A Changed World

Friday, April 30, 2004

We are at one of those special moments in history. The topic of the day is Iraq and weapons not accounted for, but the implications of action in Iraq for the world and for our future go far beyond this immediate case. So I will put Iraq into context, give my view of developments there, and then set out a few of the important implications, including those for Israeli-Palestinian issues and for our own dangerous dependence on imported oil.

The Problem of Terrorism

We have struggled with terrorism for a long time. In the Reagan administration, I was a hawk on the subject. I said terrorism is a big problem, a different problem, and we have to take forceful action against it. Fortunately, Ronald Reagan agreed with me, but not many others did. (Don Rumsfeld was an outspoken exception.) I argued long and hard against those who said that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” Some people are still saying this; they are wrong, dreadfully wrong.

In those days we focused on how to defend against terrorism. We reinforced our embassies and increased our intelligence effort. We thought we made some progress. We established the legal basis for holding states responsible for using terrorists to attack Americans anywhere. Through intelligence, we did abort many potential terrorist acts. But we didn’t really understand what motivated the terrorists or what they were out to do.

In the 1990s, the problem began to appear even more menacing. Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda were well known; but the nature of the terrorist threat was not yet comprehended, and our efforts to combat it were ineffective. Diplomacy without much force was tried. Terrorism was regarded as a law enforcement problem and terrorists as criminals. Some were arrested and put on trial. Early last year, a judge finally allowed the verdict to stand for one of those convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. It took 10 years! Terrorism is not a matter that can be left just to law enforcement, with its deliberative process, built-in delays, and safeguards that may let prisoners go free on procedural grounds.

Today, looking back on the past quarter century of terrorism, we can see that it is the method of choice of an extensive, internationally connected ideological movement dedicated to the destruction of our international system of cooperation and progress. We can see that the 1981 assassination of President Sadat, the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the 2001 destruction of the Twin Towers, and scores of other terrorist attacks were carried out by one part or another of this movement. And the movement is connected to states that develop awesome weaponry—with some of it, or expertise, for sale.

What Should We Do?

First and foremost, shore up the state system.

The world has worked for three centuries with the sovereign state as the basic operating entity, presumably accountable to its citizens and responsible for their well-being. In this system, states also interact with one another—bilaterally or multilaterally—to accomplish ends that transcend their borders. They create international organizations to serve their ends, not govern them.

Increasingly, the state system has been eroding. Terrorists have exploited this weakness by burrowing into the state system in order to attack it. As the state system weakens, no replacement in sight can perform the essential functions of establishing an orderly and lawful society, protecting essential freedoms, providing a framework for fruitful economic activity, contributing to effective international cooperation, and providing for the common defense.

I see our great task as restoring the vitality of the state system within the framework of a world of opportunity and with aspirations for a world of states that recognize accountability for human freedom and dignity.

All established states should stand up to their responsibilities in the fight against terror, our common enemy, by being a helpful partner in economic and political development, and taking care that international organizations work for their member states, not the other way around. When they do, they deserve respect and help to make them work successfully.

Then we need to remind ourselves and our partners of the Great Seal of our Republic, which carries a message as clear and relevant to these times as to our early days. The central figure is an eagle holding in one talon an olive branch and in the other, 13 arrows. As President Harry Truman insisted at the end of World War II, the eagle will always face the olive branch to show that the United States will always seek peace. But the eagle will forever hold onto the arrows to show that, to be effective in seeking peace, you must have strength and the willingness to use it.

Strength and diplomacy go together. They are not alternatives; they are complements. As President Bush put it in his State of the Union address,

Nine months of intense negotiations involving the United States and Great Britain succeeded with Libya, while 12 years of diplomacy with Iraq did not. And one reason is clear: For diplomacy to be effective, words must be credible, and no one can now doubt the word of America.

