Think tanks wrap-up V

March 20, 2003 at 5:03 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 20 (UPI) -- The UPI think tank wrap-up is a daily digest covering opinion pieces, reactions to recent news events and position statements released by various think tanks. This is the fifth of several wrap-ups for March 20.

The Heritage Foundation

Three war aims

by Baker Spring and Jack Spencer

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administraton should conduct this military operation -- to end Saddam Hussein's brutal and menacing regime in Iraq -- based on three war aims:

-- Eliminating Iraq's terrorist infrastructure and weapons of mass destruction programs. The military force should be large enough to perform this mission rapidly. When the president is able to certify that all of Iraq's terrorist support and its weapons of mass destruction infrastructure, programs and arsenal have been accounted for and destroyed, this element of the post-war force should be withdrawn.

-- Precluding a hostile Iraq -- or Iran once Saddam Hussein is removed from power -- from dominating the Persian Gulf region. The post-war force would need to be large enough to block any Iranian incursions into largely Shiite areas south of Baghdad and capable enough to block Iranian infiltration into the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq to bolster Kurdish separatist movements. The time it will take to secure this aim will likely be lengthy, since it will depend on the reconstruction of a reliable and friendly Iraqi military force capable of standing up to Iran with a relatively modest U.S. security commitment.

-- Protecting Iraq's energy infrastructure to ensure that world energy markets continue to have access to those resources. It is uncertain how long this effort could take, but it is a less complex and narrower mission than the other two. At the outset, protecting the energy infrastructure should involve infantry brigades, but over time, this element of the force could gradually transition to military police brigades before eventually drawing down the force size as the situation stabilizes. This would provide the United States military commanders with the necessary flexibility to transition from a combat force to a military police presence. The United States also should seek to turn this responsibility over to reconstituted Iraqi security forces.

At the political level, the administraton also should utilize the post-war U.S. military presence to help give Iraq's new, presumably more friendly, leaders a better opportunity to develop an inclusive federal system of government.

Why preemption is necessary

by Jack Spencer

WASHINGTON -- The president of the United States has no greater responsibility than protecting the American people from threats, both foreign and domestic.

As the nature of the threats to the United States changes, so must the nation's approach to its defense. In situations where the evidence demonstrates overwhelmingly that behavioral trends, capability and motives all point to imminent threat, it may be necessary for the president to attack preemptively.

The reality of international life in the 21st century is that nations or organizations that wish to challenge America or Western powers increasingly are seeking weapons of mass destruction to achieve their political objectives. The only effective response may be to destroy those capabilities before they are used. The tenet of traditional, customary international law that allows for this preventive or preemptive action is "anticipatory self-defense."

Historically, the United States has asserted its right to anticipatory self-defense:

-- In 1962, President John Kennedy ordered a blockade of Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis.

-- During the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan invoked this right at least twice: first, in 1983, ordering an invasion of Grenada, and again in 1986, ordering the bombing of terrorist sites in Libya.

Complacency is not acceptable. U.S. authorities knew of the threat posed by Osama bin Laden, yet did nothing.

-- Deterrence alone is not sufficient to suppress aggression. Attacks can occur with little or no warning. In this world of drastically shortened time lines, it is essential that the president have the authority to act decisively, in short order, to defeat aggressors when a preponderance of information points to a threat of imminent attack. While the president did not know the Sept. 11 attacks would happen, there was ample evidence that threats to the United States would likely emerge from Afghanistan.

-- The use of a weapon of mass destruction is reasonably likely. Hostile entities increasingly view weapons of mass destruction as political assets.

-- A deadly synergy is created when hostile states and non-state agents conspire. The reality of the 21st century is that a state like Iraq can harness its resources to develop a weapon of mass destruction and collude with non-state actors to deliver that weapon.

-- The future envisioned by America's enemies is incompatible with U.S. security. On Sept. 11, the idea that hostile regimes and the United States could simultaneously pursue their respective interests lost all credibility. It was clear that America's enemies were willing to use unprovoked violence to achieve their objectives. The United States could no longer postpone acting against terrorists and nations that support them.

