If he should have insisted that more

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If you are looking for good news out of Iraq, there are glimmers. Last week
U.S. troops accompanied by Iraqi forces regained control of Samarra in a
relatively quick and clean operation. A city that was run by anti-American
insurgents is now in the hands of the Iraqi government. American officials
hope that this will be the beginning of the stabilization of the Sunni
Triangle. But for this latest campaign to work, what will matter most are
postwar operations. U.S. troops will have to work with Iraqi forces to
create a stable, law-abiding environment in Samarra (and other cities) and
jump-start economic reconstruction. Recall that the U.S. invasion of Iraq
was relatively quick and clean, only to be undone by disastrous postwar

Paul Bremer has now admitted what has been obvious to many since the week
Baghdad fell. “We never had enough troops,” he said at a conference, adding
that he should have insisted that more were needed. Senior officials who
worked with Bremer at the time have told me the Pentagon’s civilian
leadership staunchly opposed adding more troops and would not allow
existing troops to do police work. That explains why American forces did
not stop widespread looting and failed to secure ammunition dumps and other
critical sites. (Similarly, American troops were not permitted to stop the
burgeoning drug trade in Afghanistan.)
Bremer did not mention the second major mistake of the occupation. The
United States failed to recognize strong nationalist feelings in Iraq that
quickly turned into anti-American sentiment. As a result, it did not see
the insurgency coming, and when it came, Washington did not recognize the
rebels’ strength and appeal: “A fewdead-enders,”DonaldRumsfeld
repeatedly called them. Convinced that Iraqis would see the United States
only as liberators, the administration insisted there was no insurgency,
that foreign fighters were the main culprits and that the guerrillas were
all “terrorists.” This misreading of reality-to fit an ideological template-
persists. Only two weeks ago, President Bush described Iraq as a country on
the road to democracy being thwarted by a “handful of terrorists.” The fact
is that foreign nationals comprise only 300 of the 5,000 insurgents being
held in Iraqi prisons. Gen. John Abizaid, the head of Central Command, has
said that “it’s not correct to say that there are floods of foreign
fighters coming in.”
Washington’s plan for postwar Iraq, such as it was, was modeled on the
occupation of Germany after World War II. But Germany and Japan were highly
unusual cases. They had launched aggressive wars against alltheir
neighbors, were totally defeated and had lost all legitimacy in the eyes of
the world. At the same time as those occupations, the dominant trend around
the world was the rise of nationalismforcing Britain, France and other
colonial powers to abandon their empires. This anti-imperial feeling was
particularly strong in the Middle East. Iraqi resentment of, and resistance
to, a naked American occupation was predictable.

In 1991 the RAND Corporation produced a study on the lessons of Britain’s
many counterinsurgency operations. One of its central conclusions was that
recognizing an insurgency late is very costly. It gives insurgents time to
mobilize and entrench themselves within the civilian population. It also
gives them time to sow insecurity and instability which makes civilians
lose faith in the standing Army and police force.

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General Abizaid now calls the current conflict in Iraq a “classic guerrilla-
type campaign.” But as Bruce Hoffman points out in a RAND study, that’s not
correct. Unlike classic insurgencies, there is no center of gravity, no
headquarters to the operation. Hoffman terms Iraq the first example of
“netwar,” a war waged by “small groups who communicate, coordinate, and
conduct their campaigns in an internetted manner, without a precise central
command” (as originally defined by John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt). The
nationaliststhat work loosely together, united byacommonanti-

In such a war, even more than in most insurgencies, military victory plays
an important but small part. The primary struggle is political: to win the
support of the local population, defang the ideology that fuels the
insurgency, win over militants to the government’s side and slowly drain
the rebel movement of its strength. It will take a political and military
strategy to win a netwar.

Years from now, when historians try to explain the world of the early
twenty-first century, they might mention the Parsley crisis. It took place
in July, when the government of Morocco sent twelve soldiers to a tiny
island called Leila, a few hundred feet off its coast, in the Strait of
Gibraltar, and planted its flag there. The island is uninhabited, except
for some goats, and all that thrives on it is wild parsley, hence its
Spanish name, Perejil. But its sovereignty has long been contested by
Morocco and Spain, and the Spanish government reacted forcefully to the
Moroccan “aggression.” Within a couple of weeks, seventy-five Spanish
soldiers had been airlifted onto the island. They pulled down the Moroccan
flag, hoisted two Spanish flags, and sent the Moroccans home. The Moroccan
government denounced the “act of war” and organized rallies, where scores
of young men chanted, “Our souls and our blood are sacrifices to you,
Leila!” Spain kept its military helicopters hovering over the island and
its warships off the coast of Morocco. Absurd as the affair was, someone
was going to have to talk the two countries down.

That role fell not to the United Nations, or to the European Union, or to a
friendly European country like France, which has good relations with both
sides. It fell to the United States. Once it became clear that nothing else
was working, Secretary of State Colin Powell began a hectic round of
telephone diplomacy, placing more than a dozen calls to the Moroccan king
and foreign minister. After a few days, both countries agreed to leave the
island unoccupied and begin talks, in Rabat, about its future status. Both
governments issued statements thanking the United States for helping to
resolve the crisis.

It is a small example but a telling one. The United States has no interests
in the Strait of Gibraltar. Unlike the European Union, it has no special
leverage with Spain or Morocco. Unlike the United Nations, it cannot speak
for the international community. But it was the only country that could
resolve the dispute, for a simple, fundamental reason. In a unipolar world,
it is the single superpower.

A world with just one major power is unprecedented. For several centuries
before 1945, European states of roughly equivalent standing dominated
global affairs in a multipolar system. Many powers jockeying for advantage
meant shifting alliances and almost constant war. It fixed in people’s
minds the image of international politics as Realpolitik, a ruthless, ever-
changing game of might. Eventually, the system tore itself apart in the two
world wars of the twentieth century. Throughout the Cold War, from 1945
until 1991, the world was bipolar. Because there were only two camps, the
system was less chaotic, but every confrontation got tied back to the
contest between the United States and the Soviet Union. Even isolated flash
points-Quemoy and Matsu, Congo, Angola, Nicaragua-quickly became tests of
the two superpowers’ resolve.

Most nations-including the United States-are still unsure of the character
and the consequences of the unipolar world. The confusion has increased
dramatically since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which for
many Americans revealed the country’s vulnerability: America’s overwhelming
military power cannot keep it safe. The attacks underscored the point that
Harvard’s Joseph S. Nye, Jr., made in his recent book, “The Paradox of
American Power,” which argues that while American power is unmatched, it
has its limits in a modern, globalized age. Much of the Western world has
lived for some decades with the knowledge that terrorism can plague an open
society. But the September attacks were more nihilistic, more deadly than
any that had come before. And they were, in a sense, a consequence of the
new unipolar world. Americans like to think that this country was attacked
because it is free. But so are Italy and Denmark, whose cities stand
undisturbed. America was attacked because it is the master of the modern
world, deploying its economic, political, and military powers across the
globe. Because America is “No. 1,” it is also target No. 1.

The immediate effect of the attacks, however, has been a reassertion of
American dominance. As the rest of the world watched, Washington moved
terror to the top of the global agenda; ousted a regime in Afghanistan,
almost entirely from the air; and increased its annual defense budget by
almost fifty billion dollars, which is more than the total defense spending
of Great Britain. It is now maneuvering, despite initial opposition from
almost every other country, to get the United Nations to force Iraq to
disarm or face war.

