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[casi] Madeleine Albright: Bridges, Bombs, or Bluster?

Madeleine -- "We think the price is worth it" -- K. Albright writing in the
Council on Foreign Relations' "Foreign Affairs" mag:  "Bridges, Bombs, or

Bridges, Bombs, or Bluster?
By Madeleine K. Albright
>From Foreign Affairs, September/October 2003



Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are
with us, or you are with the terrorists.

There are only two powers now in the world. One is America, which is
tyrannical and oppressive. The other is a warrior who has not yet been
awakened from his slumber and that warrior is Islam.

Make no mistake about it: the choice for sure is between two visions of the

Few readers will fail to identify the first quotation cited above: it was
uttered by President George W. Bush, speaking soon after the September 11,
2001, terrorist attacks. Few readers, similarly, will be surprised to learn
that the second quote came from a Sunni Muslim cleric in Baghdad, Imam
Mouaid al-Ubaidi. The third quote, however, may be a bit harder to identify:
it was spoken by French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, describing
the different world views now held by Washington and Paris. And it should
remind us that not everyone divides the world along the same lines as the
United States.

Framing choices is central to national security policy. Since World War II,
no nation has played a more influential role in defining such alternatives
than the United States. Today, however, the Bush administration purports to
be redefining the fundamental choice "every nation, in every region" must
make. America's radical adversaries -- eager to promote themselves as the
United States' chief nemeses -- are echoing the attempt. Those caught in the
middle, however, suggest the choices before them may not be quite so simple.

For President Bush, September 11 came as a revelation, leading him to the
startled conclusion that the globe had changed in ways gravely hazardous to
the security -- indeed, the very survival -- of the United States. This
conclusion soon led Bush to a fateful decision: to depart, in fundamental
ways, from the approach that has characterized U.S. foreign policy for more
than half a century. Soon, reliance on alliance had been replaced by
redemption through preemption; the shock of force trumped the hard work of
diplomacy, and long-time relationships were redefined.

In making these changes, Bush explicitly rejected the advice offered by one
senior statesman who warned, "this most recent surprise attack [should]
erase the concept in some quarters that the United States can somehow go it
alone in the fight against terrorism, or in anything else, for that matter."
So said George H.W. Bush, the United States' 41st president. But his son,
the 43rd president, offered his own perspective shortly before going to war
with Iraq: "At some point, we may be the only ones left. That's okay with
me. We are America."

The second Bush administration, believing that its perception of the meaning
of September 11 is self-evidently right, has failed to make a sustained
effort to persuade the rest of the world to share it. As a result, the world
does not in fact subscribe to the same view. Certainly, most of the world
does not agree with Bush that September 11 "changed everything." This is not
to say the attacks were met by indifference. On the contrary, NATO, for the
first time in its history, declared the crimes to be acts of aggression
against the entire alliance. Almost every government in the Muslim world,
including Iran and the Palestinian Authority, condemned the strikes. U.S.
allies, from Canada to Japan to Australia, rushed to aid or complement the
American military campaign against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Pakistan, properly confronted by the administration with a stark choice,
chose to cooperate as well. Even China and Russia, plagued by Muslim
separatists, pledged solidarity. For months after September 11, it seemed
the Bush administration would harness these reactions to unite the world in
opposition to a common threat.

The president began well, emphasizing the array of nationalities victimized
in the Twin Towers attacks and gathering broad support for the military
operation he directed at the perpetrators. Al Qaeda's Taliban protectors
were pushed from power, its training camps were destroyed, arms caches were
seized, and many of its leaders were captured or killed. But instead of
single-mindedly building on these gains, the Bush administration has since
steadily enlarged and complicated its own mission.

In his 2002 State of the Union address, for example, President Bush focused
not on al Qaeda and the work remaining in Afghanistan, but rather on the
so-called axis of evil. In public remarks later that year, he emphasized not
the value of building an antiterror coalition, but rather his unilateral
intention to maintain U.S. "military strength beyond challenge, thereby
making the destabilizing arms races of other eras pointless." He then asked
Congress for the authority to explore new uses for nuclear weapons, creating
the perception overseas that he was lowering the threshold for nuclear
strikes -- despite the United States' vast conventional military superiority
and the risks posed to U.S. security by the proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction (WMD).

