One Year Ago, Today; September 11 Haunts U.S. Foreign policy.(OPED)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 11, 2002 | Go to article overview

One Year Ago, Today; September 11 Haunts U.S. Foreign policy.(OPED)


Byline: Helle Dale, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Ask any American beyond the age of 5, and they will be able to tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing one year ago today. We all have our stories, whether we lost someone, a relative or a friend - or whether we simply saw our world change in the blink of an eye. Our memories and our grief for those who were lost have become part of the fabric of American history for good. While evil triumphed that day, Americans rallied, motivated by love for their country which many had never felt as strongly before. Memorial services throughout the United States today will reinforce those feelings.

Anniversaries, however, are also a time to take stock. For the past few weeks, the papers have been full of commentary and analyses of where we are in the war against terrorism. Unfortunately, the debate seems to have settled back into predictable patterns. Those who thought that President Bush came into office with a unilateralist agenda are finding confirmation of that idea. Those who never believed that Iraq's program of weapons of mass destruction must be rooted out, remain as skeptical as ever.

On the other hand, of course, those of us who believe that the president of the United States has a right and an obligation to defend Americans (with or without the consent of other nations), who believe that Saddam Hussein is a ticking time bomb, are likely to applaud Mr. Bush's leadership. Both sides would certainly agree, however, that September 11 profoundly changed U.S. foreign-policy priorities.

A radical change has been the readiness to use force. Having been subject to an unprovoked attack, the Bush administration has been unapologetic in its use of force to defend Americans security interests. The war in Afghanistan was waged less than a month after the September 11 attacks to destroy the al Qaeda network. Righteous anger and a sense of victimization have eradicated any lingering trace of Vietnam War syndrome.

Despite criticism that the war against terrorism is getting bogged down, after the initial successes in the campaign in Afghanistan last fall, the war continues on a worldwide scale. To say that it is running out of steam is simply not correct.

Right now, the question of whether war against Iraq is to constitute the next phase of the war on terror is hotly debated in print and on television. Tomorrow, Mr. Bush will make his case before the General Assembly of the United Nations. …

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