America’s relative position in the world has no real historical precedent.

Imperial Britain, which at its peak reigned over a quarter of the world’s
population, is the closest analogy to the United States today, but it is
still an inadequate one. To take an example, the symbol of Britain’s
supremacy was its Navy, which-at great cost to the British treasury-was
kept larger than the next two largest navies combined. The United States
military today is bigger, in dollars spent on it, than the militaries of
the next largest fifteen countries combined-and those expenditures amount
to only about four per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.

America’s dominance now seems self-evident, but most policy experts were
slow to see it. In 1990, as the Soviet Union was collapsing, Margaret
Thatcher expressed a commonly held view that the world was moving toward
three regional groups, “one based on the dollar, one based on the yen, one
on the Deutsche mark.” The Gulf War changed the atmosphere, but only
momentarily. Beset by a recession and mounting deficits, President George
H. W. Bush sent his Secretary of State, James Baker, to raise funds from
the allies to pay for the war. American economic troubles played a part-“We
have more will than wallet,” Bush had declared in his Inaugural address-but
mostly everyone assumed that unipolarity was a passing phase.

Talk of America’s weakness dominated the 1992 Presidential election. “The
Cold War is over: Japan and Germany won,” the late Paul Tsongas said
throughout his campaign for the Democratic nomination. Henry Kissinger, in
his 1994 book, “Diplomacy,” predicted the emergence of a new multipolar
world, as did most scholars. Foreigners concurred: Europeans believed that
they were on the path to unity and world power, and Asians spoke
confidently of the rise of “the Pacific Century.”
Despite these claims, however, foreign problems, no matter how distant,
seemed to end up in Washington’s lap. When the crisis in the Balkans began,
in 1991, the President of the European Council, JacquesPoos,of
Luxembourg, declared, “This is the hour of Europe. If one problem can be
solved by the Europeans it is the Yugoslav problem. This is a European
country and it is not up to the Americans.” It was not an unusual or an
anti-American view. Most European leaders, including Thatcher and Helmut
Kohl, shared it. But several bloody years later it was left to America to
stop the fighting. By the time Kosovo erupted, Europe let Washington take
the lead. During the East Asian economic crisis, East Timor’s struggle for
independence, successive MiddleEastconflicts,andLatin-American
defaults, the same pattern emerged. In many cases, other countries were
part of the solution, but unless America intervened the crisis persisted.

During the nineteen-nineties, American action, with all its flaws, proved a
better course than inaction. In the same period, the American economy went
into its longest postwar boom and, in the process, reversed a decades-old
and seemingly normal relative decline. In 1960, the United States’ share of
world output was thirty per cent; by 1980 it had dropped to twenty-three
per cent; today it is twenty-nine per cent. The American economy is now
larger than the next three largest economies-those of Japan, Germany, and
Great Britain-combined.

American Presidents, however, were slow to embrace their imperial destiny.

Bill Clinton came into office promising to stop worrying about foreign
policy and to focus “like a laser beam” on the economy. But the pull of
unipolarity is strong. By his second term, he had become a foreign-policy
President. George W. Bush, in his campaign, reacting to what he saw as a
pattern of overinvolvement in international affairs-from economic bailouts
to nation-building-promised to scale back America’s commitments. Today, the
President who urged that America be “a humble nation” issues diktats to the
world community, supports nation-building and bailouts, and is increasing
America’s foreign-aid budget by fifty per cent. The shift was made complete
last month, with the publication of the White House’s “National Security
Strategy,” an unapologetic acceptance of American hegemony.

As America’s power became more apparent, foreign governments voiced their
growing distaste for it. Clinton’s chief economic advisers, Robert Rubin
and Lawrence Summers, and their de-facto subordinates at the International
Monetary Fund were frequently accused of arrogance as they travelled in
developing nations. Diplomats like Madeleine Albright and Richard Holbrooke
were disparaged in Europe for acting as if America were, in Albright’s
phrase, the “indispensable nation.” The French foreign minister, Hubert
Vedrine, devised the term “hyperpower” to describe Bill Clinton’s America.

The complaints have risen to aclamorduringthecurrentBush
Administration, which has shown a disdain for allies, treaties, and
international organizations. In its first two years it has reneged on more
international treaties than any previous Administration. Often its actions
seem gratuitous. The Kyoto treaty on global warming, for example, was
moribund before the Administration loudly pronounced it dead. (Few European
countries are close to meeting their goals, and by leaving out China and
India the treaty forfeited the possibility of having any real effect.) But
by withdrawing in such confrontational tones the Administration sent a
signal that the world’s largest consumer of energy was unconcerned about
the environment. American allies-even, on occasion, Great Britain-complain
that they are informed of, rather than consulted about, American policy.

Even when the Administration has ended up pursuing policies multilaterally
it has done so muttering and grumbling-as it has in taking its case against
Iraq to the United Nations-so that much of the good will it might have
generated has been lost.

Some neoconservative writers assert that such rancor is an unavoidable by-
product of hegemony. In an influential article published this summer in the
journal Policy Review, Robert Kagan argues that European and American
differences over multilateral cooperation are a result of their relative
strengths. When Europe’s big countries were the world’s great powers, they
cared little for international cooperation, and celebrated Realpolitik.

Europe is now weak, he writes, so it favors rules and restraints. America,
for its part, wants complete freedom of action: “Now that the United States
is powerful, it behaves as powerful nationsdo.”Butthisview
misinterprets history and misunderstands the unique place that America
occupied in twentieth-century diplomacy. America was the most powerful
country in the world when it proposed the creation of an international
organization, the League of Nations, to manage international relations
after the First World War. It was the dominant power at the end of the
Second World War, when it founded the United Nations, created the Bretton
Woods system of international economic cooperation, and launched most of
the world’s key international organizations. For much of the twentieth
century, America embraced international cooperation not out of fear and
vulnerability but from a position of confidence and strength. If the Bush
Administration rejects this approach, it is indeed, as Richard Holbrooke
has charged, making “a radical break with fifty-five years of a bipartisan
tradition that sought international agreements and regimes of benefit to
But unilateralism is also a reversion to an older American reflex. It is,
perhaps, the most venerable tradition in American foreign policy, rooted in
the belief that the United States is an exceptional country, set apart from
the scheming nations of the Old World. Most American statesmen agreed with
Thomas Jefferson when he warned against “entangling alliances.” The fear
was, quite simply, that associating with European powers would be morally
corrupting. John Quincy Adams, in his famous July 4th speech of 1821,
declared, “America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” He
then explained why: “She well knows that by once enlisting under other
banners than her own . . . she would involve herself . . . in all the wars
of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition. . . .

She might become the dictatress of the world: she would be no longer the
ruler of her own spirit.” Unilateralism did not mean isolationism. America
started as thirteen colonies nestled east of the Allegheny Mountains and
became a vast continental empire through aggressive diplomacy, financial
deals, and, on several occasions, war. Foreign policy has always been
worthwhile whenthegoalwastransformation-inthiscase,the
Americanization of new lands. But diplomacy as usual was to be shunned.

International politics was to be transcended, not engaged in.

Unilateralism still has a popular appeal, especially in the South, which is
now the base of the Republican Party. But it cannot be an organizing
principle of foreign policy. It is a disposition, or, at most, a means. The
fundamental questions about America’s approach to the world are about ends.