When the administration published its 2002 National Security Strategy last
September, it took this process even further, transforming anticipatory
self-defense -- a tool every president has quietly held in reserve -- into
the centerpiece of its national security policy. This step, however, was
dangerously easy to misconstrue. (Do we really want a world in which every
country feels entitled to attack any other that might someday threaten it?)
And when Bush did discuss the pursuit of al Qaeda, he portrayed it less as a
global struggle against a global threat than as an effort to bring
terrorists to "American justice" -- as if justice alone were not enough.

Finally, in 2003, Washington did begin once more to rally world support --
but this time against Iraq, not al Qaeda. To bolster the decision to oust
Saddam Hussein, administration officials lumped his regime together with al
Qaeda, describing them as complementary halves of the same existential
threat. U.S. officials declared that America would act against such threats
when and wherever necessary, regardless of international law,
notwithstanding the doubts of allies, and without concern for the outrage of
those who might misunderstand U.S. actions. America, said the president, had
no choice but to go to war to prevent its enemies from obtaining more
weapons or growing more powerful. And so the United States duly went to war
against Iraq, despite having convinced only four members of the UN Security
Council to back the action.


Many observers see in the Bush administration's policies an admirable
demonstration of spine in confronting those who threaten the safety of the
American people. I would join the applause -- if only those policies were
safeguarding U.S. citizens more effectively.

But they are not. Moreover, I remain convinced that had Al Gore been elected
president, and had the attacks of September 11 still happened, the United
States and NATO would have gone to war in Afghanistan together, then
deployed forces all around that country and stayed to rebuild it. Democrats,
after all, confess support for nation building, and also believe in
finishing the jobs we start. I also believe the United States and NATO
together would have remained focused on fighting al Qaeda and would not have
pretended -- and certainly would not have been allowed to get away with
pretending -- that the ongoing failure to capture Osama bin Laden did not
matter. As for Saddam, I believe the Gore team would have read the
intelligence information about his activities differently and concluded that
a war against Iraq, although justifiable, was not essential in the short
term to protect U.S. security. A policy of containment would have been
sufficient while the administration pursued the criminals who had murdered
thousands on American soil.

The Bush administration's decision to broaden its focus from opposing al
Qaeda to invading Iraq and threatening military action against others has
had unintended and unwelcome consequences. According to the recent findings
of the Pew Global Attitudes Project, which surveyed 16,000 people in 20
countries and the Palestinian territories in May, the percentage of those
who have a favorable view of the United States has declined sharply (15
percentage points or more) in nations such as Brazil, France, Germany,
Jordan, Nigeria, Russia, and Turkey. In Indonesia, the world's most populous
Muslim-majority state, the view of the United States plunged from 75 percent
favorable to 83 percent negative between 2000 and 2003. Support for the
U.S.-led war on terror has declined in each of the countries listed above,
along with pivotal Pakistan, where it stands at a disheartening 20 percent.
The citizens of such NATO allies as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and
Italy rated Russia's Vladimir Putin more highly as a world leader than Bush.
Significant majorities of those interviewed in Russia and in 7 of 8
predominantly Muslim countries (Kuwait being the exception) claimed to be
somewhat or very worried about the potential threat to their societies posed
by the U.S. military. I never thought the day would come when the United
States would be feared by those it has neither the intention nor the cause
to harm.

The ouster of Saddam has indeed made the world, or at least Iraq, a better
place. But when the United States commits tens of billions of dollars to any
worthwhile project, that is the least it should be able to say. Even more
vital is progress toward mobilizing the kind of multinational,
multicultural, multifaceted, and multiyear initiative required to discredit,
disrupt, and dismantle al Qaeda and whatever splinter factions it may one
day spawn. That initiative will require a maximum degree of global
coordination and the integration of force, diplomacy, intelligence, and law.
It will require strong working relationships in regions where radical
ideologies thrive and pro-Western sentiments are scant. And above all, it
will require vigorous leadership from Islamic moderates, who must win the
struggle for control of their own faith. Unfortunately, the Iraq war and the
subsequent U.S. occupation of Baghdad -- the capital of Islam during that
faith's golden age -- have made more difficult the choices Islamic moderates
and others around the world must make.