The Cato Institute

When rights collide in the Middle East

by Stanley Kober

WASHINGTON -- The coming war in Iraq will reshape the map of the Middle East. The Bush administration has proclaimed its intention to establish Iraq as a model for regional transformation toward democracy. This transformation is designed, in part, to facilitate resolution of the conflict with Israel.

"Old patterns of conflict in the Middle East can be broken, if all concerned will let go of bitterness, hatred and violence, and get on with the serious work of economic development, and political reform, and reconciliation," President Bush declared on February 26. "America will seize every opportunity in pursuit of peace. And the end of the present regime in Iraq would create such an opportunity."

This is a daring vision, and even its proponents compare it to the remaking of the world after World War II when the United States transformed Germany and Japan. By invoking these precedents, the administration and its supporters are not only demonstrating the possibility of such transformation; they are also emphasizing its difficulty. Yet history does not repeat itself exactly, and the differences between the two situations must be scrutinized.

One difference in particular stands out: the attachment to land. Reconciliation between the United States and its defeated enemies after World War II was possible because the United States did not covet their land. To be sure, the United States does not covet the territory of Iraq or any other Arab country. But if there is to be reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians, the emotional issue of the land has to be resolved, because each side believes it has an entitlement to the same land.

For the Israelis, this right is rooted in a Biblical legacy. When asked about the occupied territories, Daniel Ayalon, a former adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and now the Israeli ambassador to the United States, replied that "this land was given to us by God. The lands you refer to are the birthplace of the nation of Israel. This is where our nation was built over 4,000 years, therefore we are not occupiers."

Some prominent American supporters of Israel have echoed this view. "Our claim to the land -- to which we have clung for hope for 2,000 years -- is legitimate and noble," argues a report prepared in 1996 by a study team headed by Richard Perle, now the head of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board. "Only the unconditional acceptance by Arabs of our rights, especially in their territorial dimension, 'peace for peace,' is a solid basis for the future."

For the Palestinians, their right to the land is rooted in the right of return, which they have been promised by their leaders, and which is enshrined in U.N. Resolution 194. To be sure, the U.N. resolution is not binding and is open to interpretation, and Palestinian negotiators have reassured their Israeli counterparts that any right of return would have to be limited so as not to alter the demographic balance within Israel.

The problem, however, is that for the Palestinian people, the right of return is just that -- a right, not a privilege -- and therefore it is not to be compromised. When Dr. Sari Nusseibeh, the PLO representative in Jerusalem until December 2002, recently visited a Palestinian university to explain the need for compromising the right of return, the students denounced him as a traitor and he was forced to leave.

The students' sentiments appear to be shared even by members of the Palestinian diaspora who have integrated into Western societies. "Men like Nusseibeh offer a solution without justice," writes Jaffer Ali, a Palestinian-American, in the Jordan Times. "Palestinians must reject this cold world that prizes expediency over human rights."

Thus, just as the Jews who returned to Israel after centuries of dispersion felt they had a right to the land, so do the Palestinians. Indeed, the language of rights, which underpins our understanding of civil society in a democracy, is also the language of war. When the American Founders declared independence, it was to protect their fundamental rights, which they believed the British had violated.

Once people talk about their rights, they are no longer talking about political compromise. A right must be guaranteed in full, or it is not truly a right. Even the willingness to receive compensation in exchange for surrendering a birthright is depicted in the Biblical story of Esau as dishonorable.

The United States will encounter many problems in the aftermath of the Iraq war. It should be under no illusion that bringing democracy to the Middle East will, by itself, change the conviction of people regarding the sanctity of their fundamental rights. And so long as the conflict involves a confrontation of irreconcilable rights, it is bound to endure.

In 1913, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace prepared a report on the Balkan Wars that preceded the World War I. The report declared, in part, "War is waged not only by the armies but by the nations themselves ...(t)he populations mutually slaughtered and pursued with a ferocity heightened by mutual knowledge and the old hatreds and resentments they cherished."

The presence of American peacekeepers in the Balkans almost a century later provides a warning of the degree of commitment the United States might be assuming as it prepares to remake the Middle East.

(Stanley Kober is a research fellow in foreign policy studies with the Cato Institute.)

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