Skip to main content
The largest online newspaper archive
A Publisher Extra® Newspaper

Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois • Page 2-9

Chicago Tribunei
Chicago, Illinois
Issue Date:
Extracted Article Text (OCR)

123456 SECTION2CHICAGO TRIBUNE 9 COMMENTARY: Manuscripts may be submitted to the Op-Ed Page by mail, e-mail or fax (312-222-2598). Because of the volume of submissions, we acknowledge only those that we intend to use. Manuscripts sent by mail will be returned only if they are accompanied by a self- addressed, stamped envelope LETTERS: We invite readers to share their thoughts with us by writing to the Voice of the People, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Chicago, IL 60611, by e-mail to ctc-TribLetter or via fax to 312222-2598. Include your name, address and phone number.

The more concise the letter, the better the chances for publication. COMMENTARY By Henry A. Kissinger A the anniversary of the Sept. 11terror attack draws near, President Bush is facing the most consequential foreign policy decision of his presidency. The president and Secretary of State Colin Powell have repeatedly stated that the U.S.

insists on a regime change in Iraq. In an eloquent June address at West Point, Bush stressed that new weapons of mass destruction no longer permit America the luxury of waiting for an attack, that we must ready for pre-emptive action when necessary to defend our At the same time, the position is that no decision to resort to force has yet been taken. Ambiguity often can help create awareness without encumbering the discussion with the need for decision. But when ambiguity reaches the point of inviting leaks concerning military planning, congressional debate and allied pressures, the time has come to define a comprehensive policy for America and the rest of the world. The new approach is revolutionary.

Regime change as a goal for military intervention challenges the international system established by the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, which, after the carnage of the religious wars, established the principle of non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other states. And the notion of justified pre-emption runs counter to international law, which sanctions the use of force in self-defense only against actual, not potential, threats. Therefore, U.S. intervention in Iraq will be supported only grudgingly, if at all, by most European allies. The Middle East will be split into an inarticulate group, which will be weighing relief from radical pressures authored by Baghdad against the rising dangers from the local Arab street, and radical Islamists, already enraged by the American presence in the region.

As for other nations, Russia will balance the blow to Arab radicalism against its economic stake in Iraq and the benefits of American goodwill against its fear of being marginalized. China will view pre-emptive action in terms of its reluctance to justify intervention in its own country against its desire for a cooperative relationship with the U.S. during a period of political succession and integration into the world economy via the World Trade Organization. The most interesting, and potentially fateful, reaction may well be which will be tempted to apply the new principle of pre-emption against Pakistan. To find its way through this thicket, the Bush administration needs to establish a comprehensive strategy.

Nor can a conflict of such import be sustained as an expression of executive power alone. A way must be found to obtain adequate congressional and public support for the chosen course. The administration should be prepared to undertake a national debate because the case for removing capacity of mass destruction is extremely strong. The international regimen following the Treaty of Westphalia was based on the concept of an impermeable nation-state and a limited military technology, which generally permitted a nation to run the risk of awaiting an unambiguous challenge. But the terrorist threat transcends the nation-state; it derives in large part from transnational groups that, if they acquire weapons of mass destruction, could inflict catastrophic, even irretrievable, damage.

That threat is compounded when these weapons are being built in direct violation of UN resolutions by a ruthless autocrat who sought to annex one of his and attacked another, with a demonstrated record of hostility toward America and the existing international system. The case is all the stronger because Sad- dam expelled UN inspectors installed as part of the settlement of the Gulf War and has used these weapons against his own population and against a foreign adversary. This is why policies that deterred the Soviet Union for 50 years are unlikely to work against capacity to cooperate with terrorist groups. Suicide bombing has shown that the calculations of jihad fighters are not those of the Cold War principals. And the terrorists have no national base to protect.

Therefore, the concern that war with Iraq could unleash Iraqi weapons of mass destruction on Israel and Saudi Arabia is a demonstration of self-deterrence. If the danger exists, waiting will only magnify possibilities for blackmail. There is anotherreason for bringing matters to a head with Iraq. The attack on the World Trade Center had roots in many parts of the Islamic, and especially the Arab, world. It would not have been possible but for the tacit cooperation of societies that, in the words of President Bush, terror but tolerate the hatred that produces While long-range American strategy must try to overcome legitimate causes of those resentments, immediate policy must demonstrate that a terrorist challenge or a systemic attack on the international order produces catastrophic consequences for the perpetrators as well as their supporters, tacit or explicit.