The problem is that President Bush has reframed his initial question.
Instead of simply asking others to oppose al Qaeda, he now asks them to
oppose al Qaeda, support the invasion of an Arab country, and endorse the
doctrine of preemption -- all as part of a single package. Faced with this
choice, many who staunchly oppose al Qaeda have nevertheless decided that
they do not want to be "with" the United States, just as some Iraqis are now
making clear their opposition both to Saddam and to those who freed them
from him.

It is perhaps unsurprising to find attitudes of this sort widespread in the
Arab world. But it is more remarkable to find them taking hold in much of
Europe. President Bush ran for office pledging to be "a uniter, not a
divider," but as the numbers suggest, he has proved highly divisive among
the United States' closest friends. This was true even before September 11,
thanks to his administration's scorn for international measures such as the
Kyoto Protocol on climate change. But the divide deepened considerably in
the run-up to the second Gulf War, and it has moderated only slightly since.
Transatlantic friction, of course, is not new. But European unease with
American pretensions, coupled with American doubts about European resolve,
has created the potential for a long-term and dangerous rift.

Some commentators have tried to explain European opposition to the war as
being based on a slavish allegiance to multilateral organizations, a sense
of relative powerlessness, or simple jealousy of the United States. Such
analyses, however, miss the possibility that the American arguments simply
were not fully persuasive. I personally felt the war was justified on the
basis of Saddam's decade-long refusal to comply with UN Security Council
resolutions on WMD. But the administration's claim that Saddam posed an
imminent threat was poorly supported, as was its claim of his alleged
connections to al Qaeda. The war's opponents also raised a number of
questions that were not very ably answered regarding American plans for
postwar reconstruction and the possibility that the war would actually
enhance al Qaeda's appeal to potential recruits. It should be no wonder,
then, that there were disagreements about the wisdom of going to war. It
was, after all, a war of choice, not of necessity. And it was initiated by
Washington in a show of dominance prompted by a sense of vulnerability that
most Europeans do not fully share.

The concerns raised by European critics of the war were neither trivial nor
unanswerable. They should, however, have been answered not with exaggerated,
unproven allegations, but with a combination of patience and ample evidence.
By linking Baghdad to al Qaeda, the Bush administration sought to equate
opposition to fighting Iraq with gutlessness in confronting bin Laden. This
tactic, wildly unfair, contributed to a perception within the American
public that the French and the Germans were not simply quarrelsome but
traitorous. The real problem with the war critics, however, was not their
timidity toward al Qaeda but their record of having cut Saddam too much
slack in complying with UN Security Council resolutions over the last
decade. The French and the Russians were especially culpable in this regard;
their special pleading had, for years, given Saddam hope that he could
divide the council and get sanctions lifted without coming clean about his
weapons programs.

The best rebuttal Washington had to qualms about regime change was that
military force was the only way (in the absence of effective UN inspections)
to enforce the council's resolutions and thereby strengthen both the UN's
credibility and international law. Unfortunately, the Bush administration
made its eagerness to pull the plug on chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix
and his team transparent and billed its preemptive war doctrine as a
replacement for international law. As a consequence, much of the world saw
the invasion not as a way to put muscle into accepted rules, but rather as
the inauguration of a new set of rules, written and applied solely by the
United States.

It didn't have to be this way. After World War II, the United States was
also at a pinnacle of power, and also faced new and unprecedented dangers.
Yet the Truman administration still sat down and haggled with a flock of
less powerful countries about what the rules of the new international game
should be. The current administration, however, has created the impression
that it does not care what others think, and it has thereby set the world's
teeth on edge.