The civilized world has a common stake in defeating the terrorists. We now call this what it is: a war on terrorism. In war, you have to act on both offense and defense. You have to hit the enemy before the enemy hits you. The diplomacy of incentives, containment, deterrence, and prevention is all made more effective by the demonstrated possibility of forceful preemption. Diplomacy and strength must work together on a grand and strategic scale and on an operational and tactical level. But if you deny yourself the option of forceful preemption, you diminish the effectiveness of your diplomatic moves. And, with the consequences of a terrorist attack as hideous as they are, the United States must be ready to preempt identified threats, not at the last moment, when an attack is imminent and more difficult to stop, but before the terrorist gets in position to do irreparable harm.

Over the last decade we have seen large areas of the world where there is no longer any state authority at all, an ideal environment in which terrorists can plan and train. In the early 1990s we came to realize the significance of a “failed state.” Earlier, people allowed themselves to think that, for example, an African colony could gain its independence, be admitted to the United Nations as a member state, and thereafter remain a sovereign state. Then came Somalia. All government disappeared—no more sovereignty, no more state. The same was true in Afghanistan. And who took over? Islamic extremists, who soon made it clear that they regarded the concept of the state as an abomination. To them, the very idea of the “state” was un-Islamic. They talked about reviving traditional forms of pan-Islamic rule with no place for the state. They were fundamentally, and violently, opposed to the way the world works, to the international state system.

The United States launched a military campaign to eliminate the Taliban and Al Qaeda’s rule over Afghanistan. Now we and our allies are trying to help Afghanistan become a true state again and a viable member of the international state system. Yet there are many other parts of the world where state authority has collapsed or, within some states, large areas where the state’s authority does not operate.

That’s one area of danger: places where the state has vanished. A second area of danger is found in places where the state has been taken over by criminals, gangsters, or warlords. Saddam Hussein was one example. Kim Jong Il of North Korea is another.

They seize control of state power and use that power to enhance their wealth, consolidate their rule, and develop their weaponry. As they do this, violating the laws and principles of the international system, they at the same time claim its privileges and immunities, such as the principle of nonintervention in the internal affairs of a legitimate sovereign state. For decades these thugs have gotten away with it. And the leading nations of the world have let them get away with it.

This is why the case of Saddam Hussein and Iraq is so significant. Let me just stay on this point for a moment. Because of its importance, a careful review is in order.

The War against Iraq Was Necessary

After Saddam Hussein consolidated power, he started a war against one of his neighbors, Iran, and in the course of that war he committed war crimes, including the use of chemical weapons, even against his own people.

About 10 years later he started another war against another one of his neighbors, Kuwait. In the course of doing so, he committed war crimes. He took hostages. He launched missiles against a third and then a fourth country in the region.

That war was unique in modern times because Saddam totally eradicated another state and turned it into “Province 19” of Iraq. The aggressors in wars might typically seize some territory or occupy the defeated country or install a puppet regime, but Saddam sought to wipe out Kuwait, to erase it from the map of the world.

That got the world’s attention. That’s why, at the United Nations, the votes were wholly in favor of a U.S.-led military operation—Desert Storm—to throw Saddam out of Kuwait and to restore Kuwait to its place as a legitimate state in the international system. There was virtually universal recognition that those responsible for the international system of states could not let a state simply be rubbed out, as Saddam had done to Kuwait.

When Saddam was defeated, in 1991, a cease-fire was put in place. Then the U.N. Security Council decided that, in order to prevent Saddam from continuing to start wars and commit crimes against his own people, he must give up his arsenal of “weapons of mass destruction.”

Recall the way it was to work. If Saddam cooperated with U.N. inspectors, produced his weapons, and facilitated their destruction, then the cease-fire would be transformed into a peace agreement, ending the state of war between the international system and Iraq. But if Saddam did not cooperate, and materially breached his obligations regarding his weapons of mass destruction, then the original U.N. Security Council authorization for the use of “all necessary force” against Iraq—an authorization that at the end of Desert Storm had been suspended but not canceled—would be reactivated and Saddam would face another round of the U.S.-led military action against him. Saddam agreed to this arrangement.

