More than a reformulation of U.S. goals in Iraq is now needed, however. The persistent reluctance of the administration to confront the political background of the terrorist menace has reinforced public sympathy among Muslims for the terrorists.
It is a self-delusion for Americans to be told that the terrorists are motivated mainly by an abstract "hatred of freedom" and that their acts are a reflection of a profound cultural hostility. If that were so, Stockholm or Rio de Janeiro would be as much at risk as New York.
Yet in addition to New Yorkers, the principal victims of serious terrorist attacks have been Australians in Bali, Spaniards in Madrid, Israelis in Tel Aviv, Egyptians in the Sinai and Britons in London. There is an obvious political thread connecting these events: The targets are America's allies and client states in the deepening U.S. military intervention in the Middle East.
Terrorists are not born but shaped by events, experiences, impressions, hatreds, ethnic myths, historical memories, religious fanaticism and deliberate brainwashing. They are also shaped by images of what they see on television, and especially by their feelings of outrage at what they perceive to be a brutalizing denigration of their religious kin's dignity by heavily armed foreigners. An intense political hatred for America, Britain and Israel is drawing recruits for terrorism not only from the Middle East but from as far away as Ethiopia, Morocco, Pakistan, Indonesia and even the Caribbean....
In a very real sense, during the last four years, the Bush team has thus been dangerously undercutting America's seemingly secure perch on top of the global totem pole by transforming a manageable, though serious, challenge largely of regional origin into an international debacle.
To be sure, since America is extraordinarily powerful and rich, it can afford, yet for a while, even a policy articulated with rhetorical excess and pursued with historical blindness. But in the process America is likely to become isolated in a hostile world, increasingly vulnerable to terrorist acts and less and less able to exercise a constructive global influence.
Flaying away with a stick at a hornets' nest while loudly proclaiming "I will stay the course" is an exercise in catastrophic leadership.
But it need not be so. A real course correction is still possible, and it could start soon with a modest and common-sense initiative by the president to engage the Democratic congressional leadership in a serious effort to shape a bipartisan foreign policy for an increasingly divided and troubled nation.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Zbigniew Brzezinski describes George Bush's legacy in apocalyptic terms. It is debatable whether the final historical verdict will be as dire as Bresesinski implies, is no doubt correction in his fundamental assessment:
Posted by Nils at 10/13/2005 01:54:00 PM