As I suggested above, responsibility for the transatlantic split does not
rest on the shoulders of the Bush administration alone. The French certainly
have not helped matters, by arguing, for example, that the very purpose of
European integration should be to create a counterweight to American power.
This constitutes de Villepin's choice "between two visions of the world," by
which he means a choice between a unipolar world in which Washington acts as
an unrestrained hegemon and a multipolar one in which American power is
offset and balanced by other forces, most particularly a united Europe. But
that argument is ludicrous. The idea that the power of the United States
endangers the interests of European democracies, rather than strengthens and
helps shield them, is utter nonsense. American power may harm French pride,
but it also helped roll back Hitler, save a blockaded Berlin, defeat
communism, and rid the Balkans of a rampaging Slobodan Milosevic.

The divisions that have arisen between the United States and many in Europe
can and must be narrowed. The challenge for Europe is to reject French
hyperventilating about American hyperpower and keep its perspective. The
United States has not lost its moorings, and the American people, with an
assist from Secretary of State Colin Powell and other voices of reason, will
not let the administration go too far.

The challenge for the United States, however, is to frame a choice for
Europe that most of Europe can embrace with dignity (if not always with
France). To help this mission along, NATO should be used in Afghanistan
(where it has finally gained a role, two years after September 11) and in
Iraq, where its umbrella might help relieve the pressure on hard-pressed
U.S. troops. The Bush administration should enthusiastically welcome
European efforts to develop an independent rapid reaction capability,
especially to conduct peacekeeping operations and respond to humanitarian
emergencies. When Europeans perform important jobs, as the Germans and the
Turks have done over the past year in Afghanistan, they deserve
congratulations, regardless of differences over less basic issues.
Furthermore, the Europeans should be invited, not directed, to work closely
with Washington on the toughest challenges, including that posed by Iran's
nuclear program. Perhaps above all, the Europeans should be treated as
adults. If they have differences with U.S. policy, those differences should
be considered seriously, not dismissed as signs of weakness (or age) or
tantamount to treason. Washington needs to recall that "allies" and
"satellites" are distinctly different things.


Perhaps one reason this administration does not feel the need to consult
much with others is its surety of vision. President Bush proclaimed last
March that the war in Iraq would prove a decisive first step toward the
transformation of the entire Middle East. The demonstration of U.S. resolve,
so his logic went, would cause terrorists and those who shelter and sponsor
them to tremble. According to the president, "the terrorist threat to
America and the world will be diminished the moment that Saddam Hussein is
disarmed." The creation of a democratic Iraq, to be achieved with the
assistance of a modest number of American troops for a relatively short
period of time, would send an instructive message to undemocratic Arab
regimes and provide a helpful model for a potential new Palestinian state.
Deprived of Iraqi payments to the families of suicide bombers, anti-Israeli
terrorists would soon close their bomb factories, and serious peace
negotiations could begin. Saddam's fall would also provide a useful lesson
to would-be WMD proliferators, both in faraway North Korea and in nearby

Whatever one might think of the likelihood that this vision will be
realized, it certainly qualifies as sweeping and well intentioned. Those who
suspect the war in Iraq was a grab for oil are mistaken; it was a grab for a
place in history. It deserves time now to play itself out. No one expected
every element to fall into place smoothly. Critics such as myself may carp
about bumps in the road and setbacks, but the problems will matter little if
momentum does build toward a truly democratic and stable Iraq, the weakening
of al Qaeda, an end to anti-Israeli terrorism, a halt to Iran's nuclear
ambitions, and movement toward accountable government within the Arab world.
These are the standards for success the Bush administration set for itself
in going to war with Iraq at the moment and under the circumstances it did.
The administration merits the courtesy of a reasonable period of time to
achieve those goals.

Whether time will in fact bring such successes depends on a series of
choices the United States can help frame. The most basic concerns the
legitimacy or illegitimacy of the use of terror as a means to achieve
political change.