The campaign in Afghanistan was an important first step. But if it remains the principal move in the war against terrorism, it runs the risk of petering out into an intelligence operation while the rest of the region gradually slides back to the pre-Sept. 11pattern, with radicals encouraged by the demonstration of American hesitation and moderates demoralized by the continuation of an unimpaired Iraq as an aggressive regional power. The overthrow of the Iraq regime and, at a minimum, the eradication of its weapons of mass destruction, would have potentially beneficent political consequences as well: The so- called Arab street may conclude that the negative consequences of jihad outweigh any potential benefits. It could encourage a new approach in Syria; strengthen moderate forces in Saudi Arabia; multiply pressures for a democratic evolution in Iran; demonstrate to the Palestinian Authority that America is serious about overcoming corrupt tyrannies; and bring about a better balance in oil policy within OPEC.

Even when, on issues of ultimate national security such as Iraq, America acts alone, it is in our national interest to couple it with a program of postwar reconstruction conveying to the rest of the world that our first pre-emptive war has been imposed by necessity and that we seek the interests, not exclusively our own. For this reason, the objective of regime change should be subordinated in American declaratory policy to the need to eliminate weapons of mass destruction from Iraq as required by the UN resolutions. The restoration of the inspection system existing before its expulsion by Saddam is clearly inadequate. It is necessary to propose a stringent inspection system that achieves substantial transparency of Iraqi institutions. Since the consequences of simply letting the diplomacy run into the ground are so serious, a time limit should be set.

The case for military intervention will then have been made in the context of seeking a common approach. At that point, too, allies will be obliged to face the choice they have thus far evaded: between their domestic opposition or estrangement from the U.S. Dissociation from U.S. actions will not save the allies from the consequences of abdication in a world of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction and distancing themselves from an ally of half a century. Special attention must be paid to the political and psychological framework vis-a-vis the Arab world.

An explanation is needed of why Iraqi weapons of mass destruction impede the solution of all matters of concern in the area not in Western categories of security but in terms relevant to upheavals in the region. This is why it is so important to couple military pressures with a program of economic and social reconstruction in which allies and moderate Arab regimes should be invited to participate. At the same time, the administration should reject the siren song that an Iraqi intervention should be preceded by a solution of the Palestine issue. It is not true that the road to Baghdad leads through Jerusalem. Much more likely, the road to Jerusalem will lead through Baghdad.

In all probability, Iraq is much weaker and America orders of magnitude stronger than in the Gulf War. But planning should be based on the visible availability of an overwhelming force capable of dealing with all contingencies and not on the expectation of a quick Iraqi collapse. Principal reliance on air power and local indigenous opposition forces is too dangerous, for it leaves no margin for error or miscalculation. And it may place these local forces in a predominant political position, foreclosing other political options. A conspicuous American deployment in the region is therefore necessary to support the diplomacy to destroy weapons of mass destruction and to provide a margin for quick victory if military action proves the only recourse.

It may also serve to motivate Iraqi leaders considering the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. In the end, however, Iraq policy will be judged by the way the aftermath of military operations is handled politically. Precisely because of the precedent-setting nature of this war, its outcome will determine the way American actions will be viewed internationally far more than the way we entered it. And we may find many more nations willing to cooperate in reconstruction than in warfare if only because no country wants to see an exclusive position for America in a region so central to energy supplies and international stability. This could be the way to relate unilateral American action to an international system.

Military intervention will confront the U.S. with how to preserve the unity and ensure the territorial integrity of a country that is an essential component of any Gulf equilibrium. The conventional answer of a federal solution to enable the Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish ethnic groups of Iraq to live together without domination by one of them is appropriate. But any serious planning would have to consider the means to prevent autonomy from turning to independence, which, in the case of the Kurds, would risk Turkish support for the military phase. And all this will have to take place in the context of a government with participants capable of resisting pressures from the remnants of the old regime or from neighboring countries determined to destabilize the emerging system.

Military intervention should be attempted only if we are willing to sustain such an effort for however long it is needed. For, in the end, the task is to translate intervention in Iraq into terms of general applicability for an international system. The imminence of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the huge dangers it involves, the rejection of a viable inspection system and the demonstrated hostility of Saddam Hussein all combine to produce an imperative for preemptive action. But it is not in the American national interest to establish pre-emption as a universal principle available to every nation. And we are only at the beginning of the threat of global proliferation.

