For months now, President Bush has been making clear his view that
nations around the world had a choice to make. Either they would be with us
or with the terrorists. Some believed, or at least hoped, that this was
empty rhetoric. If that perception is not to be proven correct -- with
potentially debilitating repercussions for Mr. Bush's credibility and
American security interests in the years ahead -- those who are now showing
themselves to be against, rather than with, us must be held to account.
Topping the list, of course, are the three veto-wielding nations
that have long supported Saddam Hussein in the UN Security Council, and who
are doing so now. France, Russia and China appear determined to block the
adoption of a new resolution that would enable the United States to move
without delay to compel Iraq's disarmament when (not if) Saddam once again
thwarts UN inspectors. Unless actually forced to choose, each would prefer
to maintain cordial diplomatic and lucrative trade relations with the United
States, while preserving a valued client in Baghdad.
It could be that these fair-weather (if not actually false) friends
have been encouraged in their intransigence by State Department
interlocutors -- many of whom appear to share Franco- Russian-Chinese
hostility to the Bush goal of regime change in Iraq -- to believe that the
President will accede to efforts to dumb-down the U.S.-drafted resolution.
They clearly fancy a diplomatic endgame that will have the UN's chief
sleuth, Hans Blix, going through the motions of inspection over at least the
Officials in Paris, Moscow and Beijing well know that if such delay
would not completely foreclose American military action, it would certainly
defer it until late next year. They may even succeed at last in their
efforts to terminate sanctions on Iraq once it is certified (however
unjustifiably) to be free of weapons of mass destruction. It is a safe bet
that, as soon as sanctions are gone, they will be among the foreign
suppliers willing to provide Saddam whatever additional lethal technology
and weaponry he desires.
There is a similar risk that Russia and China -- and even more
reliable "friends," like South Korea and Japan -- may perceive Mr. Bush's
temperate stance towards North Korea's nuclear weapons program as an
invitation to try to have it both ways: Suffering no costs in their
relationship with us even as they continue to prop up and reward the
malfeasance of one of the planet's most dangerous regimes.
Then there is the emerging danger emanating from our own hemisphere.
The election this weekend of a radical socialist as president of Brazil may
further catalyze trends with the potential to transform a region we have
generally taken for granted as comprised almost entirely of democratic
friends of the United States into one hostile towards us and hospitable to
our international terrorist foes.
A warning about this dangerous prospect was communicated last week
to President Bush by one of the most distinguished and respected members of
the U.S. House of Representatives and chairman of its International
Relations Committee, Rep. Henry Hyde. In particular, Mr. Hyde called
attention to what he called a possible "axis of evil in the Americas" forged
by Cuba's Fidel Castro, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Brazil's Lula da Siva.
Of particular concern is the possibility that the enthusiasm "Lula"
has declared for resuscitating Brazil's long-dormant nuclear program could
put atomic weapons and ballistic missiles into the hands of this axis and
its unsavory friends (for example, Chavez has established close ties with
virtually every terrorist-sponsoring regime and several terrorist
organizations, notably Colombia's FARC and the IRA). Rep. Hyde correctly
points out that the United States can begin to counter this metastasizing
danger by working with those who are against Chavez, and with us, in the
Among the other nations who are making known where they stand are
Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The true colors of the former are on display as
Egyptian state-controlled television broadcasts nightly during Ramadan
41-segments of a series loosely based on the Russian blood- libel known as
the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." Such incitement to hatred of and
violence against our ally, Israel, is incompatible with being a true friend
of the United States -- to say nothing of the enjoying the status of
peacemaker and "moderate Arab state" that garners for Egypt billions each
year in U.S. tax dollars and advanced weapons.
Saudi Arabia's alignment with America's enemies extends far beyond
the anti-U.S. and anti-Western propaganda that is also ceaselessly
disseminated by the kingdom's government-run media. In fact, for some fifty
years, Saudi official, royal family and what passes for private sector
institutions have been expending untold sums to promote the state religion
-- a virulently intolerant strain of Islam known as Wahhabism. Washington
has long ignored the individual and cumulative effects of such spending on
Wahhabi proselytizing, recruiting, indoctrination, training and equipping of
adherents who embrace the sect's injunction to convert or kill infidels.
In the wake of terrorism made possible -- or at least abetted -- at
home and abroad by such Saudi-connected activities, the United States can no
longer afford to turn a blind eye to this profoundly unfriendly behavior.
That is particularly true insofar as there is reason to believe that Wahhabi
enterprises are giving rise to perhaps the most insidious enemy of all: an
Islamist Fifth Column operating within this country.
Fortunately, the United States does have friends, nations that are
genuinely "with us" in the war on terror. They include Great Britain,
Israel, Australia, India and Turkey. Each shares, at a fundamental level,
our values. Like us, all are, to varying degrees, under assault from
terrorist enemies. Like the United States, all face domestic pressure to
accommodate -- rather than confront -- it.
Still, such nations constitute the core of a coalition of the
willing that President Bush has resolved to mobilize to address the threats
posed by terrorists like Saddam Hussein and his friends. The time has come
to do so and, in the process, to make clear who is truly with us and who is
prepared, instead, to be with our enemies.