To most Americans, the choice is simple. As the president has said, the use
of terror is something you are either for or against, and if you are against
it, certain actions must follow. Americans may find it absurd that decent
people could believe differently. But history shows that most people, not
exceptionally villainous themselves, can nonetheless be persuaded that evil
is not evil but rather something else. Romans saw glory in the pillage of
the Parthians; pious Catholics saw purity of faith in the Spanish
Inquisition; the United States' founding fathers saw economic necessity in
slavery; Bosnian Serbs saw justice for past wrongs in ethnic cleansing. Even
many Nazi collaborators and appeasers were sure they were doing the right
thing; after all, what could be more moral than "peace in our time"? In
1940, the poet Archibald MacLeish wrote, "Murder is not absolved of
immorality by committing murder. Murder is absolved of immorality by
bringing men to think that murder is not evil. This only the perversion of
the mind can bring about. And the perversion of the mind is only possible
when those who should be heard in its defense are silent." The lesson for us
now is that the longer the illusion of evil as somehow justified lasts --
whether buttressed by propaganda, ignorance, convenience, or fear -- the
harder it is to dispel. That is why we must take nothing for granted. We
must be relentless in shaping a global consensus that terrorism is fully,
fundamentally, and always wrong. No exceptions, no excuses.

I made this argument to Arab leaders many times when I was secretary of
state. Their responses, however, were rarely satisfactory. Most often, my
interlocutors would condemn terror unconditionally before commenting
parenthetically on the legitimacy of the struggle to free occupied Arab
lands. In other words, terrorism was despicable -- except where it was most
regularly practiced, namely in and against Israel. To this day, it remains
the majority Arab view that the militarily overmatched Palestinians are
justified in fighting Israelis with whatever means they have. On the issue
of terrorist financing, the answers I received were equally inadequate. When
I confronted one Saudi leader about payments to Hamas, he said they were
merited because Hamas, unlike Yasir Arafat and his government, actually
delivered social services to the Palestinian people. As for payments to the
families of suicide bombers, those were justified not as an enticement or a
reward but as a humanitarian gesture.

The attitude of Arab conservatives toward the terrorism practiced by al
Qaeda is another matter. Bin Laden is the cobra that turned on its master.
The teaching of Wahhabi Islam in Saudi Arabia's mosques, generously
supported by the royal family, has combined with a mix of other factors
(globalization, rising unemployment, and the U.S. military presence) to
create a global center for the dissemination of hatred. To the discomfort of
Saudi leaders, that hatred is now directed not only at the United States and
Israel, but also at them. The three explosions set off in Riyadh in May
killed 34 people, and hopefully destroyed the last set of lingering Saudi
illusions as well. The Saudis have since arrested more than a dozen
suspects, fired hundreds of radical clerics, and suspended a thousand more.
They also claim to have implemented new regulations designed to prevent the
flow of charitable contributions from Saudis overseas to terrorist groups.
At the same time, however, the country's leading liberal newspaper editor
recently lost his job for seeming to suggest there was a connection between
terror and what is being taught in radical mosques. As his firing suggests,
the fight for the collective heart and mind of Saudi Arabia has barely
begun. Crown Prince Abdullah and his successors must do more than simply
condemn extremism and terror; they must rip them out by roots that have
become deeply implanted in the kingdom's sandy soil.

Even if the Saudis succeed in such efforts, the roots of terror will
continue to throw up shoots elsewhere. The Iraqi imam quoted at the
beginning of this article did not explicitly advocate terror in his speech,
but he did use the kind of clash-of-civilizations terminology that tends to
make Samuel Huntington look retrospectively prescient. The "with us or
against us" choice put forward by President Bush has been pulled apart and
reassembled, with Islam taking the high ground and with alleged American
evil substituted for the real evil: terror. This bit of sophistry
illustrates the immense difficulty the United States will have trying to
categorize Iraqis on the basis of whether they are willing to cooperate
openly with the United States. Iraqis, and Arabs more generally, need the
space to design their own choices free from the diktats of authoritarian
leaders and notwithstanding the preferences of the United States (provided
those choices exclude violence, include tolerance, and are fair to women).
This will, I concede, be no simple matter to put into practice.

