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Jewish World Review March 26, 2003 / 22 Adar II, 5763

Mort Zuckerman

Mort Zuckerman
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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 ourselves.

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JWR contributor Mort Zuckerman is editor-in-chief and publisher of U.S. News and World Report. Send your comments to him by clicking here.

Up


03/05/03: The high price of waiting
02/14/03: Needed: fast fiscal action
02/03/03: Clear and compelling proof
01/24/03: Midnight for Baghdad
01/14/03: They should have said...
12/24/02: Who finances the fanatics?
12/19/02: Put-up or shut-up time
12/09/02: Sheep, wolves, and reality
11/21/02: Curing the uncommon cold
11/12/02: Everybody has the right to be wrong but the Dems have been abusing the privilege
11/05/02: Force vs. fanaticism
10/30/02: Land of the sinking sun
10/22/02: No more cat and mouse
10/15/02: And pigs will fly
10/07/02: A shameful contagion
09/26/02: Calling a madman's number
09/23/02: Our rainbow underclass
09/13/02: Why America must act
09/04/02: After bubbles, a double dip?
08/20/02: No time for equivocation
08/06/02: No time for politics
07/30/02: Getting off the dime
07/17/02: What scandal cannot dim
06/18/02: Time to crack down: Where is the outrage?
06/05/02: The next new thing
04/30/02: Roller-coaster nation
04/25/02: A critical tipping point
04/15/02: Israel's endgame will impact the free world
03/21/02: In the face of pure evil
03/14/02: A man on a mission
03/07/02: Land of the Sinking Sun
02/12/02: Speaking truth about energy
01/15/02: Putting our house in order
01/12/02: Talking points for 2002
12/24/01: The shape of things to come
12/11/01: Finally, a clarity of vision
12/04/01: Apocalypse now
11/26/01: The Big Apple's core
11/06/01: What it will take to win
10/22/01: Getting the mayor's message
10/08/01: A remedy for repair
10/01/01: A question of priorities
09/26/01: Our mission, our moment
09/11/01: Running the asylum
08/29/01: Hail, brave consumer
06/14/01: Blackouts --- or blackmail?
06/01/01: A time to reap --- and sow
05/25/01: A question of confidence
05/18/01: A question of confidence
05/04/01: Making the grade
04/26/01: The caribou conundrum
04/19/01: Chinese boomerang
03/27/01: The man of the moment
03/20/01: The Fed must be bold
03/15/01: Japan on the brink
03/01/01: Rethinking the next war
02/09/01: The education paradox
01/08/01: How the bottom fell out
01/03/01: Quipping in the new year
12/20/00: A time for healing
11/13/00: The need for legitimacy
10/30/00: Arafat's bloody cynicism
10/18/00: Arafat torches peace
10/03/00: A great step backward
09/08/00: The Perfect Storm
08/29/00: Don't blow the surplus
08/15/00: Voting for grown-ups
08/01/00: Arafat's lack of nerve
07/17/00: Can there be a new peace between old enemies? Or will new enemies regress to an old state of war?
07/11/00: A time to celebrate
06/19/00: A bit of straight talk
06/08/00: Using hate against Israel
05/26/00: Is the Federal Reserve trigger-happy?
04/18/00: Tensions on the 'Net
04/13/00: A paranoid power
03/10/00: Fuel prices in the red zone
02/25/00: Web wake-up call
02/18/00: Back to the future
01/21/00: Whistling while we work
01/11/00: Loose lips, fast quips
12/23/99: The times of our lives
12/14/99: Hey, big spender
11/18/99: Fountain of Youth
11/04/99: An impossible partner
10/14/99: A nation divided
10/05/99: India at center stage
09/21/99: Along with good cops, we need a better probation system
09/08/99: Though plundered and confused, Russia can solve its problems
08/31/99: The military should spend more on forces and less on facilities
08/05/99: Squandering the surplus
07/06/99: More than ever, America's unique promise is a reality
06/24/99: The time has come to hit the brakes on affirmative action
06/15/99: America should take pride in honoring its responsibilities
06/02/99: The Middle Kingdom shows its antagonistic side
05/11/99: Technology's transforming power is giving a lift to everything
05/04/99: The big game gets bigger
04/30/99: On Kosovo, Russia talked loudly and carried a small stick
04/21/99: No time to go wobbly
04/13/99: The Evil of two lessers

© 2001, Mortimer Zuckerman