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Washington Post: take the longer road to victory

And it must hold countries around the world accountable:
Cooperation in the war effort must be an absolute requirement for friendly relations with the United
States. A rejection of such cooperation, or support for the terrorists, should define an adversary of
this country and bring about serious political, economic or military consequences.
The Road Ahead











Thursday, September 13, 2001; Page A30





PRESIDENT BUSH and key members of his administration have begun to articulate some clear


principles in response to the unprecedented assault by terrorists on the United States. Yesterday Mr.


Bush said the attacks were not just incidents of terrorism but "acts of war" and promised in response


a "battle [that] will take time and resolve." Secretary of State Colin Powell also sketched a plan of


engagement extending well beyond the pursuit of individual terrorists; he spoke of "a multifaceted


attack along many dimensions -- diplomatic, military, intelligence, law enforcement" -- that would


target multiple organizations and seek to build a global alliance. He added: "There are states, there are


organizations that provide haven. And these states and organizations cannot be given a free ride


anymore."





These are the right foundations for what should be the national security policy of an America at war.


The policy must have the aim of decisive victory over an aggressor that has attacked the country, not


one-time retaliation or criminal prosecution for an act of terrorism. It must seek to enlist allies around


the world in a concerted assault against the organizations, or states, that carried out the aggression or


that have declared war against America. And it must hold countries around the world accountable:


Cooperation in the war effort must be an absolute requirement for friendly relations with the United


States. A rejection of such cooperation, or support for the terrorists, should define an adversary of


this country and bring about serious political, economic or military consequences.





Following through on this policy will require a major realignment of priorities and resources by the


Bush administration, bipartisan support in Congress and a national commitment by a society prepared


to make sacrifices. It cannot be merely one of the administration's priorities; it must, at least for a


good while, be its overriding purpose -- just as the pursuit of victory has been in previous American


wars. To begin with, Mr. Bush should seek and Congress should approve appropriations that will


allow the country -- its armed forces, intelligence community and law enforcement -- to fight the war


as it should be fought. The failures in security and intelligence that contributed to Tuesday's


catastrophe must be identified and quickly remedied.





But more than funding, victory in this war will require summoning the will to alter America's approach


to the world. Success against dispersed terrorist networks in remote areas of the world is unlikely


unless the United States can assemble and lead a global alliance. Ideally such an alliance would


include Russia, China and some Islamic states, as well as NATO allies. But alliance politics cannot


constrain the United States from forcefully attacking the terrorist networks, or confronting the


governments that openly or tacitly support them. The Clinton administration sidestepped such action


in part by fighting terrorists with FBI criminal investigations, which assign responsibility to individuals,


not governments. In some cases -- such as the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen last year -- the


United States has found itself the nominal partner of a government with an interest in shielding some


suspects. In others, such as Taliban-ruled Afghanistan or Saddam Hussein's Iraq, ineffectual sanctions


have thinly disguised the absence of a serious strategy or the determination to pursue it.





Holding governments accountable will require far more aggressive action. That doesn't necessarily


mean military ground wars -- as the Soviet Union learned in Afghanistan, military invasions can


backfire, or serve to exacerbate extremist movements in other places. But neither can the United


States shrink from action because it costs too much or might cause casualties. A foreign policy based


too heavily on avoiding short-term risk helped bring about the present crisis. To deliver on the strong


commitments they have made to Americans in the past two days, President Bush and his Cabinet


must summon the fortitude, and the political support, to take the longer road to victory.





© 2001 The Washington Post Company


 
 

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