F.R. Duplantier reporting Behind The Headlines

Week of:
October 14, 2001
Target State Sponsors of Terrorism

F.R. Duplantier

by: F.R. Duplantier

"Our current battle is not against terrorism per se, but against terrorists and their state supporters, whose aim is to undermine liberal democratic self-rule."

"As we prepare to wage war against Osama bin Laden, the next test of U.S. and allied security will not come from terrorism or terrorists, but from other nations," declares Henry Sokolski of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center. "Indeed, the reticence of Russian, Chinese and terrorist states to support fully our fight against terrorism today gives us fair warning of what's in store -- an increasing alignment of nations for and against the promotion of liberal democracy."

In a recent commentary in the Washington Times, Sokolski points out that "a democratic India has no problem offering temporary military staging bases to American special forces, but a dictatorial Pakistan does. NATO and allied nations, meanwhile, as well as the democracies of Latin America, can all back U.S. military action and differ only over what kind of military or economic contribution each should make in support," he continues. "Russia and China, on the other hand, are more niggardly, publicly denigrating the need to lend any specific assistance. Finally, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan, North Korea, Libya, all terrorist states . . . are insistent in denying any responsibility."

Sokolski sees battle lines "being drawn. States anxious to preserve or promote liberal self-rule understand that cowardly acts of violence against the best of them are attacks against them all," he affirms. "Those states that have misgivings about limited, liberal self-government, meanwhile, are much more willing to wait and see, or to play both sides against the other. Finally, Stalinistic and dictatorial states, along with countries that have succumbed or are succumbing to the tyrannical religious distortions of Islamic radicalism, will hope and work for the ruin of liberal democracies."

Sokolski contends that the aim of the terrorists is "to defeat the world's leading liberal democracy in hopes of promoting an anti-liberal alternative to it." If we let Osama bin Laden achieve his goal of "Islamic radicalism for the Middle East," he predicts, "the other enemies of liberal democracy will pile on with additional alternatives of their own." Sokolski warns that these other enemies include nations "armed with strategic warheads and long-range missiles." He recommends "redoubling our efforts against strategic weapons proliferation," deploying missile defenses, keeping our military "as far from domestic law-enforcement tasks as possible," and being "vigilant against domestic authorities violating our essential civil liberties."

Ivan Eland of the Cato Institute also counsels against counterterrorism measures that would circumscribe our liberties. "As bad as the mass casualties and widespread fear were, the worst and longest lasting scar from the attacks could be an alteration of the American way of life," he emphasizes. "Politically, the United States is the freest nation on earth. Our citizens enjoy freedoms unmatched anywhere in the world. If the attacks result in the curtailment of American civil liberties in the name of increased security, the terrorists' triumph will be complete." Eland recommends that we "ask ourselves whether increased security or intelligence gathering would trash the civil liberties that make the United States unique and great. That," he concludes, " would be the greatest victory for Bin Laden."