The Only Plausible Answer

Charles Krauthammer describes the challenge facing us:

…What is becoming clear is that the overall international strategic situation in which we had unchallenged hegemony for the first decade and half the unipolar moment is now over. We are seeing on the horizon the rise of something that is always expected in any unipolar era, which is an alliance of others who oppose us.

Historically, whenever one country has arisen above all the others in power, anti-hegemonic alliances immediately formed against them. The classic example is the alliance against Napoleon in the early nineteenth century, and of course the alliances against Germany from World War I to World War II, particularly in the 1930s, where you had the rise of an aggressive, hegemonic Germany in the heart of Europe. What is interesting about our unipolar era is that whereas we had achieved unprecedented hegemony in the first decade and a half, there were no alliances against us. What I think we are beginning to see now is Iran positioning itself at the center of a regional alliance against us, again with the–Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, Sadr–looking to overawe the entire region with the acquisition of nuclear weapons, which would make it the regional superpower. And Iran is receiving tacit backing for its regional and anti-American ambitions from two great powers: Russia and China. That, I think, is the structure of the adversary that we will be looking at for the decades to come.

As the Bush Doctrine has come under attack, there are those in America who have welcomed its apparent setbacks and defeats as a vindication of their criticism of the policy. But the problem is that that kind of vindication leaves America in a position where there are no good alternatives. The reason that there is general despair now is because if it proves to be true that the Bush Doctrine has proclaimed an idea of democratizing the Arab/Islamic world that is unattainable and undoable, then there are no remaining answers to how to counter ultimately the threat of Islamic radicalism.

It remains the only plausible answer–changing the culture of that area, no matter how slow and how difficult the process. It starts in Iraq and Lebanon, and must be allowed to proceed and not precipitate an early and premature surrender. That idea remains the only conceivable one for ultimately prevailing over the Arab Islamic radicalism that exploded upon us 9/11. Every other is a policy of retreat and defeat that would ultimately bring ruin not only on the U.S. but on the very idea of freedom.

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