In the early 1990s, U.N. inspectors found plenty of material in the category of weapons of mass destruction and dismantled a lot of them. They kept on finding such weapons, but as the presence of force declined, Saddam’s cooperation declined. He began to play games and to obstruct and undermine the inspection effort.

By 1998 the situation was untenable. Saddam had made inspections impossible. President Clinton, in February 1998, declared that Saddam would have to comply with the U.N. resolutions or face American military force. U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan flew to Baghdad and returned with a new promise of cooperation from Saddam. But Saddam did not cooperate. The U.S. Congress then passed the Iraq Liberation Act by a vote of 360 to 38 in the House of Representatives; the Senate gave its unanimous consent. Signed into law on October 31, H.R. 4655 supported the renewed use of force against Saddam with the objective of changing the regime. By this time Saddam had openly and utterly rejected the inspections and the U.N. Security Council resolutions.

In November 1998 the Security Council passed a resolution declaring Saddam to be in “flagrant violation” of all the U.N. resolutions going back to 1991. That meant that the cease-fire was terminated and that the original authorization for the use of force against Saddam was reactivated. President Clinton ordered American forces into action in December 1998.

But the U.S. military operation was called off after only four days—apparently because President Clinton did not feel able to lead the country into war at a time when he was facing impeachment.

So inspections stopped. The United States ceased to take the lead. But the inspectors reported that, as of the end of 1998, Saddam possessed major quantities of weapons of mass destruction across a range of categories, particularly in chemical and biological weapons, and the means of delivering them by missiles. All the intelligence services of the world agreed on this.

From that time until late 2002, Saddam was left undisturbed to do what he wished with this arsenal of weapons. The international system had given up its ability to monitor and deal with this threat. All through the years between 1998 and 2002, Saddam continued to rule Iraq as a rogue state.

President Bush made it clear by 2002, against the background of 9/11, that Saddam must be brought into compliance. It was obvious that the world could not leave this situation as it was. The United States made the decision to continue to work within the scope of the U.N. Security Council resolutions—a long line of them—to deal with Saddam Hussein. After an extended and excruciating diplomatic effort at the United Nations in New York and in capitals around the world, the U.N. Security Council late in 2002 passed Resolution 1441, which gave Saddam one final chance to comply or face military force. When, on December 8, 2002, Iraq produced its required report, it was clear that Saddam was continuing to play games and to reject his obligations under international law. His report, thousands of pages long, did not in any way account for the remaining weapons of mass destruction that the U.N. inspectors had reported to be in existence as of the end of 1998. That assessment was widely agreed upon.

That should have been that. But the debate at the United Nations went on—and on. And as it went on it deteriorated. Instead of the focus being on Iraq and Saddam, France induced others to regard the problem as one of restraining the United States—a position that seemed to emerge from France’s aspirations for greater influence in Europe and elsewhere. By March 2003 it was clear that French diplomacy had resulted in splitting NATO, the European Union, and the U.N. Security Council and probably convincing Saddam that he would not face the use of force. The French position, in effect, was to say that Saddam had begun to show signs of cooperation with the U.N. resolutions because more than 200,000 American troops were poised on Iraq’s borders ready to strike him; the United States should thus just keep its troops poised there for an indeterminate time, until France would presumably instruct us that we could either withdraw or go into action. This of course was impossible militarily, politically, and financially.

Where do we stand now? These key points need to be understood:

  • There has never been a clearer case of a rogue state using its privileges of statehood to advance its dictator’s interests in ways that defy and endanger the international state system.

  • The international legal case against Saddam—17 resolutions—was unprecedented.

  • The intelligence services of all involved nations and the U.N. inspectors during more than a decade all agreed that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction that posed a threat to international peace and security.

  • Saddam had four undisturbed years to augment, conceal, disperse, or otherwise deal with his arsenal.

  • He used every means to avoid cooperating or explaining what he had done with them. This refusal in itself was, under the U.N. resolutions, adequate grounds for resuming the military operation against him that had been put in abeyance in 1991, pending his compliance.

