatly to the credit of George Bush that he is honoring it in circumstances of complexity and menace unimaginable a decade ago.
The Berlin blockade, North Korea's invasion of the South, and the installation of nuclear missiles in Cuba were all immediate and obvious life-and-death crises that could not be fudged. The one we are living through now is very different. By comparison with a clash of the superpowers that could destroy the planet, it may seem minor, a matter for diplomatic procrastination and equivocation. That is how the French and Germans see it; 9/11 is remote from them. They aren't interested in making the good-faith effort to follow through on the Bush-Powell-Blair success in getting a 15-to-0 vote in favor of U.N. Resolution 1441. The depth of their faith in multilateralism is manifest in how they (joined by China and Russia) choose to deal with North Korea. There they insist the United States go it alone!
The equivocators could not be more wrong. Those who live by compromise will die by it for the simple reason that the jihad terrorists and rogue states do not recognize any boundaries and thus can't be deterred by the rules of the past half century. Their hands are close to weapons of mass destruction once available only to a superpower that could be held at bay by the certainty of its own annihilation.
Who could have imagined 20 years ago that the two countries that would present the greatest security problems to the United States would be North Korea and Iraq? Failed states, both. And yet today they represent enormous threats. How could this have come about?
Unforeseen enemies. First, they possess the critical ingredients that make up such a threat, nuclear potential in the case of North Korea, along with missile delivery systems; chemical and biological weapons in the case of Iraq. Even worse, these capabilities are married to evil intentions inherent in a radical, irresponsible, even psychopathic leadership; North Korea is ready to sell nukes to the highest bidder, Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden or any of the other fanatics.
Relatively small nuclear bombs--say a 10-kiloton device--could kill tens if not hundreds of thousands of people and render any major city uninhabitable. An anthrax attack could be launched with the intention of killing hundreds of people rather than just a few high-profile personalities in public life. The same for chemical weapons such as VX or biological weapons such as smallpox and botulism--all of which Iraq possesses. Then there are suicide bombers from groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. They hate the West and possess enough "martyr" killers to deliver the weapons. Any of these attacks would profoundly change life in America for decades and make the debates we enjoy today seem petty.
The nature of these weapons demands that we react more proactively than before--that we don't wait for the nukes and germ bombs and suicide bombers. Pre-emptive counterterrorism must become the top priority superseding all previous foreign, economic, political, and diplomatic objectives.
Even with the shock of 9/11, it will be difficult to change our national mind-set. More than 150 years ago, Alexis de Tocqueville assessed these difficulties when he wrote, "It is an arduous undertaking to excite the enthusiasm of a democratic nation for any theory which does not have a visible, direct, and immediate bearing on the occupations of their daily lives." But the failures of the Arab world are no longer confined to its own terrain. As the scholar Fouad Ajami writes, our challenge is dealing with "the `road rage' of a thwarted Arab world." The United States is now "the principal target of an aggrieved people who no longer believes that justice can be secured on one's own land, from one's own rulers."
It is hard for some Americans to appreciate what we are dealing with--not just people who differ with us but who are ready to die to assault Christianity, Judaism, and anything connected with the West. America in particular is seen as a direct challenge to their civilization centered in faith. What we see as pluralism and diversity, these extremists see as indifference to values. They believe that Islam should command all life, and in pursuing those ends, they will use whatever means are at their command.
Indeed, as Bernard Lewis wrote, the suicide bomber may well become a metaphor for these people as a symbol of hate and spite, rage and self-pity, and ruthless lack of concern for non-Muslims. We may not feel that we are at war with Islam, but the most radical elements in the Muslim world are convinced that they are at war with us. This certainly is true of Saddam's Iraq.
That is why we must maintain our resolve to disarm Iraq--if necessary by
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