There are, however, grounds for hope. It is true that the Pew survey found
widespread antipathy toward American policies, especially in the Middle
East. But it also found widespread enthusiasm among Arab populations for
values closely associated with the United States, such as freedom of
expression, political pluralism, and equal treatment under the law. Solid
majorities in places such as Jordan, Kuwait, and Morocco now believe that
Western-style democracy would work well in their countries. And since
democracy is built from the bottom up, one step at a time, U.S. leaders have
an opportunity (risky as it is) to go around Arab governments to find values
in common with the much-vaunted "Arab street." Washington might, for
example, spend less time condemning what the Qatar-based independent al
Jazeera television network chooses to broadcast and more time acknowledging
the importance of its right to choose and encouraging other media outlets to
start up.

Although I was proud of the Clinton administration's foreign policy, and I
understand that democracy cannot be imposed from the outside, I regret not
having done more to push for liberalization within the Arab world. We did
nudge at times, supporting Kuwaiti leaders in their initiative to give women
the vote and encouraging the creation of representative bodies in Bahrain
and Jordan. But we did not make it a priority. Arab public opinion, after
all, can be rather scary. The same Pew survey that detected Arab enthusiasm
for democracy also found that the "world leader" in whom Palestinians have
the most confidence is Osama bin Laden. Who wants to give people with such
opinions the right to choose their own leaders? The answer is us: we should
do everything possible to see that they are given that right.

For years, Arab populations have received a distorted message from
Washington: that the United States stands for democracy, freedom, and human
rights everywhere except in the Middle East and for everyone except the
Arabs. The time has come to erase that perception and the reality that too
often lies behind it. Democracy will not end terrorism in the Arab world,
but neither will it nourish it, as despotism does. Bin Laden's appeal is
based on what he symbolizes: defiance. In fact, he offers nothing except
death and destruction, and Muslim majorities will reject this if they are
offered real alternatives.

Indeed, democratization is the most intriguing part of the administration's
gamble in Iraq. The creation of a stable and united Iraqi democracy would be
a tremendous accomplishment, with beneficial repercussions in other Arab
societies. But was invading Iraq the right way to start building democratic
momentum in the Arab world? The answer will depend on how divided Iraq
remains, and how dicey the security situation becomes. U.S. soldiers will
have a hard time democratizing Iraq if they are forced to remain behind
walls and inside tanks. And U.S. officials will lack credibility preaching
the virtues of freedom if they feel compelled to censor broadcasts, search
houses, ban political parties, and repeatedly reject Iraqi demands for more
complete self-rule. The Bush administration was determined to retain for
itself the authority to supervise every aspect of Iraq's postwar transition.
History will judge whether that was a wise decision, but I am reminded in
this context of one of "Rumsfeld's Rules," the Pentagon chief's guide for
wise public policy: "It is easier to get into something than to get out of


A second, concurrent test of Arab democratization is occurring within the
Palestinian Authority, where the Bush administration deserves credit for
pushing for reform of Palestinian institutions. The selection of Prime
Minister Mahmoud Abbas and the appointment of Finance Minister Salam Fayyad
are necessary steps toward democracy and sound governance. The creation of
political freedom is essential to allow the emergence of a new generation of
Palestinian leaders, comfortable with democratic ways. At the same time,
democracy -- if it does come -- is unlikely to produce a Palestinian
government willing to make peace on terms Israelis will accept, or at least
not for many years. The Pew survey found that 80 percent of Palestinians do
not believe they can realize their rights while coexisting with an Israeli
state. That doubt is surely justified if Palestinian rights are thought to
include the recovery of all lands taken during the 1967 war, full
sovereignty over al-Haram al-Sharif (the Temple Mount), and the right of
Palestinian refugees to return to their pre-1948 homes. Unless those demands
are modified, or the issues somehow sidestepped, the journey to a Middle
East peace will stretch far beyond the boundaries envisioned in the current
road map.

Making progress will therefore require new thinking on both sides. The
Israelis must help Abbas to succeed in a way they never did with Arafat.
This will mean recognizing the elementary fact that Abbas is accountable to
the Palestinians, not to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon or Bush. Unless
the new Palestinian regime is able to show greater results than Arafat
delivered, Abbas will soon find himself a footnote to history.

