In the aftermath of Sept. 11, President Bush turned to his advisers and asked, "What can we do to make sure this doesn't happen again." Their response has been to augment foreign policy to confront 21st-century threats from rogue states intent on acquiring weapons of mass destruction.
As the United States now prepares to oust Saddam with military force, it is worth considering why Iraq - along with North Korea and Iran - presents such a threat to our national security.
In each case, a tyrant seeking the capacity to attack American interests dominates the country. In each case, there is no protection for those basic human rights we associate with happiness. The despotic tendencies of these rulers have frayed global relations, frightened off global investors and effectively turned each of the axis countries into a global pariah.
Playing on the idea of a Western conspiracy to maintain power is their chief gambit. In North Korea, citizens attend museums that accuse America of starting the Korean War (we did not) and committing atrocities on par with the Nazis. In Iraq and Iran, children are conditioned to believe that supporting their respective tyrants is part of the ongoing struggle for independence from imperial Western influences. Such rhetoric offers the young and the poor some national purpose and a chance to display their loyalty to this national cause by enthusiastically volunteering for suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks on U.S. interests. So long as the masses are kept red of tooth and claw, they have little time to reflect on the genuine causes of their country's economic ruin. In short, the leaders of Iraq, Iran and North Korea maintain their power the way all demagogues do, by offering the alienated masses a ubiquitous target for their woes.
In each case, the leaders are leading their countries over an economic cliff. The level of economic instability in Iraq, Iran and North Korea make each an ideal base of operations for terrorists. Somalia is a perfect example of why the United States must keep those regions stable.