Osama bin Laden and his supporters around the world are digging in for the long haul, waiting for the day when the United States can no longer afford the war on terrorism and begins to wilt under the weight of unilateralism.
The world’s third-largest recipient of U.S. military aid is the South American nation of Colombia, the focus of our never-ending war on drugs. Before September 11, this made a lot of people in Washington nervous. Now there is even more reason to worry. President Bush’s fiscal 2003 budget is requesting $98 million in new Pentagon training and equipment for the Colombian military, in a new initiative to transform the war on drugs into part of our global war on terror.
The tragic events of September 11 have created unprecedented challenges for the peace movement, anti-interventionist forces, and other progressive activists. For the first time in the lives of most Americans, the U.S. has found itself under attack.
If former Enron boss Kenneth Lay were put in charge of the U.S. war on terrorism, he would probably conduct it much the same way his fellow Texas oilman and beneficiary of Enron largesse, George W. Bush, has.
Immediately after the September 11 attacks in New York, South Korean and U.S. forces went into a state of heightened security alert that the North claimed was “threatening,” leading Pyongyang to break off ongoing negotiations on family reunions that remain stalled even today. Despite this reversal in negotiations, North Korea reacted to September 11 by unilaterally moving to sign two UN antiterrorism treaties and later expressing its willingness to sign an additional five.
Peace is back on the agenda, if not yet on the horizon in Angola. With the death of rebel leader Jonas Savimbi and the state visit to Washington by Angolan president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, there is again a glimmer of hope that the country’s 27-year-long civil war may finally be coming to a real end. As Salih Booker, Director of Africa Action, puts it, “Savimbi’s death removes the principal obstacle to peace in that country. So long as he was alive, it seemed virtually impossible that Angolans would ever be able to conclude and implement a peace settlement. But his death does not automatically ensure that peace will follow.”
Somalia and the U.S. are apparently doomed by fate to collide at critical moments in global politics. The collision has never brought anything but trouble to both parties. We are about to crash into one another again, this time in an expanded war on terrorism.
In the past year and a half, we’ve heard George W. Bush talk about the need to move beyond the cold war paradigm of U.S. security policy. Specifically, Bush repeatedly discussed reducing the number of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal to “the lowest possible number consistent with our national security” and taking these weapons off hair-trigger alert. In mid-November, Bush reiterated that position in meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin saying, “We are talking about reducing and destroying the number of warheads to get down to specific levels.”
It was a speech foretold. After being compelled to make the “Friend-or-foe” choice after the September 11 attacks, Pakistan’s General Pervez Musharraf in his policy address on January 12th set about redefining the role of religion in Pakistani society and its domestic and external politics, with a special reference to Kashmir and terrorism. Islam, he said, has been misused and the Pakistani people exploited in its name. The general condemned acts of terrorism and in particular September 11, October 1, and December 13–the last two dates are of suicide attacks in Srinagar the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir) and on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi.
The east African nation of Somalia is being mentioned with increasing frequency as a possible next target in the U.S.-led war against international terrorism. Somalia is a failed state–with what passes for the central government controlling little more than a section of the national capital of Mogadishu, a separatist government in the north, and rival warlords and clan leaders controlling most the remainder of the country. U.S. officials believe that cells of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network may have taken advantage of the absence of governmental authority to set up operation.