The Palestinians, meanwhile, must reject terror -- not because the United
States or other outsiders want them to, but because terror, far more than
Israel, is the enemy of the Palestinian people. It is destructive not only
of the Palestinian economy and Palestinian territorial hopes, but of the
people's very soul. Terror is a choice, and when people have the power to
choose, they have the power to change. The Bush administration, European
governments, the Arab world, and Palestinian moderates must all work to
create a Palestinian consensus that excludes and excoriates terror. As long
as murderers are hailed as martyrs, there can be no real peace, nor any
Palestinian state worthy of the name.

Making progress will therefore require new thinking on both sides. The
Israelis must help Abbas to succeed in a way they never did with Arafat.
This will mean recognizing the elementary fact that Abbas is accountable to
the Palestinians, not to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon or Bush. Unless
the new Palestinian regime is able to show greater results than Arafat
delivered, Abbas will soon find himself a footnote to history.

The Palestinians, meanwhile, must reject terror -- not because the United
States or other outsiders want them to, but because terror, far more than
Israel, is the enemy of the Palestinian people. It is destructive not only
of the Palestinian economy and Palestinian territorial hopes, but of the
people's very soul. Terror is a choice, and when people have the power to
choose, they have the power to change. The Bush administration, European
governments, the Arab world, and Palestinian moderates must all work to
create a Palestinian consensus that excludes and excoriates terror. As long
as murderers are hailed as martyrs, there can be no real peace, nor any
Palestinian state worthy of the name.

The Israelis, too, must be wary of the impact of their own policies of
aggressive self-defense. Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir once said
that she blamed Arabs less for killing Israelis than for making it necessary
for Israelis to kill. Israel has a right to protect itself against terror
and, at times, to take preemptive action. But it should never forget that it
is destined to live next door to the Palestinians forever, sharing the same
land. There is no military solution to that.


After September 11, President Bush asked the world to stand with the United
States against the terrorists who had attacked the country. In the years
since, however, he has broadened that request and altered its tone. No
longer is Bush asking the world to join a common struggle; instead, he is
demanding that it follow along as the United States wages its own battle
against threats the president has defined. September 11 proved, Bush has
said, that the institutions, alliances, and rules of the past are no longer
adequate to protect the American people. Terrorists who cannot be deterred
are on the loose. If they gain access to WMD, unspeakable horrors will
ensue. And so the United States, Bush has warned, will act when and where it
perceives an actual, possible, or potential connection between terrorists
and dangerous technology. Those who join it will be rewarded. Those who do
not will be scorned, and worse.

I credit Bush for his ambition and for taking political risks he did not
have to take. I harbor no doubts about his sincerity. I agree with him that
the United States cannot be complacent. I share his assessment of the need
not simply to oppose but also to defeat the declared enemies of the country.
For the good of the United States, I hope his policies succeed. But I am
left with the feeling that he has needlessly placed obstacles in his own

After all, the attacks of September 11 were dramatic and shocking, but
hardly the first time this country has realized the extreme danger it will
face if it allows WMD to fall into the wrong hands. President Bill Clinton
warned regularly of that very thing. One of his earliest accomplishments was
to persuade Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus to give up their nuclear
weapons. He promoted the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program
tirelessly, spending American money to secure nuclear materials and
expertise throughout the former Soviet Union. Clinton made himself an expert
on the threat of a biological weapons attack on U.S. soil. He reorganized
the National Security Council to broaden and intensify the fight against
terrorism months before the August 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in
Kenya and Tanzania brought global notoriety to bin Laden. Year after year,
Clinton traveled to the UN in New York to emphasize two themes: the
importance of halting WMD proliferation and the need for nations to unite in
eliminating terrorist sanctuaries and funding. But President Clinton
differed from his successor in that he believed the United States' ability
to beat the country's enemies would be strengthened if NATO were strong and
united, UN agencies such as the International Atomic Energy Agency were
enhanced, and America's friends around the world were consulted and
respected. Clinton saw fighting terror as a team enterprise, not a solo act.

September 11 showed that what the United States had been doing to identify
and defeat al Qaeda was not enough. It did not, however, discredit the
premise that to defeat al Qaeda, Americans need the active help and
cooperation of other countries.

