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The war on terrorism

By Henry Lamb
web posted April 7, 2003

From both the left and the right, critics of the war in Iraq ask: "Who's next, North Korea, Iran, Syria?" The answer: perhaps. September 11 changed the world; the United States, and much of the civilized world, declared war on terrorism. To the extent that any nation sponsors, facilitates, or supports terrorism, that nation is a potential target.

Americans are just beginning to realize that the war on terrorism is not simply a matter of the current color of the terror alert, and extra screening at the airport. The war on terrorism is a war, complete with bombs and bullets.

The United States is confronted with a fundamental and historic choice: will the U.S. depend upon the United Nations to defend its citizens, through the U.N.'s policy of collective, comprehensive security, as France, Germany, Russia, and much of the rest of the world demand? Or, will the United States meet its Constitutional responsibility to defend its own citizens?

President Bush made that decision as it relates to Iraq, spawning waves of protests from the U.N., and from the professional protesters who have nothing better to do than fill the streets with their anti-American theater.

Iraq is, in fact, just the beginning. If the war against terrorism is to be won, it will not be won by the U.N., where Syria sits on the Security Council, and Lybia chairs the Human Rights Commission, and Iraq heads the Disarmament Commission. Most of the nations that populate the United Nations want nothing more than to see the United States brought to its knees, and controlled by a world government.

If the war on terrorism is to be won, it will be won by a U.S.-led coalition of nations that undertake the awesome task of removing the causes of terrorism. Those people who say that America's foreign policy is responsible for 9-11, and the hatred of America by the Arabs, are simply wrong. While the U.S. has made many foreign policy mistakes, the root cause of the hatred of America is ignorance - the absence of truthful information about American values.

The vast majority of the people who raise their fists against America in the streets of Arab nations do so because they are fed a constant diet of state-controlled misinformation. They are taught from birth to hate America, because we are "infidels," because we want their oil, because we use 25 per cent of the world's resources, because we are greedy capitalists, because we have "stolen" their resources - and a complete menu of similar tripe.

News reports of the war in Iraq by the Arabian press, provide only a small taste of the daily stream of lies fed to the people who are not allowed to see or hear the truth. They do not have a free press which can present independent reports of events from which they can choose what to believe. Most of these people are peasants. Iraq is a prime example of why: Saddam squanders the nation's wealth on palaces, and weaponry, while the people go hungry.

To win the war against terrorism, the people who hate us must have another source of information about us. We must demonstrate that what they have been told is a lie. Coalition forces in Iraq are doing just that. Saddam's soldiers torture and execute Iraqi citizens for waving at an American; coalition forces risk their own lives to treat wounded Iraqi citizens, and bring them food and water. Eventually, these acts of kindness and humanity will speak much louder than the hate-filled, state-controlled TV announcers.

The real war begins when Saddam and his henchmen are history. What replaces them will determine whether we move toward victory in the war on terrorism, or simply postpone the horror while a new butcher is bred.

The new government in Iraq must be built on the principles of freedom: representative government; free-speech; free markets; human rights; property rights, personal, and national responsibility. Critics are quick to say we have no right to impose our values upon any other nation. Perhaps we do.

At the very least, we have the right to defend our nation from the threat of terrorist attacks from the likes of Saddam, even if that means the removal of his entire regime. If, in the doing of it, we provide the opportunity for Iraqi citizens to explore freedom, and build a system of representative government that allows them to exercise their own ability and benefit from their own efforts, then perhaps it is not only our right, but also our duty.

This is not colonialism, or empire-building, as critics are quick to charge. This is self-defense, in the short term, and an investment in a prosperous peace for the long term. If a stable, representative government can be cultivated in Iraq, which can survive after America withdraws, a major battle in the war against terrorism will have been won.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization, and chairman of Sovereignty International.

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