- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2001

About the president of the United States, one question has become critical and pivotal. Is he a man of constancy in

his conduct of the war against terrorism?

Most Americans, this one included, certainly thought so after his vibrant passionate denunciation of terrorists in New York City and Washington, demanding their elimination and their financiers, quartermasters, trainers and strategists around the world.

Then he began sprinkling enormously valuable instruments and policies of war among a variety of terrorist nations, while at the same time playing down the importance of the democratic ally, the only one in the Middle East,which has been a terrorist target for a half-century.

Now we can no longer just assume that talking antiterrorism is the same thing as taking them on wherever they are and particularly when they are using their strength against a democratic friend.

Few questions are more pertinent even about a leader of a free nation than those about antiterrorism. Ironically, the questions are more pertinent about a leader of a free nation than asking them of a dictator.

Years before a tyrant takes power he constantly and continuously pounds it home to his people that his rule will be iron forever and that no act of force, no available weapon, no weapon of the near future, no alliance will be refused or ended so long as its existence suits the dictator's purpose.

He decrees the peoples' future, including making war without concept of mercy.

Everybody in a dictatorship who is against the war knows they should stay home with their mouths shut against protest like Afghan intellectuals and clerics. Anyway, more Americans seem to be terribly annoyed that if and when U.S. forces go into action they will be dropping weapons with more power than thrown rocks. They are very romantic about Palestinian terrorists until one lands on their head.

The first jewels of the Afghan war were distributed within days after it began.

The United Nations security council voted to lift economic sanctions on the Sudan. The U.S. abstained when hands were raised for the vote.

That allowed the United States to duck the shame of pending U.S. legislation that would have permitted the Sudan to trade freely in oil its most valuable product. The crimes of the Sudan and its coup-installed government are so numerous it would take a library to list them slavery, government-arranged famine directed at the opposition, murders of Christians, no civil rights to speak or think of.

On the Internet, read the Sudan chapter in the State Department's annual human-rights volume, a particular chapter of man-made hell. And remember the sickening comment of a State Department spokesman, who said there are two kinds of terrorism, the plain ordinary evil kind by violent people, and the "different" kind that had to be handled in the Middle East by Israelis and Palestinians.

Then a few days ago the Bush administration let loose the news that President Bush was planning to recognize a Palestinian State, the first Republican administration to say so, Leaving aside the merits or dangers of a Palestinian state, letting this news loose during the first days of the war is a gift to the Arabs and a punch in the face to Israel. The purpose theoretically was to get more Arab states into the alliance and eliminate any possibility of future Israeli participation.

After the news was made public, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, New York's hero, spoke before the United Nations delegates. Like it or not they heard a man of constancy. He repeated President Bush's early theme of you're for us or against us.

Then he followed with a sentence that should be repeated without end: "The era of moral relativism on terrorism must end."

You don't have to be a diplomat or a president to keep your compass true. In fact, Mr. Giuliani showed that absence of those experiences can be of substantial help to a man of constancy.

A.M. Rosenthal, former executive editor of the New York Times, is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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