WASHINGTON -- Thank God for Hans Blix. Whenever we become lax and forgetful about how the world changed on 9/11, former chief inspector Blix is there to make the case for mindless complacency. In a recent speech in Vienna he warned that one should be wary of the claim that ``the risk that reckless groups and governments might acquire weapons of mass destruction is the greatest problem facing our world today.'' Why? Because ``to hundreds of millions of people around the world, the big existential issue is hunger, and also that wherever you live on this planet, the risk of global warming and other environmental threats are existential.''
Here we are at the crux of a debate over America's aggressive interventionism of the last few years. Is Islamic radicalism in potential alliance with WMD-bearing terrorist states a threat to the very existence (hence: ``existential'') of America and of civilization itself?
On Sept. 12, 2001, and for many months afterward, that proposition was so self-evident that it commanded near unanimous support. With time -- three years in which, contrary to every expectation and prediction, the second shoe never dropped -- that consensus has evaporated.
The new idea, expressed by Blix representing the decadent European left, and recently amplified by Michael Moore representing the paranoid American left, is that this existential threat is vastly overblown. Indeed, deliberately overblown by a corrupt/clueless (take your pick) President Bush to justify American aggression for reasons of ... and here is where the left gets a little fuzzy, not quite being able to decide whether American aggression is intended simply to enrich multinational corporations (or maybe just Halliburton alone) with fat war contracts, distract from alleged failure in Afghanistan, satisfy some primal masculine urge, or boost poll ratings.
Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.
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