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February 2002

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EDITORIAL

 

The “War on Terrorism” Expands

 

The "rogue states" of Iraq, Iran and North Korea, were downgraded to “states of concern” during Clinton’s presidency. Now President Bush - seeking to broaden his war on terrorism - has dubbed them "an axis of evil", in his State of the Union message.


Suresh Jaura

 

The U.S. was the leading superpower, during the half-century up to the middle of the World War II. It's been the world's only superpower since the fall of communism and the end of the Soviet Union, which led to the end of the Cold War.

 

Francis Fukuyama, deputy director of the State Department's policy planning staff and former analyst at the RAND Corporation, wrote an article titled The End of History, in The National Interest (Summer 1989 issue) which was followed in 1992, by his book of the same title.

 

Fukuyama wrote, “the triumph of the West, of the Western idea, is evident first of all in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism… What we may be witnessing in not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalisation of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government…But there are powerful reasons for believing that it is the ideal that will govern the material world in the long run.”

 

As the ethnic conflicts and tribal wars that burst out since the end of the Cold War have proved there has been no end of history and the world has not “settled down permanently to become a kind of giant Switzerland”, as Richard Gwyn wrote in the Toronto Star.

 

During the Cold War, there was the clash between democratic capitalism and communism. Since September 11, 2001, the encounter is “between modernity and the past and between the world's rich and the world's poor (often, the only weapon those poor have to wield against us is terrorism)”, writes Richard Gwyn.

 

“Terrorist” attacks have become a new kind of war and the U.S. is all set to fight this war, with its on War on Terrorism.  Following its victory in Afghanistan (though there seems to be no peace, only that the Taleban have lost power and the western-backed government is ruling Kabul), with the help of superb airpower, the help of local militia (the Northern Alliance) and a coalition of convenience, the US has become more confident.

 

At the start of war on Afghanistan, the U.S. was on the verge of recognising the Palestinian state. There was pressure on Israel to keep quiet. Now it seems that Bush has given Israel the green light to do virtually what it wants militarily in the West Bank and Gaza, and has added Palestinian terrorist organizations like Hamas to his hit list.

 

The "rogue states" of Iraq, Iran and North Korea, were downgraded to “states of concern” during Clinton’s presidency. Now President Bush - seeking to broaden his war on terrorism - has dubbed them "an axis of evil", in his State of the Union message.

 

According to the US National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, the governments of Iran, Iraq and North Korea have now been "put on notice".

 

"It was a virtual declaration of war," Ivo Daalder, a strategic analyst at the Brookings Institution, said, adding that little room for maneuver remained. "It enunciated a new doctrine, which says that people we declare bad, with weapons we declare bad, are basically the same as terrorists."

 

“By declaring a new ‘Axis of Evil’ comprising brutal dictatorships with far-advanced programs to build weapons of mass destruction, Bush has charted the course of an expansive new American foreign policy, a paradigm shift equal to the inauguration of anti-Communist containment more than a half century ago. He has taken the war on terrorism beyond a police action to round up the perpetrators of the September 11 attack, and transformed it into a campaign to uproot dangerous tyrannies and encourage democracy, making the world much safer for free peoples,” write Robert Kagan and William Kristol, in an article titled The Bush Era, in the Weekly Standard.

 

Since Ronald Reagan declared Soviet Union an “evil empire” and started on a policy of unilateral arms buildup and ideological confrontation, Bush is the first American president to make such a bold declaration.

 

Kurt Campbell, a senior analyst at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said the statement appeared to signal a change of course in the counter-terrorist campaign because the three states have little in common and pose different dangers.

 

The New York Times editorial page, instantly expressed alarm and discomfort that "the application of power and intimidation has returned to the forefront of American foreign policy."

 

The events of 11 September did change the world. A new form of terrorism has emerged intent upon killing people on a huge scale. The fact that this terrorism could one day be combined with biological, chemical or even nuclear weapons underscores American concerns.

 

Nato gave the US its full support following the 11 September attacks, invoking Article Five of its founding treaty for the first time, which says an attack on one member is an attack on all. 

 

There is growing concern in Europe that war on terrorism may spread in terms of geography and nature and the Bush administration's firm rhetoric could be a prelude to unilateral military action.

 

Nato's Secretary-General Lord Robertson has warned the US it will have to provide evidence to justify any action against Iran, Iraq and North Korea.

 

Lord Robertson's comments at the World Economic Forum in New York reflect Nato unease at expanding the war on terror.

 

The European Union also has a policy of engagement with the authorities in Tehran, which the BBC's Middle East analyst Roger Hardy says they have no intention of abandoning.

 

The American attitude is not necessarily in line with those of its allies. 

 

The inclusion of North Korea has taken observers aback in Washington, because the South Korean government of Kim Dae-jung was preparing a new diplomatic initiative and looking for US support. 

 

The US Central Intelligence Agency has released a report saying that North Korea sold numerous missiles to the Middle East and other areas of tension last year. 

 

According to the report, the hard-line communist state is using the missile trade to fund its nuclear weapons programme. 

 

Bush did hold out the prospect of talks with North Korea, saying the US would be "more than happy to enter into a dialogue" if the country made a clear statement of its peaceful intentions.

 

Iran has been the subject of recent British diplomatic approaches. Iran's inclusion was more surprising. Tehran helped the US over Afghanistan, although ties have again soured. Washington accused Tehran of fomenting unrest in western Afghanistan, sheltering al-Qaida fugitives and channeling arms to the Palestinians. 

 

The state department has hitherto seen these acts as the work of hardliners, and has tried to build parallel ties with moderates. However Bush dropped any such distinction in his address.

 

Another possible explanation for the appearance of Iran and North Korea on the list is that both have developed ballistic missiles. Both have been cited before as the main justification for pursuing the missile defence project, known as "Son of Star Wars", and by focusing attention on them once more, Bush implied that the missile shield was still central to national security.

 

A debate is still underway within the Bush administration over the best way to confront Saddam Hussein. 

 

The tone of Bush's address appeared to side with Pentagon hawks who argue that Iraq's continued development of weapons of mass destruction made the issue an urgent one, and that the policy of containment was not working. 

 

All this time, North Korea, was not mentioned. Has North Korea been included to avoid an impression that America is targeting Muslims in its “War on Terrorism”.

 

Is Iraq the real target to finish off Saddam Hussain- something that was left undone at the end of the Gulf War?

 

An extract from the address: 

 

‘North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens. 

 

‘Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom.

 

'Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax and nerve gas and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens - leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. 

 

‘By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. 'They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.’

 

- Suresh Jaura
Publisher & Managing Editor