- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 23, 2002

The time is now at hand for President Bush to appoint a commission of strategic thinkers whose mandate would be a new vision for the 21st century and their scope must look beyond the Afghan and even terrorist horizon.
Enron is but one example of the unacceptable face of capitalism that has blurred the image of the shining citadel on the hill called globalism.
While U.S. media belatedly dig into a gargantuan domestic scandal, foreign media are already connecting the dots between:
The unspeakable callousness of Enron executives who stole the lifesavings of thousands of their employees.
The populist Latin American backlash engendered by the U.S. refusal to help staunch friend Argentina, which had played by the rules, dutifully swallowed IMF's bitter cure, and was then told to sink or swim.
The staggering dot.com rip-off that enriched topsiders who talked up the big lie of a new economy, which left millions on the street looking for jobs here and abroad.
The U.S. silence, seen as approval, as Israel gradually evicts Yasser Arafat and his Palestinian Authority from Gaza and the West Bank.
The unwelcome mat in Saudi Arabia that the House of Saud says still reads "welcome."
The popularity of Osama bin Laden (dead or alive) in the Persian Gulf states outside of the ruling families.
The popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood among Egypt's impoverished masses.
The still widening gap between rich and poor both within and between nations (the richest 358 billionaires in the world have a net worth equal to the combined annual income of the poorest 2.3 billion people, according to some statistics).
The growing resentment of European allies over what they see as the transmogrification of unilateralism during the first nine months of the Bush administration into either-you're-with-us-or-against-us neo-imperialism.
For those who argue that Enron proves the benefits of the capitalist system there are winners and losers they are looking at the wrong end of the global telescope. They should take the trouble to surf foreign media sites for editorial comment about post-Argentina, post-Enron globalism.
The term "bandit capitalism" crops up with depressing frequency.
Prior to September 11, the tone was already critical about U.S. economic and cultural imperialism. Now Washington's war against terrorism is perceived as an attempt impose U.S. writ on the rest of the world.
As preposterous as this may sound to American ears, it is put forward seriously by thoughtful people the world over, from an off-the-record discussion at the Washington dinner table of a key U.S. ally's ambassador to a conversation with a pro-American Egyptian Cabinet minister and in newspaper editorials from Buenos Aires to Berlin and from Tunis to Tokyo.
There is no reason why any of this should be laid at Mr. Bush's doorstep. The administration is still too busy prosecuting a war against a global terror network.
But now Mr. Bush 43 should start thinking Truman II, the kind of grand design that gave the world a robust geopolitical architecture that stood the test of half a century and collapsed the Soviet empire. He should, of course, resist the impulse to go it alone after his flawless leadership in mobilizing world opinion behind a quick war in Afghanistan against the Taliban and al Qaeda. At the very least, the United States must now demonstrate the same kind of leadership to win the peace.
There isn't a moment to lose. Notwithstanding the interim Afghan leader's strong denials, warlords now control most of the Afghan countryside and some of the major cities. The United States was painfully slow in providing Hamid Karzai's interim government with the bare necessities that would give him a sporting chance of establishing Kabul's central authority.
Failing to plan is tantamount to planning to fail. The United States knew long before the liberation of Kabul that there was no government infrastructure, only rubble interspersed with a few bomb- and shell-pocked buildings where the provisional government, scheduled to start work Dec. 22, had no desks, chairs, phones, paper, let alone word processors and printers, or even battered old typewriters.
Apparently no one thought of quickly crating all the surplus office furniture stacked up in the Pentagon's fourth-floor corridors, just one flight of stairs up from the service secretaries, and shipping it in a C-141 to the Bagram air base, a short drive from Kabul.
Getting Mr. Karzai's government up and running the morning of Dec. 22 was a more important priority than chasing long-gone al Qaeda foreign legionnaires in the Tora Bora cave complex.
The Bush administration also knew that Afghanistan's government coffers had been picked clean of some $13 million by fleeing Taliban officials and that Mr. Karzai's team would need an immediate infusion of cash and four-wheel-drive vehicles.
But Washington bureaucrats did not get around to releasing Afghan government funds, frozen in the United States during the Taliban regime, until last week. That tidy sum of $221 million, had it been disbursed the week before Dec. 22, would have enabled Mr. Karzai to start his six-month provisional administration with a flourish, paying civil servants who hadn't seen any kind of money in six months.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell has reassured Mr. Karzai that the United States is in for the long haul. A devastated Afghanistan's needs are enormous. Estimates range from $15 billion to $40 billion over the next 10 years.
Congress, however, is not in a generous mood except for homeland security.
Already Sen. Joseph Biden, Delaware Democrat and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, is saying the United States should not be in for more than 10 percent of the total. At the Tokyo donors conference of 61 countries this week, Mr. Powell pledged $296 million for the first year (vs. $495 million from the European Union countries), or one-fifth of the $1.8 billion committed to cope with devastated, drought- and war-stricken agriculture; primitive to non-existent health services; no clean water; no sanitation; roads rutted by two decades of warfare; security appropriated by warlords; resurgent opium production; not to mention several million destitute refugees. Over 50 percent of the country's 22 million people are under the age of 20.
The U.S. war effort since September 11 has cost $1 billion a month. What is needed now is the same spirit of generosity, compassion, determination and perseverance that animated U.S. foreign policy after World War II. Bretton Woods, the World Bank, IMF, the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan and NATO were towering post-war geostrategic accomplishments.
Now that same over-the-horizon vision must be refocused on a more just distribution of wealth, at home and abroad. If the United States opts out of this challenge, it will have failed to eradicate the breeding grounds of transnational terrorism. The awesome U.S. military might cannot stop hatemongers from becoming tomorrow's terrorists.

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