There’s a cowboy in the White House with an itchy trigger finger. He’s called Saddam out for a showdown at high noon. "We’re gonna get the guy who tried to kill my daddy", he says. Such is the perception of those who loudly accuse George W. Bush of warmongering for the purpose of revenge, oil and political advantage. Bob Woodward’s media-celebrated book "Bush at War" while mostly favorable to the President, still portrays him as being determined to lead the United States into an armed conflict with Iraq.
Bush’s critics miss the point completely. It is beyond them to consider that peace can be achieved through war. But history reminds us that peace is usually achieved on the battlefield. The last war that ended without a victory has become no more than a 60-year standoff on the Korean Peninsula, maintained by the presence over 30,000 American troops.
The pursuit of peace in the absence of open conflict is more accurately described as the pursuit of security. In this context it can be said that while Jimmy Carter received a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts, it was his successor who brought more peace to the world than Carter ever did or will. Ronald Reagan defeated the "Evil Empire" not through negotiation, but confrontation. The fall of the Soviet Union dramatically increased the security of America and freed millions from an oppressive Communist regime. Opposition to tyranny is effective where appeasement has never been. History again provides this lesson in the reality of the tens of millions of lives lost during World War II that might have been prevented had Hitler been opposed instead of appeased.
For nearly a decade, attacks against the United States got little serious response. The decimation of our military and the undermining of our intelligence agencies further emboldened our enemies. Not only did we fail to respond, but we also failed to seek an understanding of the animus behind the attacks. The smoldering rubble of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon was the price paid for that negligence.
George W. Bush is employing the strategy of opposition and confrontation in his foreign policy against threats to international security. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, he offered the Taliban the opportunity to give up Osama Bin Laden. Their refusal resulted in the forceful removal of the Taliban from power by the United States. Again, millions were freed from tyrannical rule. The Bush Doctrine on terrorism is an extension of this same philosophy of opposition instead of appeasement. America will oppose terrorists and confront those who harbor and support them.
The President’s identification of members of the "Axis of Evil" once thought to be provocative has proven accurate. Despite his defeat in the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein has never ceased being a threat to the security of the region and now has a new dimension with his support of terrorists. The Clinton administration’s failure to continue weapons inspections has made our current posture necessary. Even North Korea recognized this when it agreed to the Clinton-Carter non-proliferation pact. It was signed only after the threat of attack was used as leverage. Once again it was the failure to verify compliance that brought about this latest crisis. Now, in each case, how can disarmament be accomplished peacefully if there are no consequences for continued development of weapons of mass destruction?
Time is running out for Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il. Both must disarm or face the consequences. President Bush is marshalling the military and diplomatic forces of the United States to oppose and confront those who threaten international security. He is painstakingly developing the international consensus to support this imperative. His vision and leadership will ultimately win peace, though war may need to be waged to secure it.