- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 9, 2001

Some straight talking is needed from President George Bush in the nation's war on terrorism. He has boldly shouted from the hilltops that the United States will treat any nation that shelters or abets terrorists as a principal in their terrorist villainies. Without lowering an octave, the president has bugled that all terrorists and terrorist organizations will be pursued with equal implacability irrespective of race, religion, ethnicity, geography or political objectives.

Although Mr. Bush's categorical condemnation of terrorism is electrifying rhetoric, it is mischievous nonsense. The United States is not, will not, and should not treat all nations aiding terrorism alike. Ditto for terrorists or terrorist organizations. The national security and welfare of the United States should be our lodestar on the international stage whether we are fighting terrorism or otherwise.

The president represents the interests of United States citizens, not noncitizen victims of terrorism outside our borders. The latter neither vote, nor pay taxes, nor serve in the armed forces nor otherwise participate in our government of the people, by the people, and for the people. The loyalties of foreigners and foreign governments lie elsewhere.

We are neither legally nor morally responsible as a nation for the welfare of mankind generally, even when things as odious as terrorism or genocide are afoot. We played spectator to genocides in Rwanda and Cambodia that might have been thwarted with muscular United States military interventions. But the interventions would have meant United States casualties for causes trivial to our national security. Subordinating the lives, limbs and fortunes of our citizens to an altruistic concern for humanity or morality generally in the conduct of foreign policy smacks more of national treason than of duty. The tale of the Good Samaritan is for individuals seeking salvation, not for nations vying for power on behalf of their disparate constituents.

We should state these truths with candor and without embarrassment.

They are concessions to the nondivine in human nature. Self-interest governs the actions of all nations, whether they so say or not. President Bush should openly concede that our war against terrorist governments and terrorist organizations will be more or less fervent based on the degree of danger to United States citizens and our national security.

That is what he is doing in any event. Thus, the United States has issued ultimatums to Taliban and is massing troops against the regime, Osama bin Laden, and his al-Qaeda terrorist network because of their implication in a terrorist war against our citizens and nation.

In contrast, President Bush is doing no such thing against the seven nations we officially list as sponsors of terrorism: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Cuba, North Korea and Syria. Indeed, we have been flirting with the support of Iran and Syria for our impending warfare in Afghanistan; but Iran is implicated in the Khobar Towers bombing that killed U.S. soldiers in Saudi Arabia and succors the Hezbollah terrorist organization in south Lebanon; and Syria provides safe haven for the terrorist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, General Command, the Palestine Islamic Jihad, the Fatah-the-Intifada, and Hamas.

We have welcomed the assistance of India in our anti-Taliban campaign; yet India turns a blind eye to the sheltering, aid and comfort its state of Tamil Nadu gives to Tamil Tiger terrorists seeking to vivisect Sri Lanka.

President Bush has recruited Pakistan as an ally despite its notorious complacency with the Pakistan-based terrorist organization Harakat ul-Mujahideen and its recurring deadly forays into Kashmir.

Russia terrorizes Chechnya with scorched-earth warfare against civilians, but we are thick allies against Taliban, bin Laden, and al Qaeda.

Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority permits Hamas and sister terrorist organizations to operate with virtual impunity against Israel, but President Bush is seeking to woo them away from the terrorism by diplomacy, not military force.

Colombia sports three terrorist organizations implicated in drug trafficking and kidnaps: FARC, AUC and ELN. Yet the idea that the United States will wage war against the three is preposterous, even if they destroy Colombia as a nation. Neither is President Bush planning warfare against the Abu Sayyaf Group in the Philippines, the Revolutionary Organization 17 November in Greece, or the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) in Spain.

President Bush insists we will not flag in our exaltation of human rights in fighting terrorism, yet the next day he cozies with flagrant human-rights violators Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to do what he said he would not.

Thus, imitating Lord Byron's Julia, Mr. Bush, whispering he'll never consent, consents.

Making truth the first casualty of our war against terrorism carries a price. Other nations and peoples are more resentful of pious hypocrisy than of Realpolitik bluntness. World War I was not a war for democracy; World War II was not a war for the Atlantic Charter freedoms; and, the war against the Taliban, bin Laden, and al-Qaeda is not a campaign to eliminate terrorism in all its moods and tenses. Nothing is gained by denying the obvious.

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