Thomas Sowell

THIS year marked not only the beginning of a new millennium, but of a truly new era as well. In one sense, that era began on September 11th but, in another sense, it began on January 20th, when George W. Bush became President of the United States. The new administration has quietly made a sea change in American foreign policy, both in the Middle East and with the Russians.

After years of responding to Palestinian violence by leaning on Israel to make more concessions, the American government has now responded by demanding that Arafat stop the violence before he can expect anything. Within an incredibly short time, not only Arafat but even the Hamas terrorist group has started backing away from violence, at least for now.

For many years, especially during the Clinton administration, it was dogma in politics and in the media that concessions were the way to promote "the peace process." The fact that the new approach has produced more results than the old will of course make little or no difference to the intelligentsia, who do not give up their dogmas easily, just because of mere facts.

Another dogma that has dominated American foreign policy for years is that the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty with the Soviet Union must still be observed, lest we "de-stabilize" the delicate nuclear balance and risk military escalation, perhaps ending in a nuclear holocaust. Here again, the Bush administration has quietly but firmly dumped that notion into the garbage can -- and our relations with the Russians have never been better.

Only stunned silence has come from those who for so long promoted the now discarded doctrine of the sacredness of the ABM treaty. Admitting that they were wrong is virtually out of the question, because that would cast doubt on their whole vision of the world -- and of themselves.

Another doctrine growing out of that vision is that we must walk on eggshells in our foreign policy, in order not to offend "world opinion." Once more, the Bush administration has quietly but substantially shifted our policy to saying what our position is -- and inviting others to join us -- rather than letting "world opinion" determine what we are going to do.

President Bush has made it clear to the world that we are going to do whatever we have to do to safeguard our country and that others are "either with us or with the terrorists." Nor will we fail to note who is on what side -- and to act accordingly.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate