shock of the sudden victory has some obvious benefits, and one serious
drawback. On the positive side, it has dealt a blow to "Islamic
jihadism" or whatever one calls the terrorist ideology fomented
by bin Laden and Al Qaeda.
neoconservative analyst Daniel Pipes points to several signs that
the Islamist mystique has been punctured and is leaking badly. Portraits
of bin Laden, a very hot item in the Peshawar marketplace after
9-11, no longer sell like hotcakes. The Friday afternoon anti-American
demonstrations in Pakistan, which had been growing in size and violence,
are suddenly become small and tame. Anti-U.S. bombing demonstrations
in the Middle East have tailed off as well, from the first week
(where there were nine), to three, to two, to zero. Pipes asserts
the supercharged protests of September which took place throughout
the Muslim world from Nigeria to Indonesia are now "distant
bin Laden down to size, shrinking his base of potential recruits
demonstrating that if a government allows itself to serve as
a base for attacks on the United States, its days are numbered
these are worthy goals and few Americans would disapprove of them.
So long as the administration's war aims were clearly related to
the terror attack of September 11, it had little difficulty finding
domestic support, or in finding allies around the world.
"coalition" worked well enough, despite all the easy-to-make
points about halfhearted cooperation, and the obvious disinterest
of allies like Saudi Arabia. Most NATO countries at least offered
military assistance, though the capacities of most of them are hardly
global. Russia heretofore treated virtually an adversary of the
new administration helped the US secure use of air bases in former
Soviet Asia. Vladimir Putin spent a warm couple of days with President
Bush. Britain's Tony Blair proved a more effective spokesman for
American actions than anybody in the Bush cabinet. Germany and Spain
have made scores of arrests of suspected Al Qaeda operatives and
are sharing intelligence information.
the surprisingly fast victory has brought the United States nearer
to that fateful next step which will divide the anti-terrorist coalition
into those who thought an anti-bin Laden police action necessary
and appropriate and the real "War Party." The latter is
a coalition of conservative journalists, lobbyists and government
officials which was pushing hard for an American war against various
Muslim regimes before 9-11, and which, since that date, has put
all its efforts into expanding the American war beyond Afghanistan.
The War Party has asserted aggressively that Saddam Hussein was
behind the anthrax attacks, and enlisted former CIA chief James
Woolsey to compile a dossier linking Iraq either to the anthrax
or the 9-11 terror. Woolsey apparently failed to come up with anything
persuasive. Now the War Party has begun to argue we should attack
Iraq anyway, despite lack of evidence of Iraqi complicity.
is the first country on the War Party's target list, but not the
only one. The Wall Street Journal laid out the agenda in
the days after 9-11: the United States, it said, should attack Iraq,
Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and "parts of" Egypt. Nine days
after the WTC attack, The Weekly Standard's William Kristol
circulated a "War Party letter" in which leading neoconservatives
called for the expansion of the war to Iraq, Iran, and Syria.
danger today is that these superhawks may now get a greater hearing.
Adrenaline is surging in Washington, and hubris is not far behind.
Those characteristically cautious and skeptical about the use of
force are taking another look. For most people it is refreshing
to see so many signs of personal liberation breaking out in Afghanistan
after the Taliban's demise. But if the campaign against the Taliban
was surprisingly easy, it could prove disastrously so if it pushes
the Bush administration into heedless expansion of the war.
hopes the President recognizes that a campaign against Iran, Iraq
and Syria would take place in a very different diplomatic environment
than one against the Taliban. So long as the target was terror,
Washington had virtually unanimous governmental support in Europe,
and widespread popular sympathy, even in countries, such as Russia,
where there exists a nearly reflexive distrust of American diplomacy.
in a war against Iraq, Washington would likely be alone. Unlike
1991, there would be no bases in Saudi Arabia. Tony Blair would
not be smoothing the way with diplomatic trips. Perhaps, some neocons
say, Turkey would be our ally we could bribe the Turks with promises
of oil rich Iraqi territory. One wonders whether President Bush
would see it in America's interest to completely shatter the post
World War II norms of international behavior. The police cooperation
that has been helping to disrupt the Al Qaeda networks, extensive
in Europe and the Middle East, would dry up.
short, the "Western" coalition would fracture. There might
even be United Nations resolutions against the American military
move and certainly no help in heading them off from Britain,
Russia, France or China. Security for American embassies in the
Middle East would vanish. Russia's necessary cooperation in keeping
track of the Soviet nuclear stockpile would become problematic
with terrifying implications.
short, what had been for the past two months a remarkably broad
American-led coalition against terror would turn, quickly, into
a remarkably broad coalition against America's unilateral use of
military force. The dangers from terrorism, directed against an
America that had transformed itself from righteous avenger into
a menacing bully, would escalate.
if George Bush tried to say, "No, honest, it's just Saddam
and the biological weapons we believe he is producing that we want
to eliminate," anyone who disagreed could simply point to numerous
editorials in the Weekly Standard and Wall Street Journal
as evidence that the War Party's military agenda reaches far beyond
printable version of this article
As a committed
cold warrior during the 1980ís, Scott McConnell wrote extensively
for Commentary and other neoconservative publications. Throughout
much of the 1990ís he worked as a columnist, chief editorial writer,
and finally editorial page editor at the New York Post. Most
recently, he served as senior policy advisor to Pat Buchananís 2000
campaign , and writes regularly for NY Press/Taki's Top Drawer.
columns on Antiwar.com
of the War Party
Hearts and Minds
Strategic Withdrawal Option
Open Letter to Arab Readers
Push for A Wider War
Bushes and the Palestinians: Act 2
Struggle Over War Aims
They Hate Us
Many Arabs Hate America
is Still Right
Real Plan for the Mideast
Just Mideast Peace
Liberalism on the March