- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 2, 2002

Most of us have said that September 11 changed America without really knowing what we were talking about. Of course, we could all cite some specifics, such as X-raying our shoes, or worrying about mass deaths from future terrorist attacks. But understandably, our anticipation of fundamental change was greater than our ability to predict its nature.
But as the months drift on, one can begin to discern part of the future landscape. The recent Israeli-Palestinian and Indian-Pakistani incidents have revealed that the U.S. war on terrorism while absolutely necessary has legitimized military anti-terrorism for other nations. We have unleashed powerful sovereign urges to decisively suppress ethnic self-determination.
Moreover, we have converted what were regional and inconclusive events that had little impact on the larger world to the global level with serious implications for world stability.
On September 11, we declared as our policy the use of all force necessary including invasion and conquest of other sovereignties to defeat all terrorist organizations of "global reach." We carefully did not define that term. But when Israel complained of terrorist attacks from the Palestinians, we agreed to identify Hamas and Hezbollah as such entities. We further instructed Yasser Arafat to arrest and suppress all such terrorism, while giving Israel the yellow (or green?) light to militarily act towards the Palestinian terrorists as we had against the Afghan-based terrorists.
Then, in the last fortnight, we similarly designated the Pakistan-based organization Lashkar-i-tayyaba as a terrorist organization and insisted that Pakistan arrest and suppress them. Logically following on our action against Afghanistan and Israel's action against the West Bank Palestinians, India the aggrieved victim of Pakistan-based terrorism has sent a million soldiers to its Pakistani border and threatened war.
Of course, Washington asks India to show restraint, just as we asked Israel. But given our precedent in Afghanistan, not only would we seem hypocritical to demand restraint that we did not exercise ourselves, it would actually be destructive of our war on terrorism.
We have asked and needed the diplomatic, law-enforcement, banking, logistic and military help of countries across the globe in our own struggle. We will not long continue to receive such help if we refuse equivalent help to other countries similarly situated. Therein lies an important piece of the near future of world history. The war on terrorism is indivisible or it is futile.
And, it is in the nature of such terrorist threats, that we will line up with the currently legitimate sovereigns against ethnic, religious or regional irredentist demands for Wilsonian self-determination. It was only a few years ago that we fought a war in Kosovo on behalf of Muslim, Albanian separatists against Serbian suppression. Then we were on the side of the group that today would be called the terrorists (that is what Slobodan Milosevic called the Kosovars in 1995).
It was only a few months ago that we rhetorically supported the Muslim Chechens against suppression from Moscow. Now we have identified Chechens as terrorists and have switched sides.
It's going to get tricky. In the Pakistani province of The Sind (in and around Karachi) there are Hindu terrorists who are probably supported by elements of the Indian government. While currently given little media attention, they create a terrorist act every three or four days and kill scores of Pakistanis every year. If called upon by Pakistan, how can we deny that claim if we have accepted the Indian complaint of Pakistani support for the Muslim terrorist in Kashmir?
It is, perhaps, ironic that the United States, which started as a revolutionary republic committed to self-determination (and which under President Wilson in 1918 championed the principle of ethnic self-determination over the technical sovereignty of existing nations), should enter the third millennium as the supervising force against many of those ethnic aspirations.
Of course, it can be said that we don't oppose self-determination, only terrorism. That is true. But, given the post-World War II history that has largely legitimized violent assertion of self-determination, there are vast forces across the globe that will have to be first violently suppressed and then taught to rechannel their aspirations through non-terrorist/violent methods.
We will have to be very clever to avoid playing the role of the 19th century Austrian Empire, which opposed all European urges for self-determination in the name of legitimacy. It was that same Austrian Empire that in 1914 insisted on their prerogative to enter Serbia to arrest the terrorists who killed their Archduke Ferdinand while he was touring Serbia.
If we are to destroy world terrorism (as we must in this age of nuclear, biological and chemical mass murder) without becoming simply a force for reaction against the natural rights of men, then we will have to simultaneously use our vast powers Solomonically on behalf of justified self-determination. Either way, it's going to be a busy century for us.


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