  • President Bush, in ordering U.S. forces into action, stated that we were doing so under U.N. Security Council Resolutions 678 and 687, the original bases for military action against Saddam Hussein in 1991. Those who criticize the United States for unilateralism should recognize that no nation in the history of the United Nations has ever engaged in such a sustained and committed multilateral diplomatic effort to adhere to the principles of international law and international organization within the international system. In the end, it was the United States that upheld and acted in accordance with the U.N. resolutions on Iraq, not those on the Security Council who tried to stop us.

The question of weapons of mass destruction is just that: a question that remains to be answered, a mystery that must be solved—just as we also must solve the mystery of how Libya and Iran developed menacing nuclear capability without detection, of how we were caught unaware of a large and flourishing black market in nuclear material, and of how we discovered these developments before they got completely out of hand and have put in place promising corrective processes. The question of Iraq’s presumed stockpile of weapons will be answered, but that answer, however it comes out, will not affect the fully justifiable and necessary action that the coalition has undertaken to bring an end to Saddam Hussein’s rule over Iraq. As arms inspector David Kay put it in a February 1 interview with Chris Wallace:

Kay: We know there were terrorist groups in state still seeking WMD capability. Iraq, although I found no weapons, had tremendous capabilities in this area. A marketplace phenomena was about to occur, if it did not occur; sellers meeting buyers. And I think that would have been very dangerous if the war had not intervened.

Wallace: But what could the sellers have sold, if they didn’t have actual weapons?

Kay: The knowledge of how to make them, the knowledge of how to make small amounts, which is, after all, mostly what terrorists want. They don’t want battlefield amounts of weapons. No, Iraq remained a very dangerous place in terms of WMD capabilities, even though we found no large stockpiles of weapons.

Above all, and in the long run, the most important aspect of the Iraq war will be what it means for the integrity of the international system and for the effort to deal effectively with terrorism. The stakes are huge, and the terrorists know that as well as we do, which is the reason for their tactic of violence in Iraq. And that is why, for us and for our allies, failure is not an option. The message is that the United States and others in the world who recognize the need to sustain our international system will no longer quietly acquiesce in the takeover of states by lawless dictators who then carry on their depredations—including the development of awesome weapons for threats, use, or sale—behind the shield of protection that statehood provides. As one of these criminals in charge of a state, you should no longer expect to be allowed to be inside the system at the same time that you are a deadly enemy of it.

North Korea is such a case. The circumstances do not parallel those of Iraq, so our approach is adjusted accordingly. China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea must labor with us. One way or another, that regime will undergo radical change or will come to an end. Iran is another very different case, where the interplay of strength and diplomacy is producing tentative results and where internal turmoil may change the complexion of the state.

The Middle East

The Middle East is an area where the population is exploding out of control, where youth is by far the largest group, and where these young people have little or nothing to do because governance has failed them. In many countries, oil has produced wealth without connecting people to reality, a problem reinforced by the fact that in some of them the hard physical work is often done by imported labor. The submissive role forced on women has led to the population explosion. Generations of young people have grown up in these societies with a surplus of time on their hands and a deficit of productive and honorable occupations. Since they are disconnected from reality, they can live in a world of fantasy. Denied opportunity, many have turned to a destructive, terror-using ideology. Islamism is the name most specialists have settled on. Yet these young people can see on their TV screens that a better life is possible in a great many places in the world. Whether or not they like what they see, their frustration is immense. A disproportionate share of the world’s many violent conflicts is in this area.

Many Muslim regimes in the Middle East have finally realized that the radical variant of Islam is violently opposed to the modern age, to globalization, to secular governance, and to those Muslim regimes themselves, their primary target. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan top the target list. Years ago these regimes, and others, began a frantic search for ways to deflect the threat. Some tried to co-opt the Islamists into their governments. Some paid extortion money. Some pushed the Islamists into other countries and then subsidized them. Some of them pumped out huge volumes of propaganda to incite the Islamists to turn their attention from the “near enemy,” such as Saudi Arabia, to the “far enemy,” Israel and the United States. Some of these targeted regimes tried all these defensive tactics in an attempt to buy time.

