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Monday, November 24, 2003

THE ALTERNATIVE WAR ON TERROR In yesterday's Telegraph David Frum explains why Bush is our best chance for peace. I'm not so sure about that. More accurate to say he's the next best chance to maintain freedom, not just our own but that of people everywhere around the world. That may be a key part of the war on terror anyway, but remember it is so largely by choice, not by need. If we wanted to we could fight differently as Frum writes:

Think again. Bush may fail. But if he fails, it is unlikely that America today will then conclude: "How terrible that the people of the Middle East gravitate towards violence and authoritarianism. It must be our fault. Quick - let's give them a Palestinian state so they will stop blowing up our office towers."
It is much more likely that Americans will conclude: "Something is seriously wrong with these people. And we'd better take steps to protect ourselves from them." You do not, after all, have to send your armies into the heart of the Middle East to fortify your society against Middle Eastern terror. You can also do it by barring Middle Eastern people from your territories and keeping careful watch over those who have already entered. You can do it by supporting regimes willing to crack down on terrorist organisations by any means necessary. You can do it by cutting back on your presence in the region, reducing investment and trade, striking from a distance whenever any state or group seems close to acquiring weapons of mass destruction - but otherwise consigning the people of the region to stagnate in their own rage.

That is the alternative. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we have to invade and occupy every country that looks like it has a terror problem that it can't deal with without our support, and try to impose democracy. I know this simply isn't possible and we need to fight dirty now and then, but it is still no excuse not to fight terror by spreading democracy as far as our capabilities make it possible.

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