The Bush administration has chosen to take the problem of al Qaeda and meld
it with the challenge of halting WMD proliferation -- two issues that
overlap but are by no means identical in the military, political, and
technical issues they raise. Defeating al Qaeda would not end the problem of
proliferation; al Qaeda is deadly even without nuclear, chemical, and
biological arms. Meanwhile, the nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran are
driven by nationalism, not terrorism, and must be dealt with primarily on
that basis. September 11, the administration's eureka moment, caused it to
lump together terrorists and rogue regimes and to come up with a
prescription for fighting them -- namely, preemption -- that frightens and
divides the world at precisely the moment U.S. security depends on bringing
people together.

I believe a different approach, focused more sharply and insistently on al
Qaeda, with the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, and North Korea treated vigorously
but separately, might have yielded a better result. Such an approach would,
I believe, have enabled Bush to formulate a much clearer choice on the core
issue of terror for allies in Europe and for the most critical audience of
all: the sometimes silent majority of Muslims in the Middle East and around
the world. The seriousness of that choice would have been backed under this
scenario by Washington's own seriousness in Afghanistan, which would have
remained the focus of U.S. nation-building efforts. Rather than flaunting
American power, the U.S. government would have stressed the collective power
of a world united in asserting that terrorism is wrong, just as genocide,
apartheid, and slavery are wrong. U.S. efforts would have been directed not
simply at the apprehension of al Qaeda suspects, but also at stopping the
teaching of hate, the glorification of murder, and the endless manufacture
of lies about the West that continues to this day in much of the Middle East
and South Asia. Reinforced by a united Europe, American officials would have
pressed over time for the gradual opening of Arab political and economic
systems and for support for the democratic changes that surveys suggest most
Arabs want. Washington would also have shown its respect for the value of
every human life by staying engaged on a daily basis in the uphill struggle
to halt killing on both sides in the strife-torn Middle East.

By complicating its own choice, the administration has instead complicated
the choices faced by others, divided Europe, and played into the hands of
extremists who would like nothing better than to make the clash of
civilizations the defining struggle of our age.

It is late, but not too late, for the Bush administration to adjust its
course. It has already shed some of its more optimistic illusions about
Iraq, pledged presidential involvement in the Middle East, mended some
fences with Europe, and reduced the level of self-congratulation in its
official pronouncements.

It would be helpful now if the doctrine of preemption were to disappear
quietly from the U.S. national security lexicon and be returned to reserve
status. It is imperative, as well, that the missions in Afghanistan and Iraq
actually be completed before victory is once again declared. To that end,
perhaps administration officials will recognize that although none of the
existing international institutions can do everything, each can do
something. Perhaps the United States' current leaders will even put aside
their reflexive disdain for all things Clintonian and consider the model of
Kosovo. There, a NATO-led peacekeeping force, with Russian participation and
assisted by a new civilian police force, is providing security for
administrators from the United Nations, the European Union, and the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who are working with
local parties to prepare a democratic transition. Not only is this setup
operating fairly well, it has also given everyone involved a sense of
mission and a stake in success. It takes patience to work with allies and to
bring out the best in international organizations. But doing so also
delivers great benefits: costs are shared, burdens distributed, legitimacy
enhanced, diverse talents engaged. And everyone joins in wanting success.

Finally, the administration should do more of what President Bush did during
his recent, welcome trip to Africa -- play to the United States' true
strengths. The idea that Americans -- residents of the most powerful land in
history -- are now truly living in fear of bin Laden has failed to impress
the majority of people around the globe, whose concerns about terrorism are
dwarfed by the challenge they face in simply staying alive despite the
ever-present perils of poverty, hunger, and disease. The United States'
cause would therefore be heard more clearly and listened to more closely if
the administration substituted bridges for bluster and spoke more often of
choices relevant to the day-to-day lives of more of the world's people. That
means spelling out consistently not only what Americans are against, but
also what they are for, and making clear that this includes helping people
everywhere live richer, freer, and longer lives.

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