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34th Year of Publication

   JANUARY 2004 -  Issue #163    


Is Bush Serious About the War on Terror?

Herbert Zweibon

Is the Bush administration serious about the war against international terror?

Writing recently in National Review Online, scholar Michael Ledeen points out that immediately after the 9/11 attacks, America seemed determined to confront global terror head-on, "but our instant understanding of the world after the terror attacks has long since been diluted by the usual triumph of old reflexes and bureaucratic emphasis on procedure at the expense of content."

As examples of those "old reflexes," Ledeen cites the administration's failure to deal with Iran's nuclear threat, or Syria's sponsorship of terrorist groups (such as Hezbollah), and Bush's gentle approach to Saudi Arabia.

"Our diplomats are so intent on pretending that we can 'work with' Iran, that they failed to take any serious steps to prevent the recent appeasement of the mullahs' covert nuclear program," Ledeen writes. Likewise regarding Damascus: "If we were serious about waging war against our enemies, we would have put enormous pressure on the Syrians to shut down the network of terrorist facilities in Lebanon, and expel Hezbollah," he continues.

"It seems the administration has decided to 'manage' Iraq until Election Day, and then take stock of the situation," Ledeen explains. The idea is to refrain from taking the initiative, refrain from expanding the war on terror beyond Baghdad; just do enough to be able to say "yes, we are rounding up lots of bad guys," in order to impress voters.

Ledeen may be right, but the problem goes well beyond managing the situation until the election. President Bush has lost the moral compass evident in those splendid speeches when he said the war was against terror and those who harbored terrorists and identified the axis of evil, those regimes which seek weapons of mass destruction and are prepared to provide them to terrorists. In Korea, as Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, has pointed out, "North Korean nuclear and missile programs now operate with impunity inside the hermit kingdom" and the "six-party talks designed to pressure North Korea into disarmament have transformed into a mechanism to pressure the United States into conciliatory gestures toward the Kim Jong Il regime."

But the loss of direction and purpose is most evident in the President's policy toward the Arab-Israel conflict, the litmus test in the war against terror. And the failure here was apparent from the start, in the President's much-praised speech to the UN on June 24, 2002 when he outlined his two-state "vision." The President ignored what we at AFSI pointed out in our pamphlet "The Palestinians" in 1977: "The Arabs of Palestine have allowed themselves to be defined as an 'anti-nation,' one that derives its entire meaning and purpose from the desire to destroy another nation." But when that reality thrust itself upon him, when instead of the "new and different Palestinian leadership...not compromised by terror" he called for in his speech, he found that Arafat simply consolidated his power, the President did a U-turn and pressured Israel to accomodate the terror-master. Far from asserting pressure on the Palestinian Authority, the President has agreed to send yet more aid to Arafat's corrupt kleptocracy. (For a chilling look at Arafat and Co.'s misappropriation of donor funds and how the money is used to fund terror, see Rachel Ehrenfeld's new book Funding Evil.) Meanwhile Arafat has proclaimed his "sadness" at the capture of Saddam while the Palestinian Arab "anti-nation" took to the streets to demonstrate its undying love for Saddam.

To fight terror effectively, President Bush needs to match his noble rhetoric with deeds and to adopt a policy that does not distinguish between terrorists and their promoters, whether they are named Saddam, Bashar, Kim Jong, Osama, or Yasser.  

Herbert Zweibon is chairman of Americans For a Safe Israel.


Onward Muslim Soldiers   by Hugh Fitzgerald ...3

Invasion of the Rhino-Snatchers   by Jack Engelhard ...6

A Letter from Ida Nudel ...7

January 2004               - 1 -               Outpost


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