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The End of Forbearance

The New American Attitude.

by Jonathan Wilson
March 20, 2003

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The End of Forbearance_Jonathan Wilson-The New American Attitude. I do not believe that the team of Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld and Rice are prosecuting a successful foreign policy. I had high hopes for such a team in 2000. Now, after two years and two months, the United States has conducted an isolating rather than an engaging foreign policy. We have messed up relations with foes and friends alike.

I am disappointed in the administration. I am disappointed that, instead of taking control of American foreign policy after eight rudderless years, this team has steered the ship of state directly onto the rocks.

The debacle over Iraq at the United Nations is a back-lash. It is the world saying to the United States that the humility Bush had promised as a candidate has not been shown; it is the world saying to the United States that when NATO invokes its articles in solidarity with the US in September 2001, it expects to be appreciated and deployed in a productive partnership in a war against terrorists.

However, the United Nations debacle is still a debacle. It is not the US that is being subverted, as much as it is the UN. By threatening to veto any new resolution, a resolution that is not even legally necessary, and by Annan's own equivocation, the UN is admitting that it does not expect its rulings to be binding on the international community. Rogue states can continue to be rogues, treaties and terms of cease-fire may be violated at will.

As an American, I am feeling the acute paradox of living with a government that has pursued a thoroughly unjustified unilateralism since coming into office, and is now feeling the back-lash on an issue in which the American position is both legally and morally justified.

How did the United States come to such a place? The reason is that Americans have run out of patience. Since President Carter caved to the demands of Iranian Jihadists in 1980, terrorism has been viewed as a legitimate tool of diplomacy by jihadists. Some of these jihadists have not held legitimate power. Some have, such as the Ayatollah of Iran. Many of these jihadists have been funded by legitimate power structures, such as Saudi Arabia's support of Mosque schools that invect anti-American and anti-Israeli rancor.

Americans are tired of seeing planes hijacked or blown up in mid-flight. Americans are tired of watching our flags being burned. Americans are upset that the nations that came into existence at the sunset of colonialism--whether of Turk or English or French or Russian dominance--cry bloody murder at one strip of territory set aside for Jews, a strip no larger than Vermont, a strip dwarfed by the partitions that made Jordan independent from colonial rule, along with Syria, and Kuwait, and Iraq, and Pakistan.

As an American, I can tell you that I am also sick and tired that the Muslim World props up its most monstrous and murderous regimes. Khadafi still rules Libya. Arafat was given the international legitimacy of a Nobel Peace Prize. Hussein must be protected, and mullahs all over the Muslim world are calling for war against America in Saddam Hussein's defense.

One reason that France and Russia and others have no stomach for going after Hussein, is that they do not trust the administration that will replace him. The reason Israel is kept on a short leash is that everyone is afraid that Arafat will be replaced by someone worse.

If a people or a faith that numbers so many cannot be trusted to produce better leaders than Arafat, Khadafi, and Hussein, what does that say? It is their shame.

I refuse to believe that a billion people in our world, with such a proud heritage, from whom we have inherited modern practices in medicine and hygeine and modern mathematical frameworks, can have become so stupid and corrupt that Saddam Hussein represents their best qualities.

I believe that Arafat's removal along with Saddam's removal would go a long way to bringing stability and peace to the peace-loving people of a peace-teaching faith. However, only history can judgme whether I am naive.

In the mean-time, the United States is tired of fighting back with one hand tied. We are bringing our resources to bear. This may inflame the jihad emotionally, but it will set the jihad back strategically. By taking Iraq down the US is redefining the terms and the targets of jihad; the US is taking the initiative in the terrorist jihad called by clerics 25 years ago.

Our new attitude has meant isolation and aggressive tactics. I cannot say, however, that I blame us or our administration. One reason is that strategic initiative is important both militarily and diplomatically. The second reason is that if new jihadists are recruited, all I can say is that I have watched one flag too many set on fire. The tired and angry American in me says that if jihadists are so stupid as to want to fight, then let them fight on our terms.

As an idealistic and generous American, however, I am disappointed that I feel this way. I had hoped my President and his cabinet would rise above what I felt. Again, I may have been naive, but it seems to me that most Americans have expected the president and administration to rise above popular sentiment, at least most of the time, on the world stage.

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Puddleglum from Southern Ettinsmoor, Narnia writes:
March 26, 2003
Sadly, I agree with your sentiment. The US seems to be in the same position as John Wayne's character John Books in the 1976 movie THE SHOOTIST.

Books would love nothing more than to set his guns down and retire to a quiet life, but his reputation as a gunfighter precedes him. So out of the woodwork come the riff-raff looking to carve their own reputation out of Books' hide. The townpeople don't want any gunfighters at all because they pretentiously believe that they are above that sort of behavior. But, in the end, humans will be nothing more than humans and Books has to kill. If he didn't, the gunfighter wanna-bes only would have killed someone else.

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