The Bush Administration has often used America’s extraordinary power
effectively, getting its way on a host of specific issues, from the A.B.M.

treaty to Iraq’s weapons production. But what do these issues add up to
more broadly? What are the purposes of American hegemony?
The historical answer to that question is to be found in the British
missionary movement of the nineteenth century, whose statedaims-to
civilize developing countries, abolish the slave trade, act against human-
rights abuses, and ostracize despotic governments-were adopted by the
liberals, most prominently William Gladstone. In modern times, this Anglo-
American vision of an idealistic foreign policy is most closely associated
with President Woodrow Wilson.

Wilson was, in many ways, a failure as a politician. A stern man with few
skills at negotiation or mediation, he was unable to get his own country to
accept his most important project, the League of Nations. The Senate killed
it, unwilling to commit America to the defense of something as vast and as
vague as world order. But, for all his practical failings, his ideas have
endured, indeed triumphed. Today, when someone argues in favor of human
rights and democracy, advocates self-determination for minority populations
or the dismantling of colonial empires, criticizes secret and duplicitous
diplomacy, or supports international law and organizations, he is rightly
called Wilsonian. And while the particular mixture of ingredients has
varied, almost every American President in the past half century has been,
at least rhetorically, a Wilsonian.

Of course, like every powerful nation, the United States has pursued its
own interests, often harshly-for instance, in Central America. And when the
Cold War seemed most threatening-during the Vietnam War and amid rising
Soviet expansion in the Third World-Americans turned to calculation and
Realpolitik, carried out most intensively by Henry Kissinger. This raison
d’etat is still evident in our support of dictatorships from Saudi Arabia
to Turkmenistan. But when the United States’ position in the world has felt
secure its goals have been the broad, idealistic ones that Wilson embodied.

“We have it in our power,” Ronald Reagan often used to say, quoting Thomas
Paine, “to begin the world over again.” George H. W. Bush is often seen as
a narrow-minded realist, and he would certainly not accept the label
“Wilsonian.” Yet, when searching for a way to describe his hopes for the
world after the Cold War and the Gulf War, he grasped for one of Wilson’s
most famous ideas. “What is at stake,” Bush said, “is a big idea-a new
world order, where diverse nations are drawn together in common cause to
achieve the universal aspirations of mankind: peace and security, freedom,
and the rule of law.” A few weeks later, in a speech to a joint session of
Congress, Bush evoked “a world where the United Nations, freed from Cold
War stalemate, is poised to fulfill the historic vision of its founders. A
world in which freedom and respect for human rights find a home among all
George W. Bush, in the first months of his term, did not speak much about
the broad goals toward which his Administration’s foreign policy was aimed.

Some of his pre-September 11th obsessions-particularly missile defense-
suggested a notion of national security geared toward staying safe and
aloof from the world (though missile defense is ineffective against
terrorism). But in what was billed as an important speech, delivered in
June at the West Point commencement, Bush began to outline a world view. He
described the dangers of the new era and then asserted that “America has,
and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenge, thereby making
the destabilizing arms races of other eras pointless, andlimiting
rivalries to trade and other pursuits of peace.” It is a breathtaking
statement, promising that American power will transform international
politics itself, making the millennia-old struggle over national security
obsolete. In some ways, it is the most Wilsonian statement any President
has made since Wilson himself, echoing his pledge to use American power to
create a “universal dominion of right.” This claim is at the center of
Bush’s new National Security Strategy document, which says on its first
page, “Today, the United States enjoys a position of unparalleled military
strength and great economic and political influence. In keeping with our
heritage and principles, we do not use our strength to press for unilateral
advantage. We seek instead to create a balance of power that favors human
Many of Bush’s recent proclamations are Wilsonian. He advocates democracy
in Palestine and wants to build a modern, democratic state in Iraq as part
of a wider effort to democratize the Arab world. Last month, at the United
Nations, in explaining why Iraq was a threat to world peace, he said that
“open societies do not threaten the world with mass murder.” But while he
adopts some of Wilson’s loftiest ideals, Bush is also following some of his
most fatal practices. Wilson’s means were often highly unilateral. When he
took the United States into the war, in 1917, he insisted that although it
fought alongside France and England, it was not an ally but an “associated
power.” His entire approach to the war and its aftermath was to dissociate
the United States from the sordid desires of its allies. Impatient with
other countries’ cultures and uninterested in their views, Wilson tended to
issue declarations for the whole world. He believed strongly in the
righteousness of his cause, and that was enough to allay any concerns he
might have had about the reaction of foreign countries. In fact, he
thought, their hostility was often proof of the revolutionary nature of his
ideas. Some of this may have been true-just as some of Bush’s frustration
with European and United Nations diplomacy is understandable-but it insured
that Wilson was a practical failure. Bush’s high-handedness also promises
to make his policies ineffective. Yet there is a way to conduct a robust
and visionary foreign policy without triggering an avalanche of anti-
Americanism around the world. It’s called diplomacy.

The American who best understood how to balance idealism and power was
Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt adopted so many stances during his
tenure-from isolationism in the early nineteen-thirties to bargains with
Stalin in the nineteen-forties-that he could just as easily be termed a
realist, an idealist, a pacifist, and an opportunist. But at the end of the
Second World War he faced a challenge unlike any faced by a world leader
before. Chief among the victors, presiding over a world in ruins, he had to
decide what the postwar world should look like. He set in motion a series
of international organizations-dealing with international security, trade,
economic policy, food and agriculture, civil aviation-that had Wilsonian
goals. Unlike Wilson’s projects, however, the most important ones were to
be run not as democracies but, rather, by the countries that had real
power. That gave them a reason to support the system. The United Nations
was to be run by those who had won the war-the United States, the Soviet
Union, France, Britain, and China. The Bretton Woods system-the I.M.F. and
the World Bank-was to be run by the country providing most of the cash,
which was America. Thus, when America was even more powerful than it is
today-by some measures it had fifty per cent of world output-it put into
place a series of measures designedtorebuilditsadversaries,
institutionalize international cooperation on dozens of global issues, and
alleviate poverty. No other nation would have done this: Churchill and
Stalin were busy carving out spheres of influence. And few Presidents other
than F.D.R. could have done it successfully.

It is difficult to recall today how expansive the American vision was.

Roosevelt’s successor, Harry Truman, has a reputation as a combative cold
warrior; he is the man who founded NATO and launched America into the
Korean War. But, from the time he was in high school until the day he died,
Truman carried in his wallet lines from Tennyson’s “Locksley Hall,” which
read, in part, “In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world. /
There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe, / And the
kindly earth shall slumber, lapped in universal law.” Roosevelt and Truman
knew that to transform the world one had to engage in it. Roosevelt thought
poorly of many of his wartime allies and their goals-he despised French and
British colonialism, for example-but he understood that those countries had
to be accommodated. Truman understood that the United States could best
combat Soviet Communism by creating permanent, entangling alliances with
other countries. As a result, these two Presidents and their successors
created the conditions for the triumph of a world quite different from any
that existed in the past. Today, there is an international consensus in
favor of democracy, some version of open markets and capitalism, and some
international norms, rules, and restraints. This has happened because of
the inherent strength of these ideas but also because they have been
hitched to American power.

