Bush must address new world disorder
As the Bush administration gathers evidence, support and enthusiasm for its response to what amounted to a "declaration of war" Tuesday, it is clear that the United States finds itself in a new, strategically disordered world.
Despite the advance of globalization, George Bush pere's bold proclamation of a "new world order" more than a decade ago is already a relic.
America may have won the Cold War, and just completed a decade of unparalleled prosperity. But it clearly now lives in a much more dangerous and complicated world than most Americans ever imagined.
Amid much talk of swashbuckling American retaliation supported by a new global coalition, it is still far from clear how President Bush fils will react to this new global reality. While he speaks of lining up the sort of international coalition that his father took to the Gulf War, his prospective allies, while genuine in their sympathy, will wonder to what extent their own interests are being served.
True, they recognize that terrorism affects them as well. Indeed, they long ago reacted far more effectively to it than have we. One need only travel through airports in Berlin, Tokyo or Tel Aviv to see how late we come to this realization.
Have the events of Tuesday, and the need for international support, convinced Bush of the folly of the unilateral approach of his first days in office? Or is he now simply demanding that the rest of the world decide whether it's with us or against us as we continue to plot our own course?
Secretary of State Colin Powell's press conference yesterday hinted strongly at the shape of revenge to be dished up soon:
"We will go after that group, that network, and those who have harbored, supported and aided that network, to rip the network up," he said. "And when we're through with that network, we will continue with a global assault against terrorism in general."
Terrorism in general, he added pointedly, includes Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, "one of the leading terrorists on the face of the Earth."
Powell did not hint whether this campaign will be measured, that is, a surgical operation aimed at terrorist cells, or wholesale bombing or even invasion of countries like Afghanistan, which harbors the known terrorist Osama bin Laden, or Iraq.
Meanwhile, the unpleasant reality lingers that a military solution is almost sure to encourage more, not less, fanatic terrorism. The ultimate solution slow, painstaking and not immediately gratifying is to find ways to convince those who hate us that we honestly understand their human aspirations and have no desire to squash them.
It's doubtful that many Americans are in the mood to absorb that reality in the heat of this moment. But it's a reality that must not be lost on Bush.