Advice for the Next President; Push Boundaries of Political Correctness

Article excerpt

Byline: Harlan Ullman, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

It is an irresistible urge in years divisible by four, particularly for columnists and denizens of the nation's editorial pages, to offer advice to the next president. So Mr. President, whether you are George Bush or John Kerry, in succumbing to this urge, here are some provocative ideas that might be considered after November 2.

First, while you and your opponent agreed that the greatest potential danger facing the United States was terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction, suppose the real threat is much broader, extending well beyond the global war on terror. Suppose the danger and reality combine messianic political ambitions for power that rely on terror as a tool and a perverted vision of God as a siren's call to recruit forces.

Imagine sometime in the future, a regime as bad as or worse than the Taliban seizes power somewhere in the Greater Middle East. Further, imagine that this regime controls Saudi (and possibly Iraqi) oil and Pakistani nuclear weapons. And further imagine that it could choose either to isolate itself from the world possibly turning off the oil spigot or embark on a crusade to expand its radicalism, recreating a Caliphate of old.

For those who dismiss this possibility, the same disbelief applied a hundred years ago toward Lenin and the Bolsheviks and 80 years ago with Hitler and the Nazis. Yet, Russia became the Soviet Union and Germany the Third Reich. The lesson is that it is simplistic and narrow- minded to assume that terrorists operate only on the grounds of hating America and infidels and that there is no grand political ambition empowered by radical Islam as Lenin and Hitler used theology to steal power. If that is accurate, then to defeat "terror," the United States must attack the causes and not just the symptoms (that is the terrorists) of this radicalism.

Second, despite great effort and sound bites to the contrary, America's national security structure is still, to use the description of the 2001 Hart-Rudman Commission, "dysfunctional." The executive branch needs far more "transformation" to cope with these dangers beyond the new Homeland Security Department or a national intelligence director. And unless Congress reforms itself for the 21st century, by reducing and streamlining a bloated committee structure and legislating process, and takes steps to contain partisanship and enhance effective partnership with the executive, bringing peace to Iraq or defeating terror will remain unfulfilled slogans in search of unachievable aims. …