Perhaps most important, Roosevelt and Truman, having lived through the
nineteen-thirties, knew how fragile the international system was and
believed that it needed support. Having reaped the fruits of this system-
upheld by all successive Presidents of both parties-we have come to believe
that stability is natural. But the world order put into place by the United
States in the past half century-an order based on alliances, organizations,
and norms-functions largely because of the respect paid to it by its
superpower creator. Without that support, it will crumble into chaos.

America can uphold the international system by itself. That would certainly
give it the most freedom of action. But America is not an imperial power. A
country that will not provide security fifty miles outside Kabul-one year
after September 11th-is not going to take on the burdens of intervention,
occupation, and nation-building in crisis after crisis around the world.

And why should it, when there is another way? So far, we have handed these
“imperial” missions over to the veryalliesandorganizations-the
international community-of which we are often so skeptical. Today, there
are roughly as many non-American as American troops in Afghanistan, and
most of the costs of Balkan reconstruction have been borne by the European
Union. In the past five years, the United Nations has engaged in nation-
building in Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, Cambodia, and parts of Africa, and
has done better than anyone might have expected. When the international
system is given help from America-most crucially, in the establishment of
peace and order-it can work surprisingly well. The Bush Administration is
right to recognize that consensus is not an end in itself. And some
American concerns about international organizations are valid. Within these
organizations, America faces a special challenge: the United States has
only one vote in most international organizations, and when other countries
want to gang up on it they use these organizations to do so. But these are
the kinds of problems that skillful diplomacy can resolve.

Working to a greater extent through allies and organizations would also
make the United States more secure. This week we may snub Germany, but next
week we will need its help in arresting suspects and shutting down bank
accounts. We will need information from foreign governments on goods
shipped from all over the world to insure that something dangerous-say,
enriched uranium-does not sail into New York Harbor. In fact, the only
sustained protection against the threat of terrorism will come from a new
global process of customs and immigration controls which checks people and
cargo around the world, using the same standards and sharing databases-in
other words, a new international organization. Otherwise, America’s borders
will become the choke point of global traffic-something that would be bad
for the economy as well as for the society. As important, American hegemony
would gain the legitimacy thatcomesfromoperatingthroughan
international consensus.

Without this cloak of respectability, America will face a growing hostility
around the world. During the Cold War, many nations disliked or disagreed
with America-over Vietnam, for example-but they despised the Soviet Union.

The enemy of their enemy was, in the end, their friend. But today, with no
alternative ideology and no competitors, America stands alone in the world.

Everyone else sits in its shadow. This doesn’t mean that other countries
will form military alliances against America; that would be pointless. But
countries will obstruct American purposes whenever and in whatever way they
can, and the pursuit of
American interests will have to be undertaken through coercion rather than
consensus. Anti-Americanism will become the global language of political
protest-the default ideology of opposition-unifying the world’s discontents
and malcontents, some of whom, as we have discovered, can be very

“It is better to be feared than loved,” Machiavelli wrote. But he was
wrong. The Soviet Union was feared by its allies; the United States was
loved, or, at least, liked. Look who’s still around.Americahas
transformed the world with its power but also with its ideals. When China’s
pro-democracy protesters gathered in Tiananmen Square, they builta
makeshift figure that suggested the Statue of Liberty, not an F-16. America
remains the universal nation, the country people across the world believe
should speak for universal values. Its image may not be as benign as
Americans think, but it is, in the end, better than the alternatives. That
is what has made America’s awesome power tolerable to the world for so
long. The belief that America is different is its ultimate source of
strength. If we mobilize all our awesome powers and lose this one, we will
have hegemony-but will it be worth having?
ESSAY -3: The Politics of Rage: Why Do They Hate Us?
To the question “Why do the terrorists hate us?” Americans could be
pardoned for answering, “Why should we care?” The immediate reaction to the
murder of 5,000 innocents is anger, not analysis. Yet anger will not be
enough to get us through what is sure to be a long struggle. For that we
will need answers. The ones we have heard so far have been comforting but
familiar. We stand for freedom and they hate it. We are rich and they envy
us. We are strong and they resent this. All of which is true. But there are
billions of poor and weak and oppressed people around the world. They don’t
turn planes into bombs. They don’t blow themselves up to kill thousands of
civilians. If envy were the cause of terrorism, Beverly Hills, Fifth Avenue
and Mayfair would have become morgues long ago. There is something stronger
at work here than deprivation and jealousy. Something that can move men to
kill but also to die.

Osama bin Laden has an answer–religion. For him and his followers, this is
a holy war between Islam and the Western world. Most Muslims disagree.

Every Islamic country in the world has condemned the attacks of Sept. 11.

To many, bin Laden belongs to a long line of extremists who have invoked
religion to justify mass murder and spur men to suicide. The words “thug,”
“zealot” and “assassin” all come from ancient terror cults–Hindu, Jewish
and Muslim, respectively–that believed they were doing the work of God.

The terrorist’s mind is its own place, and like Milton’s Satan, can make a
hell of heaven, a heaven of hell. Whether it is the Unabomber, Aum
Shinrikyo or Baruch Goldstein (who killed scores of unarmed Muslims in
Hebron), terrorists are almost always misfits who place their own twisted
morality above mankind’s.

But bin Laden and his followers are not an isolated cult like Aum Shinrikyo
or the Branch Davidians or demented loners like Timothy McVeigh and the
Unabomber. They come out of a culture that reinforces their hostility,
distrust and hatred of the West–and of America in particular. This culture
does not condone terrorism but fuels the fanaticism that is at its heart.

To say that Al Qaeda is a fringe group may be reassuring, but it is false.

Read the Arab press in the aftermath of the attacks and you will detect a
not-so-hidden admiration for bin Laden. Or consider this from the Pakistani
newspaper The Nation:
“September 11 was not mindless terrorism for terrorism’s sake. It was
reaction and revenge, even retribution.” Why else is America’s response to
the terror attacks so deeply constrained by fears of an “Islamic backlash”
on the streets? Pakistan will dare not allow Washington the use of its
bases. Saudi Arabia trembles at the thought of having to help us publicly.

Egypt pleads that our strikes be as limited as possible. The problem is not
that Osama bin Laden believes that this is a religious war against America.

It’s that millions of people across the Islamic world seem to agree.

This awkward reality has led some in the West to dust off old essays and
older prejudices redicting a “clash of civilizations” between the West and
Islam. The historian Paul Johnson has argued that Islam is intrinsically an
intolerant and violent religion. Other scholars have disagreed, pointing
out that Islam condemns the slaughter of innocents and prohibits suicide.

Nothing will be solved by searching for “true Islam” or quoting the Quran.

The Quran is a vast, vague book, filled with poetry and contradictions
(much like the Bible).

You can find in it condemnations of war and incitements to struggle,
beautiful expressionsoftoleranceandsternstricturesagainst
unbelievers. Quotations from it usually tell us more about the person who
selected the passages than about Islam. Every religion is compatible with
the best and the worst of humankind. Through its long history, Christianity
has supported inquisitions and anti-Semitism, but also human rights and
social welfare.

Searching the history books is also of limited value. From the Crusades of
the 11th century to the Turkish expansion of the 15th century to the
colonial era in the early 20th century, Islam and the West have often
battled militarily. This tension has existed for hundreds of years, during
which there have been many periods of peace and even harmony. Until the
1950s, for example, Jews and Christians lived peaceably under Muslim rule.