Whatever the views regarding Iraq, the nations of the world must face the impossibility of letting such a process run unchecked. The United States would contribute much to a new international order if it invited the rest of the world, and especially the major nuclear powers, to cooperate in creating a system to deal with this challenge to humanity on a more institutional basis. Tribune Media Services Henry A. Kissinger was the U.S. secretary of state from 1973 to 1977.

He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973. AP photo by Jassim Mohammed Saddam Hussein (background) has told his countrymen that any troops attacking Iraq be digging their own Iraq is becoming Bush's most difficult challenge AP photo by Joe Ellis President Bush must realize that intervention in Iraq must be conceived as part of a continuum whose ultimate success depends both on the strategy that precedes and follows it. Whatever the views regarding Iraq, the nations of the world must face the impossibility of letting such a process run unchecked. blind rage? What needs equal time is a sane response to those who generalize all of Islam as just because a few fanatical factions insist on taking scriptures out of context to wage holy war. no more fair than those who denounce Christianity because fanatics during the Inquisition, the Crusades and similar tragic moments in history used the Book of Joshua and other scriptures to torture and slaughter non-Christians in name.

some Christians who may see themselves as new Joshuas, some Muslims portray the West as equivalent to say this for Bill Unlike some other windbags of radio and TV, not afraid to invite guests on his Fox News Channel program who, even if not listening, show the rest of the world just how wrong he can be. One recent example involved a book that has put a burr under saddle. It is a book about the Koran, the holy book of Islam, that the University of North Carolina is requiring incoming freshmen to read over the summer. If they want to read the book, titled the Early by Michael A. professor of comparative religion at Haverford College, they have to write a 300-word essay explaining why.

less than one single- spaced typewritten page, not exactly heavy lifting for a student at a respected university. The important thing, as Robert Kirkpatrick, the professor who chose the book, explained on TV show is this: First-year students need to know that a member of an academic com- munitythey have to learn to think and to read and to write and to defend their right. Start pushing a book on college freshmen and, who knows? They might try reading another one. what college is supposed to be about. It is not just a time for learning but a time to arouse curiosity in preparation for a lifetime of learning.

That process begins when you learn not only to have opinions but also how to express and defend them. defending the right not to read the book is something that will be very interesting to the professor said. Indeed, it should be at least as interestingas listening to showman-journalist explainwhy he will not read the book. According to a Fox transcript, he called assignment compared it to assigning during World War II and asked why should freshmen be required to study Yes, there is a lot more to Islam than Osama bin Laden and his violent brethren, but apparently not in mind. mean, I give people a book during World War II on the emperor is God in Japan.Would Kirkpatrick said.

not? that have explained kamikaze a sensible answer, not that sensibleness gets you anywhere on high-energy cable TV news-talk shows these days or, for that matter, in religious politics. Since outrage was broadcast, UNC has come under fire from politicians and religious activists. A Virginia- based Christian group called the Family Policy Network has filed suit against the university, charging that it is unconstitutional for a publicly funded university to require students to study a specific religion. And a North Carolina state legislative committee voted to pull public funds from the reading assignment unless other religions get equal time. Perhaps that will please the for starters.

But not to worry, folks. Part of the assignment is to discuss the book in the fall within the context of other religions. Still, North Republican State Rep. Sam Ellis said quite bluntly on a campus radio show that students should not be to study this No? Maybe they just stumble blindly into the world, guided by theirown those who attacked Muhammad and his followers and call for jihad author Sells wrote in Washington Post. we can only identify and counter them if we avoid assuming all Muslims interpret the Koran in the same Quite right.

I deeply regret that wehave not given our children a more peaceful world to inherit, but a bright bunch. figure out that they need to be reading more books, not fewer. Clarence Page is a member of the editorial board. E-mail: Dummying up: For fear of reading a book about the Koran Clarence Page Bill.

Get access to

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 300+ newspapers from the 1700's - 2000's
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Publisher Extra® Newspapers

  • Exclusive licensed content from premium publishers like the Chicago Tribune
  • Archives through last month
  • Continually updated

About Chicago Tribune Archive

Pages Available:
Years Available: