President Bush’s decision to take pre-emptive action against terrorist groups and states is wholly consistent with the Bush Doctrine. He should apply that same consistency in his decision on whether to support the creation of a Palestinian state.
When President Bush explained that terrorists would have to be rooted out, financially paralyzed and their training grounds destroyed, he couldn’t have expressed his intention of taking the war to the terrorists more clearly. Pre-emptive action was just a matter of time.
There are reasons for this. Unlike the Cold War with Soviet Communist leaders conspicuously pounding the table and promising to bury us, our terrorist enemies lurk in the shadows. They submit to no rules – even rules of war. They don’t negotiate because what they want is not negotiable. And they cannot be deterred through military strength because they have no respect for human life – often including their own, and owe no loyalty to any nation state that we might otherwise retaliate against.
President Bush couldn’t have been more correct, then, in saying, “If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long,” nor could Condoleezza Rice in noting that there are times when “you can’t wait to be attacked to respond.”
Now that President Bush is putting the final touches on this primary pillar of the Bush Doctrine – that offense will be an integral part of our defense – he should firmly reinforce its other pillar: that the United States is not in this war alone – we have allies, not the least being Israel, who are being terrorized by a common enemy. The Bush Doctrine applies to them with equal vigor.
When he first articulated his policy toward terrorism, Bush made it very clear that terrorism constituted a global threat, affecting more than just the United States. He didn’t announce mere unilateral action by the United States, but called on other nations to join him in rooting out terrorists. His multi-faceted strategy necessarily involves the support and cooperation of foreign nations. Even if we aren’t as dependent on military assistance from other countries, their participation in the intelligence and financial components of the war are critical.
Indeed, in his speech to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 20, 2001, he challenged “every nation in every region” to decide whether they were with us or with the terrorists. He indicated that nations would demonstrate their decision more through their actions than their words. Any nation “that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.”
Notice that Bush didn’t define hostile regimes as only those friendly to anti-American terrorists. And in further speeches, he elaborated that our enemies also included terrorists that threatened other countries. He affirmed the worldwide reach of the war and that literally every nation was potentially involved and may ultimately have to take sides.
After having laid out such a cogent blueprint for the war against terror, President Bush stepped on the Middle East landmine, and in the process undermined his own brilliant doctrine by refusing to allow Israel to adopt its universal principles. What was good for us, it turns out, was not good for Israel – even though they have endured, in relative terms, enormously more terror than we have. Bush continually urged Israel to negotiate with terrorists and to respond to terror through diplomacy instead of force.
The president could more than redeem himself in this respect and simultaneously consummate the Bush Doctrine when he addresses the issue of a Palestinian state in an upcoming speech. He could say that from day one in this war he has denounced terrorists and states that harbor and support them – against not just the United States, but other nations as well, including Israel. And at this time, a Palestinian state is completely unacceptable under the Bush Doctrine because the Palestinian leadership is committed to the very destruction of Israel – as are the Palestinian people, as a recent poll revealed in no uncertain terms.
Conferring the Palestinians with national sovereignty would be the ultimate reward for terrorism and the formal sanctioning of a terrorist state. It would also make Israel immeasurably more vulnerable to attack, by Palestinians and others.
Until the Palestinians abandon their goal of liberating historic Palestine in its entirety, neither an interim nor permanent Palestinian state can be reconciled with America’s interests, Israel’s interests or the Bush Doctrine.