Since September 11, 2001, some of these Muslim regimes have begun to realize that this approach only strengthens their Islamist enemies, who will, sooner rather than later, turn against them directly. They have now had a reality check.

What we are witnessing is nothing short of a civil war in the Arab-Islamic world. On one side are those who, for reasons they ascribe to their version of Islam, reject the international system of states, reject international law and organization, reject international values and principles, such as human rights, and reject diplomacy as a means to work through problems. On this side are Al Qaeda and similar non-state terrorist groups that have spun a network running from West Africa to the East Indies, with outlying cells on every continent. Also on this side was the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, a pirate sailing under the false flag of legitimate statehood. And on this side as well are those Middle Eastern regimes, such as Syria, who have facilitated terrorism elsewhere in an attempt to keep it from home.

On the other side of the civil war are those regimes in the Arab-Islamic world that, however much they may have appeased, bought out, or propagandized the terrorists, have nonetheless now recognized that they are members of the international system of states and must find a way to reconcile their Islamic beliefs and practices to it. Saudi Arabia and others in the world of Islam must, in their own interests, recognize their responsibility to stop preaching hate and to start reforming their societies. Young people must have access to the world of opportunity. Women must be free to play substantial roles in their societies.

The United States, in our war with Iraq, has just intervened in this civil war in the Middle East. Because we have used our strength credibly and because we stand for good governance and for the right of Middle Eastern peoples to participate in the international system successfully, and as these peoples see that we will stay the course, we can expect attitudes in the region to shift in a positive way.

The Israeli-Palestinian Problem

And we have taken our long-standing role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a new and deeper level, also because of a renewed recognition of the importance of the state.

In 1979 Egypt and Israel recognized each other as legitimate states and signed a peace treaty. At that time Egypt took on the role of state negotiator with Israel on behalf of the Palestinians, who did not have a state. This was in recognition that states can make peace only with other states within the context of the international state system.

But after Islamists murdered President Sadat, Egypt dropped its role as state negotiator. Jordan took up that role but dropped it in 1988. Since that time the negotiations have not made serious progress, despite some apparent high points, because there has been no state partner to sit across the table from the state of Israel.

But now the picture has some new possibilities. Yes, optimists should stand aside, but fatalists should, too. You do not work on probabilities in this area, just possibilities. But work we must—and with energy and timing—since the issues involved are vital in this dangerous world.

What are the possibilities? They are far more in evidence than is commonly assumed.

Security for the state of Israel is clearly an essential for fruitful negotiations. So far, nothing has worked. Those who seek to eliminate Israel have regarded efforts at Oslo or Camp David II and elsewhere as proof that terrorism works and that every Israeli step toward peace is really a sign of weakness.

Now a security barrier is under construction. Israel has stated that its path can be changed in the event of a negotiation. Israel seems ready to pull back some settlements beyond the new barrier, as in Gaza. If Israel, through these measures, gains security in its land, that will be a major step toward peace. Once again, Israel will have demonstrated that it cannot be beaten militarily, this time by terrorist violence. The confirmation of this fact is essential. And when Palestinians face the fact that terrorism has become both ineffective and self-destructive, that realization may enable them to take a major step toward peace.

What else can we list as a basis for possibility?

The war in Iraq has eliminated a rogue state that repeatedly acted to disrupt progress toward peace. And Operation Iraqi Freedom has had an impact all across the region: as Iraq stabilizes, people in the Middle East will see that change for the better is possible.

For the first time in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, important Arab states have stated a willingness to promote peace between Israel and Palestine. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan are the keystones of this structure. And remember the important initiative of Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Under his initiative, in the event that a peace agreement is reached between the state of Israel and a state of Palestine, the Arab League states would recognize Israel as a permanent, legitimate state in the Middle East and in the international state system.

And there is a “road map” to work from. This document spells out the general directions for progress toward an Israeli-Palestinian peace. No document since the founding text of the peace process—the 1967 U.N. Security Council Resolution 242—has had such wide, if tentative, international support. Israelis and Palestinians, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the “quartet”—the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations—all have indicated willingness to take this “road map” as a working paper of the parties to the conflict, and of the leading nations and organizations of the international state system itself.

This approach incorporates a way to fix the negotiating problems of the past 20 years. It provides for the establishment of a Palestinian state, not at the end of the negotiations but in the midst of the effort. Of course, there is much more to making a state than an announcement. But a structure of governance can be established, and if the states of Egypt and Jordan will help, violence can be suppressed and the emerging state can control the use of force. Then there would be a Palestinian state partner for the state of Israel to negotiate with. The Palestinians charged with governance will have more leverage, and the Israelis will have more confidence that their negotiating partner can deliver on the deal that is made—because it will be a state-to-state deal. Put some projects in the mix (water, for example) to energize those Palestinians who yearn for peace and a chance for a better life. Help them take the initiative from the extremists so that their state has a chance for decent governance. Who knows, possibility could become probability and then a new reality.

A World of Danger and a World of Opportunity

I cannot emphasize too strongly the danger and extent of the challenge we are facing. We are engaged in a long and bitter war. Our enemies will not simply sit back and watch as we make progress toward prosperity and peace in the world.

But September 11 forced us to comprehend the extent and danger of the challenge. We began to act before our enemy was able to extend and consolidate his network. If we put this in terms of World War II, we are now sometime around 1937. In the 1930s, the world failed to do what it needed to do to head off a world war. Appeasement never works. Today we are in action. We must not flinch. With a powerful interplay of strength and diplomacy, we can win this war.

We and our partners throughout the world can then work and live in a time of immense promise. Scientific and technological advances are breathtaking virtually across the board. The impact on the human condition and human possibilities is profound. New technologies are changing the way we live and work, globalizing access to an extraordinary range of information. People everywhere can see that economic advances have taken place in countries of every size, with great varieties of ethnic, religious, and cultural histories. So we should not be surprised—as Freedom House, the Heritage Foundation, and the Wall Street Journal carefully document—that open economic and political systems are becoming more common.

This new reality means that America’s political-military-diplomatic policy must be joined by economic policy aimed at transforming the international energy picture. Our strength and our security are vitally affected by our dependence on oil coming from other countries and by the dependence of the world economy on oil from the most unstable part of the world: the Middle East. Presidents from Eisenhower on have called for energy independence. Ike, no stranger to issues of national security, thought that if foreign oil were more than 20 percent of our consumption, we were headed for trouble. The number is now pushing 60 percent and rising. What would be the impact of terrorist sabotage of key elements of the Saudi pipeline infrastructure?

I remember proposals for alternatives to oil from the time of the first big oil crisis in 1973. Pie in the sky, I thought. But now the situation is different.

Hybrid technology is on the road and increases gas mileage by at least 50 percent. Sequestration of effluent from use of coal may be possible. Maybe coal could be a benign source of hydrogen. Maybe hydrogen could be economically split out of water by electrolysis, perhaps using renewables such as wind power. An economy with a major hydrogen component would do wonders for both our security and our environment. With evident improvements in fuel cells, that combination could amount to a very big deal. Applications include stationary as well as mobile possibilities. Other ideas are in the air. Scientists, technologists, and commercial organizations in other countries are hard at work on these issues. The administration is coordinating potentially significant developments. We should not be put off by experts who are forever saying that the possible is improbable. Scientific advances in recent decades are a tribute to and validation of creative possibilities. Bet on them all. Sometimes long odds win.

Now is the time to push hard on research and development with augmented funds directed at identified targets such as sequestration, electrolysis, and fuel cells, and other money going to competent scientists with ideas about energy. You never know what bright people will come up with when resources and enthusiasm combine. We can enhance America’s security and simultaneously improve our environment.

So an unprecedented age of opportunity is ahead, especially for low-income countries long in poverty. The United States and our allies can rally people all over the world. Don’t let the terrorists take away our opportunities. We have the winning hand. We must play that hand with skill and confidence.