Good out of evil

Posted: Oct 24, 2001 12:00 AM
In the book of Genesis, Joseph says to his evil-thinking brothers, "You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive." Is it conceivable that anything good could come out of the evil of Sept. 11? The answer is yes, and I have faith that it will. Consider this: The New York Times reported last week that Russia is stepping forward as a "new friend in need, offering its oil fields as a secure alternative to dependence on the turbulent Persian Gulf." As I write this, President George W. Bush is in China discussing trade and world commerce with the same Chinese political leaders with whom we had only a few months ago been in direct conflict over a shoot-down of one of our surveillance planes. The president told reporters that China did not hesitate to stand with the United States against terrorism, and he went on to say that "the economic future of my nation and this region are inseparable." I agree with former Rep. Lee Hamilton as he wrote in USA Today recently that "Out of these tragedies come new opportunities to swing the world onto a more peaceful and secure axis." It begins with countries like Qatar, devoutly Islamic but at the same time coming to understand that its very survival depends upon modernization and becoming a part of the community of nations. For us, it means finding ways to assist countries like Qatar so they feel confident enough to confront the mob in the street the way Pakistani Gen. Pervez Musharraf has done so courageously in Pakistan. But it means more than standing down the mob in the street; it also means closing down the institutions of terror such as the "kindergartens of terror" -- the Madrassa schools -- that indoctrinate and instill hatred in young men. It means offering individuals who are currently without hope -- who otherwise fall prey to religious fanaticism -- political and economic freedom in which to practice their faith, fulfill their humanity and find it possible to tolerate the different faiths of others. For Russia and the United States, this international war on terrorism marks the end of the Cold War. Russian President Vladimir Putin has finally cast Russia's lot with the West, and the "Westerners" have finally won out over the "Slavophiles." The emerging deal on oil is indicative of the changing relationship. And consider the emerging bilateral effort between our two nations to control nuclear arms and to establish a new kind of global nuclear deterrence -- not only between us and them but also between the two of us and the rest of the world. The most remarkable manifestation of this historic new correlation of forces can be seen in the cooperative deployment of Russian and U.S. tactical nuclear weapons inside the territory of the former Soviet Union -- at former Soviet bases in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan -- which occurred within a few days of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. Russia and the United States recognize that the greatest danger right now is Islamic fanatics getting their hands on the Pakistani nuclear arsenal. I believe Dr. Gordon Prather is correct in his recent World Net Daily column when he says, "Bush and Putin have just put certain nation-states on notice that if they can't -- or won't -- prevent their nukes from getting loose, we'll do it for them." Even in the Middle East, where the assassination of an Israel cabinet minister has brought the region to the point of all-out war, Yasser Arafat's appointment of the respected Dr. Sari Nusseibeh to be the Palestinian Authority's chief representative in Jerusalem offers some hope. "The average Israelis are just the same as the average Palestinians -- and just as human," he said. He also seems to recognize that Osama bin Laden seeks to use the Palestinian-Israel conflict to his own perverted ends and not to the benefit of the Palestinian people. "The Palestinians' real ally," he said, "is their foe Israel because both have a joint interest in building a future on these lands." This can be and must be the basis of any peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. On the Kemp family bulletin board -- the fridge -- my wife Joanne has a family reminder that "Problems are opportunities brilliantly disguised as insurmountable barriers." What is true for us as individuals can also be true as nations, and hopefully, we are at such a point -- no longer floundering around in search of purpose and direction in the post-Cold-War world but at a new beginning for this new millennium.