In fact, Bernard Lewis, the pre-eminent historian of Islam, has argued that
for much of history religious minorities did better under Muslim rulers
than they did under Christian ones.

All that has changed in the past few decades. So surely the relevant
question we must ask is, Why are we in a particularly difficult phase right
now? What has gone wrong in the world of Islam that explains not the
conquest of Constantinople in 1453 or the siege of Vienna of 1683 but Sept.

11, 2001?
Let us first peer inside that vast Islamic world. Many of the largest
Muslim countries in the world show little of this anti-American rage. The
biggest, Indonesia, had, until the recent Asian economic crisis, been
diligently following Washington’s advice on economics, with impressive
results. The second and third most populous Muslim countries, Pakistan and
Bangladesh, have mixed Islam and modernity with some success. While both
countries are impoverished, both have voted a woman into power as prime
minister, before most Western countries have done so. Next is Turkey, the
sixth largest Muslim country in the world, a flawed but functioning secular
democracy and a close ally of the West (being a member of NATO).

Only when you get to the Middle East do you see in lurid colors all the
dysfunctions that people conjure up when they think of Islam today. In
Iran, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, the occupied territories and the Persian
Gulf, the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism is virulent, and a raw anti-
Americanism seems to be everywhere. This is the land of suicide bombers,
flag-burners and fiery mullahs. As we strike Afghanistan it is worth
remembering that not a single Afghan has been tied to a terrorist attack
against the United States.

Afghanistan is the campground from which an Arab army is battling America.

But even the Arab rage at America is relatively recent. In the 1950s and
1960s it seemed unimaginable that the United States and the Arab world
would end up locked in a cultural clash. Egypt’s most powerful journalist,
Mohamed Heikal, described the mood at the time: “The whole picture of the
United States… was a glamorous one. Britain and France were fading, hated
empires. The Soviet Union was 5,000 miles away and the ideology of
communism was anathema to the Muslim religion. But America had emerged from
World War II richer, more powerful and more appealing than ever.” I first
traveled to the Middle East in the early 1970s, and even then the image of
America was of a glistening, approachable modernity: fast cars, Hilton
hotels and Coca-Cola. Something happened in these lands. To understand the
roots of anti-American rage in the Middle East, we need to plumb not the
past 300 years of history but the past 30.

Chapter I: The Ruler
It is difficult to conjure up the excitement in the Arab world in the late
1950s as Gamal Abdel Nasser consolidated power in Egypt. For decades Arabs
had been ruled by colonial governors and decadent kings. Now they were
achieving their dreams of independence, and Nasser was their new savior, a
modern man for the postwar era. He was born under British rule, in
Alexandria, a cosmopolitan city that was more Mediterranean than Arab. His
formative years were spent in the Army, the most Westernized segment of the
society. With his tailored suits and fashionable dark glasses, he cut an
energetic figure on the world stage. “The Lion of Egypt,” he spoke for all
the Arab world.

Nasser believed that Arab politics needed to be fired by modern ideas like
self-determination, socialism and Arab unity. And before oil money turned
the gulf states into golden geese, Egypt was the undisputed leader of the
Middle East. So Nasser’s vision became the region’s. Every regime, from the
Baathists in Syria and Iraq to the conservative monarchies of the gulf,
spoke in similar terms and tones. It wasn’t that they were just aping
Nasser. The Middle East desperately wanted to become modern.

It failed. For all their energy these regimes chose bad ideas and
implemented them in worse ways. Socialism producedbureaucracyand
stagnation. Rather than adjusting to the failures of central planning, the
economies neverreallymovedon.Therepublicscalcifiedinto
dictatorships. Third World “nonalignment” became pro-Soviet propaganda.

Arab unity cracked and crumbled as countries discovered their own national
interests and opportunities. Worst of all, Israel humiliated the Arabs in
the wars of 1967 and 1973. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, he
destroyed the last remnants of the Arab idea.

Look at Egypt today. The promise of Nasserism has turned into a quiet
nightmare. The government is efficient in only one area: squashing dissent
and strangling civil society. In the past 30 years Egypt’s economy has
sputtered along while its population has doubled. Unemployment is at 25
percent, and 90 percent of those searching for jobs hold college diplomas.

Once the heart of Arab intellectual life, the country produces just 375
books every year (compared with Israel’s 4,000). For all the angry protests
to foreigners, Egyptians know all this.

Shockingly, Egypt has fared better than its Arab neighbors. Syria has
become one of the world’s most oppressive police states, a country where
25,000 people can be rounded up and killed by the regime with no
consequences. (This in a land whose capital, Damascus, is the oldest
continuously inhabited city in the world.) In 30 years Iraq has gone from
being among the most modern and secular of Arab countries–with women
working, artists thriving, journalists writing–into a squalid playpen for
Saddam Hussein’s megalomania. Lebanon, a diverse, cosmopolitan society with
a capital, Beirut, that was once called the Paris of the East, has become a
hellhole of war and terror. In an almost unthinkable reversal of a global
pattern, almost every Arab country today is less free than it was 30 years
ago. There are few countries in the world of which one can say that.

We think of Africa’s dictators as rapacious, but those in the Middle East
can be just as greedy. And when contrasted with the success of Israel, Arab
failures are even more humiliating. For all its flaws, out of the same
desert Israel has created a functioning democracy, a modern society with an
increasingly high-technology economy and thriving artistic and cultural
life. Israel now has a per capita GDP that equals that of many Western

If poverty produced failure in most of Arabia, wealth produced failure in
the rest of it. The rise of oil power in the 1970s gave a second wind to
Arab hopes. Where Nasserism failed, petroleum would succeed. But it didn’t.

All that the rise of oil prices has done over three decades is to produce a
new class of rich, superficially Western gulf Arabs, who travel the globe
in luxury and are despised by the rest of the Arab world. Look at any
cartoons of gulf sheiks in Egyptian, Jordanian or Syrian newspapers. They
are portrayed in the most insulting, almost racist manner: as corpulent,
corrupt and weak. Most Americans think that Arabs should be grateful for
our role in the gulf war, for we saved Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Most Arabs
think that we saved the Kuwaiti and Saudi royal families. Big difference.

The money that the gulf sheiks have frittered away is on a scale that is
almost impossible to believe. Just one example: a favored prince of Saudi
Arabia, at the age of 25, built a palace in Riyadh for $300 million and, as
an additional bounty, was given a $1 billion commission on the kingdom’s
telephone contract with AT&T. Far from producing political progress, wealth
has actually had some negative effects. It has enriched and empowered the
gulf governments so that, like their Arab brethren, they, too, have become
more repressive over time. The Bedouin societies they once ruled have
become gilded cages, filled with frustrated, bitter and discontented young
men–some of whom now live in Afghanistan and work with Osama bin Laden.

(Bin Laden and some of his aides come from privileged backgrounds in Saudi
By the late 1980s, while the rest of the world was watching old regimes
from Moscow to Prague to Seoul to Johannesburg crack, the Arabs were stuck
with their aging dictators and corrupt kings. Regimes that might have
seemed promising in the 1960s were now exposed astired,corrupt
kleptocracies, deeply unpopular and thoroughly illegitimate. One has to add
that many of them are close American allies.

Chapter II: Failed Ideas
About a decade ago, in a casual conversation with an elderly Arab
intellectual, I expressed my frustration that governments in the Middle
East had been unable to liberalize their economies and societies in the way
that the East Asians had done. “Look at Singapore, Hong Kong and Seoul,” I
said, pointing to their extraordinary economic achievements. The man, a
gentle, charming scholar, straightened up and replied sharply, “Look at
them. They have simply aped the West. Their cities are cheap copies of
Houston and Dallas. That may be all right for fishing villages. But we are
heirs to one of the great civilizations of the world. We cannot become
slums of the West.”
This disillusionment with the West is at the heart of the Arab problem. It
makes economic advance impossible and political progress fraught with
difficulty. Modernization is now taken to mean, inevitably, uncontrollably,
Westernization and, even worse, Americanization. This fear has paralyzed
Arab civilization. In some ways the Arab world seems less ready to confront
the age of globalization than even Africa, despite the devastation that
continent has suffered from AIDS and economic and political dysfunction. At
least the Africans want to adapt to the new global economy. The Arab world
has not yet taken that first step.

The question is how a region that once yearned for modernity could reject
it so dramatically. In the Middle Ages the Arabs studied Aristotle (when he
was long forgotten in the West) and invented algebra. In the 19th century,
when the West set ashore in Arab lands, in the form of Napoleon’s conquest
of Egypt, the locals were fascinated by this powerful civilization. In
fact, as the historian Albert Hourani has documented, the 19th century saw
European-inspired liberal political and social thought flourish in the
Middle East.

The colonial era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries raised hopes of
British friendship that were to be disappointed, but still Arab elites
remained fascinated with the West. Future kings and generals attended
Victoria College in Alexandria, learning the speech and manners of British
gentlemen. Many then went on to Oxford, Cambridge andSandhurst–a
tradition that is still maintained by Jordan’s royal family, though now
they go to Hotchkiss or Lawrenceville. After World War I, a new liberal age
flickered briefly in the Arab world, as ideas about opening up politics and
society gained currency in places like Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria. But
since they were part of a world of kings and aristocrats, these ideas died
with those old regimes. The new ones, however, turned out to be just as

Nasser thought his ideas for Egypt and the Arab world were modern. They
were also Western. His “national charter” of 1962 reads as if it were
written by left-wing intellectuals in Paris or London. (Like many Third
World leaders of the time, Nasser was a devoted reader of France’s Le Monde
and Britain’s New Statesman.) Even his most passionately held project, Pan-
Arabism, was European.

It was a version of the nationalism that had united Italy and Germany in
the 1870s–that those who spoke one language should be one nation. America
thinks of modernity as all good–and it has been almost all good for
America. But for the Arab world, modernity has been one failure after
another. Each path followed–socialism, secularism, nationalism–has turned
into a dead end. While other countries adjusted to their failures, Arab
regimes got stuck in their ways. And those that reformed economically could
not bring themselves to ease up politically. The Shah of Iran, the Middle
Eastern ruler who tried to move his country into the modern era fastest,
reaped the most violent reaction in the Iranian revolution of 1979. But
even the shah’s modernization–compared, for example, with the East Asian
approach of hard work, investment and thrift–was an attempt to buy
modernization with oil wealth.

It turns out that modernization takes more than strongmen and oil money.

Importing foreign stuff–Cadillacs, Gulfstreams and McDonald’s–is easy.

Importing the inner stuffings of modern society–a free market, political
parties, accountability and the rule of law–is difficult and dangerous.

The gulf states, for example, have gotten modernization lite, with the
goods and even the workers imported from abroad. Nothing was homegrown;
nothing is even now. As for politics, the gulf governments offered their
people a bargain: we will bribe you with wealth, but in return let us stay
in power. It was the inverse slogan of the American revolution–no
taxation, but no representation either.

The new age of globalization has hit the Arab world in a very strange way.

Its societies are open enough to be disrupted by modernity, but not so open
that they can ride the wave. They see the television shows, the fast foods
and the fizzy drinks. But they don’t see genuine liberalization in the
society, with increased opportunities and greater openness. Globalization
in the Arab world is the critic’s caricature of globalization–a slew of
Western products and billboards with little else. For some in their
societies it means more things to buy. For the regimes it is an unsettling,
dangerous phenomenon. As a result, the people they rule can look at
globalization but for the most part not touch it.

America stands at the center of this world of globalization. It seems
unstoppable. If you close the borders, America comes in through the mail.

If you censor the mail, it appears in the fast food and faded jeans. If you
ban the products, it seeps in through satellite television. Americans are
so comfortable with global capitalism and consumer culture that we cannot
fathom just how revolutionary these forces are.

Disoriented young men, with one foot in the old world and another in the
new, now look for a purer, simpler alternative. Fundamentalism searches for
such people everywhere; it, too, has been globalized. One can now find men
in Indonesia who regard the Palestinian cause as their own. (Twenty years
ago an Indonesian Muslim would barely have known where Palestine was.)
Often they learned about this path away from the West while they were in
the West. As did Mohamed Atta, the Hamburg-educated engineer who drove the
first plane into the World Trade Center.

The Arab world has a problem with its Attas in more than one sense.

Globalization has caught it at a bad demographic moment. Arab societies are
going through a massive youth bulge, with more than half of most countries’
populations under the age of 25. Young men, often better educated than
their parents, leave their traditional villages to find work. They arrive
in noisy, crowded cities like Cairo, Beirut and Damascus or go to work in
the oil states. (Almost 10 percent of Egypt’s working population worked in
the gulf at one point.) In their new world they see great disparities of
wealth and the disorienting effects of modernity; most unsettlingly, they
see women, unveiled and in public places, taking buses, eating in cafes and
working alongside them.

A huge influx of restless young men in any country is bad news. When
accompanied by even small economic and social change, it usually produces a
new politics of protest. In the past, societies in these circumstances have
fallen prey to a search for revolutionary solutions. (France went through a
youth bulge just before the French Revolution, as did Iran before its 1979
revolution.) In the case of the Arab world, this revolution has taken the
form of an Islamic resurgence.

Chapter III: Enter Religion
Nasser was a reasonably devout Muslim, but he had no interest in mixing
religion with politics. It struck him as moving backward. This became
apparent to the small Islamic parties that supported Nasser’s rise to
power. The most important one, the Muslim Brotherhood, began opposing him
vigorously, often violently.

Nasser cracked down on it in 1954, imprisoning more than a thousand of its
leaders and executing six. One of those jailed, Sayyid Qutub, a frail man
with a fiery pen, wrote a book in prison called “Signposts on the Road,”
which in some ways marks the beginnings of modern political Islam or what
is often called “Islamic fundamentalism.”
In his book, Qutub condemned Nasser as an impious Muslim and his regime as
un-Islamic. Indeed, he went on, almost every modern Arab regime was
similarly flawed. Qutub envisioned a better, more virtuous polity that was
based on strict Islamic principles, a core goal of orthodox Muslims since
the 1880s. As the regimes of the Middle East grew more distant and
oppressive and hollow in the decades following Nasser, fundamentalism’s
appeal grew. It flourished because the Muslim Brotherhood and organizations
like it at least tried to give people a sense of meaning and purpose in a
changing world, something no leader in the Middle East tried to do.

In his seminal work, “The Arab Predicament,” Fouad Ajami explains, “The
fundamentalist call has resonance because it invited men to participate…

in contrast to a political culture that reduces citizens to spectators
and asks them to leave things to their rulers. At a time when the future is
uncertain, it connects them to a tradition that reduces bewilderment.”
Fundamentalism gave Arabs who were dissatisfied with their lot a powerful
language of opposition.

On that score, Islam had little competition. The Arab world is a political
desert with no real political parties, no free press, few pathways for
dissent. As a result, the mosque turned into the place to discuss politics.

And fundamentalist organizations have done more than talk. From the Muslim
Brotherhood to Hamas to Hizbullah, they actively provide social services,
medical assistance, counseling and temporary housing. For thosewho
treasure civil society, it is disturbing to see that in the Middle East
these illiberal groups are civil society.

I asked Sheri Berman, a scholar at Princeton who studies the rise of
fascist parties in Europe, whether she saw any parallels. “Fascists were
often very effective at providing social services,” she pointed out. “When
the state or political parties fail to provide a sense of legitimacy or
purpose or basic services, other organizations have often been able to step
into the void. In Islamic countries there is a ready-made source of
legitimacy in the religion. So it’s not surprising that this is the
foundation on which these groups have flourished. The particular form–
Islamic fundamentalism–is specific to this region, but the basic dynamic
is sim- ilar to the rise of Nazism, fascism and even populism in the United
Islamic fundamentalism got a tremendous boost in 1979 when Ayatollah
Ruhollah Khomeini toppled the Shah of Iran. The Iranianrevolution
demonstrated that a powerful ruler could be taken on by groups within
society. It also revealed how in a broken society even seemingly benign
forces of progress–education and technology–can add to the turmoil. Until
the 1970s most Muslims in the Middle East were illiterate and lived in
villages and towns. They practiced a kind of street-Islam that had adapted
itself to the local culture. Pluralistic and tolerant, these people often
worshiped saints, went to shrines, sang religious hymns and cherished
religious art, all technically disallowed in Islam. (This was particularly
true in Iran.) By the 1970s, however, people had begun moving out of the
villages and their religious experience was not rooted in a specific place.

At the same time they were learning to read and they discovered that a new
Islam was being preached by the fundamentalists, an abstract faith not
rooted in historical experience but literal, puritanical and by the book.

It was Islam of the High Church as opposed to Islam of the village fair.

In Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini used a powerful technology–the audiocassette.

His sermons were distributed throughout the country and became the vehicle
of opposition to the shah’s repressive regime. But Khomeini was not alone
in using the language of Islam as a political tool. Intellectuals,
disillusioned by the half-baked or overrapid modernization thatwas
throwing theirworldintoturmoil,werewritingbooksagainst
“Westoxification” and calling the modern Iranian man–half Western, half
Eastern–rootless. Fashionable intellectuals, often writingfromthe
comfort of London or Paris, would critique American secularismand
consumerism and endorse an Islamic alternative. As theories like these
spread across the Arab world, they appealed not to the poorest of the poor,
for whom Westernization was magical (it meant food and medicine). They
appealed to the half-educated hordes entering the cities of the Middle East
or seeking education and jobs in the West.

The fact that Islam is a highly egalitarian religion for the most part has
also proved an empowering call for people who felt powerless. At the same
time it means that no Muslim really has the authority to question whether
someone who claims to be a proper Muslim is one. The fundamentalists, from
Sayyid Qutub on, have jumped into that the void. They ask whether people
are “good Muslims.” It is a question that has terrified the Muslim world.

And here we come to the failure not simply of governments but intellectual
and social elites. Moderate Muslims are loath to criticize or debunk the
fanaticism of the fundamentalists.

Like the moderates in Northern Ireland, they are scared of what would
happen to them if they speak their mind.

The biggest Devil’s bargain has been made by the moderate monarchies of the
Persian Gulf, particularly Saudi Arabia. The Saudi regime has played a
dangerous game. It deflects attention from its shoddy record at home by
funding religious schools (madrasas) and centers that spread a rigid,
puritanical brand of Islam–Wahhabism. In the past 30 years Saudi-funded
schools have churned out tens of thousands of half-educated, fanatical
Muslims who view the modern world and non-Muslims with great suspicion.

America in this world view is almost always evil.

This exported fundamentalism has in turn infected not just other Arab
societies but countries outside the Arab world, like Pakistan. During the
11-year reign of Gen. Zia ul-Haq, the dictator decided that as he squashed
political dissent he needed allies. He found them in the fundamentalists.

With the aid of Saudi financiers and functionaries, he set up scores of
madrasas throughout the country. They bought him temporary legitimacy but
have eroded the social fabric of Pakistan.

If there is one great cause of the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, it is
the total failure of political institutions in the Arab world. Muslim
elites have averted their eyes from this reality. Conferences at Islamic
centers would still rather discuss “Islam and the Environment” than examine
the dysfunctions of the current regimes. But as the moderate majority looks
the other way, Islam is being taken over by a small poisonous element,
people who advocate cruel attitudes toward women, education, the economy
and modern life in general. I have seen this happen in India, where I grew
up. The rich, colorful, pluralistic and easygoing Islam of my youth has
turned into a dour, puritanical faith, policed by petty theocrats and
religious commissars. The next section deals with what the United States
can do to help the Islamic world. But if Muslims do not take it upon
themselves to stop their religion from falling prey to medievalists,
nothing any outsider can do will save them.

Chapter IV: WHAT TO DO
If almost any Arab were to have read this essay so far, he would have
objected vigorously by now. “It is all very well to talk about the failures
of the Arab world,” he would say, “but what about the failures of the West?
You speak of long-term decline, but our problems are with specific, cruel
American policies.” For most Arabs, relations with the United States have
been filled with disappointment.

While the Arab world has long felt betrayed by Europe’s colonial powers,
its disillusionment with America begins most importantly with the creation
of Israel in 1948. As the Arabs see it, at a time when colonies were
winning independence from the West, here was a state largely composed of
foreign people being imposed on a region with Western backing. The anger
deepened in the wake of America’s support for Israel during the wars of
1967 and 1973, and ever since in its relations with the Palestinians. The
daily exposure to Israel’s iron-fisted rule over the occupied territories
has turned this into the great cause of the Arab–and indeed the broader
Islamic–world. Elsewhere, they look at American policy in the region as
cynically geared to America’s oil interests, supporting thugs and tyrants
without any hesitation. Finally, the bombing and isolation of Iraq have
become fodder for daily attacks on the United States. While many in the
Arab world do not like Saddam Hussein, they believe that the United States
has chosen a particularly inhuman method of fighting him–a method that is
starving an entire nation.

There is substance to some of these charges, and certainly from the point
of view of an Arab, American actions are never going to seem entirely fair.

Like any country, America has its interests. In my view, America’s greatest
sins toward the Arab world are sins of omission. We have neglected to press
any regime there to open up its society. This neglect turned deadly in the
case of Afghanistan. Walking away from that fractured country after 1989
resulted in the rise of bin Laden and the Taliban. This is not the gravest
error a great power can make, but it is a common American one. As F. Scott
Fitzgerald explained of his characters in “The Great Gatsby,” “They were
careless people, Tom and Daisy–they smashed things up and creatures and
then retreated back into their money, or their vast carelessness… and let
other people clean up the mess.” America has not been venal in the Arab
world. But it has been careless.

Yet carelessness is not enough to explain Arab rage. After all, if concern
for the Palestinians is at the heart of the problem, why have their Arab
brethren done nothing for them? (They cannot resettle in any Arab nation
but Jordan, and the aid they receive from the gulf states is minuscule.)
Israel treats its 1 million Arabs as second-class citizens, a disgrace on
its democracy. And yet the tragedy of the Arab world is that Israel accords
them more political rights and dignities than most Arab nations give to
their own people. Why is the focus of Arab anger on Israel and not those
The disproportionate feelings of grievance directed at America have to be
placed in the overall context of the sense of humiliation, decline and
despair that sweeps the Arab world. After all, the Chinese vigorously
disagree with most of America’s foreign policy and have fought wars with
U.S. proxies. African states feel the same sense of disappointment and
unfairness. But they do not work it into a rage against America. Arabs,
however, feel that they are under siege from the modern world and that the
United States symbolizes this world. Thus every action America takes gets
magnified a thousandfold. And even when we do not act, the rumors of our
gigantic powers and nefarious deeds still spread. Most Americans would not
believe how common the rumor is throughout the Arab world that either the
CIA or Israel’s Mossad blew up the World Trade Center to justify attacks on
Arabs and Muslims. This is the culture from which the suicide bombers have

America must now devise a strategy to deal with this form of religious
terrorism. As is now widely understood, this will be a long war, with many
fronts and battles small and large. Our strategy must be divided along
three lines: military, political and cultural. On the military front–by
which I mean war, covert operations and other forms of coercion–the goal
is simple: the total destruction of Al Qaeda. Even if we never understand
all the causes of apocalyptic terror, we must do battle against it. Every
person who plans and helps in a terrorist operation must understand that he
will be tracked and punished. Their operations will be disrupted, their
finances drained, their hideouts destroyed. There will be associated costs
to pursuing such a strategy, but they will all fade if we succeed. Nothing
else matters on the military front.

The political strategy is more complex and more ambitious. At the broadest
level, we now have a chance to reorder the international system around this
pressing new danger. The degree of cooperation from around the world has
been unprecedented. We should not look on this trend suspiciously. Most
governments feel threatened by the rise of subnational forces like Al
Qaeda. Even some that have clearly supported terrorism in the past, like
Iran, seem interested in re-entering the world community and reforming
their ways.

We can define a strategy for the post-cold-war era that addresses America’s
principal national-security need and yet is sustainedbyabroad
international consensus. To do this we will have to give up some cold-war
reflexes, such as an allergy to multilateralism, and stop insisting that
China is about to rival us militarily or that Russia is likely to re-emerge
as a new military threat. (For 10 years now, our defense forces have been
aligned for everything but the real danger we face. This will inevitably
The purpose of an international coalition is practical and strategic. Given
the nature of this war, we will need the constant cooperation of other
governments–to make arrests, shut down safe houses, close bank accounts
and share intelligence. Alliance politics has become a matter of high
national security. But there is a broader imperative. The United States
dominates the world in a way that inevitably arouses envy or anger or
opposition. That comes with the power, but we still need to get things
done. If we can mask our power in–sorry, work with–institutions like the
United Nations Security Council, U.S. might will be easier for much of the
world to bear. Bush’s father understood this, which is why he ensured that
the United Nations sanctioned the gulf war. The point here is to succeed,
and international legitimacy can help us do that.

Now we get to Israel. It is obviously one of the central and most charged
problems in the region. But it is a problem to which we cannot offer the
Arab world support for its solution–the extinction of the state. We cannot
in any way weaken our commitment to the existence and health of Israel.

Similarly, we cannot abandon our policy of containing Saddam Hussein. He is
building weapons of mass destruction.

However, we should not pursue mistaken policies simply out of spite. Our
policy toward Saddam is broken. We have no inspectors in Iraq, the
sanctions are–for whatever reason–starving Iraqis and he continues to
build chemical and biological weapons. There is a way to reorient our
policy to focus our pressure on Saddam and not his people, contain him
militarily but not harm common Iraqis economically. Colin Powell has been
trying to do this; he should be given leeway to try again. In time we will
have to address the broader question of what to do about Saddam, a question
that, unfortunately, does not have an easy answer. (Occupying Iraq, even if
we could do it, does not seem a good idea in this climate.)
On Israel we should make a clear distinction between its right to exist and
its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. On the first we should be as
unyielding as ever; on the second we should continue trying to construct a
final deal along the lines that Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak outlined. I
suggest that we do this less because it will lower the temperature in the
Arab world–who knows if it will?–than because it’s the right thing to do.

Israel cannot remain a democracy and continue to occupy and militarily rule
3 million people against their wishes. It’s bad for Israel, bad for the
Palestinians and bad for the United States.

But policy changes, large or small, are not at the heart of the struggle we
face. The third, vital component to this battle is a cultural strategy. The
United States must help Islam enter the modern world. It sounds like an
impossible challenge, and it certainly is not one we would have chosen. But
America–indeed the whole world–faces a dire security threat that will not
be resolved unless we can stop the political, economic and cultural
collapse that lies at the roots of Arab rage. During the cold war the West
employed myriad ideological strategies to discredittheappealof
communism, make democracy seem attractive and promote open societies. We
will have to do something on that scale to win this cultural struggle.

First, we have to help moderate Arab states, but on the condition that they
embrace moderation. For too long regimes like Saudi Arabia’s have engaged
in a deadly dance with religious extremism. Even Egypt, which has always
denounced fundamentalism, allows its controlled media to rant crazily about
America and Israel. (That way they don’t rant about the dictatorship they
live under.) But more broadly, we must persuade Arab moderates to make the
case to their people that Islam is compatible with modern society, that it
does allow women to work, that it encourages education and that it has
welcomed people of other faiths and creeds. Some of this they will do–
Sept. 11 has been a wake-up call for many. The Saudi regime denounced and
broke its ties to the Taliban (a regime that it used to glorify as
representing pure Islam). The Egyptian press is now making the case for
military action. The United States and the West should do their own work as
well. We can fund moderate Muslim groups and scholars and broadcast fresh
thinking across the Arab world, all aimed at breaking the power of the

Obviously we will have to help construct a new political order in
Afghanistan after we have deposed the Taliban regime. But beyond that we
have to press the nations of the Arab world–and others, like Pakistan,
where the virus of fundamentalism has spread–to reform, open up and gain
legitimacy. We need to do business with these regimes; yet, just as we did
with South Korea and Taiwan during the cold war, we can ally with these
dictatorships and still push them toward reform. For those who argue that
we should not engage in nation-building, I would say foreign policy is not
theology. I have myself been skeptical of nation-building in places where
our interests were unclear and it seemed unlikely that we would stay the
course. In this case, stable political development is the key to reducing
our single greatest security threat. We have no option but to get back into
the nation-building business.

It sounds like a daunting challenge, but there are many good signs. Al
Qaeda is not more powerful than the combined force of many determined
governments. The world is indeed uniting around American leadership, and
perhaps we will see the emergence, for a while, of a new global community
and consensus, which could bring progress in many otherareasof
international life. Perhaps most important, Islamic fundamentalism still
does not speak to the majority of the Muslim people. In Pakistan,
fundamentalist parties have yet to get more than 10 percent of the vote. In
Iran, having experienced the brutal puritanism of the mullahs, people are
yearning for normalcy.InEgypt,foralltherepression,the
fundamentalists are a potent force but so far not dominant. If the West can
help Islam enter modernity in dignity and peace, it will have done more
than achieved security. It will have changed the world.

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