On Point: The Formula for Hell in the 21st Century

by Austin Bay
February 12, 2003

Sept. 11 made it impossible to tolerate the wicked linkage ofterrorists, rogue states and weapons of mass destruction. Terrorists plusrogue states plus WMD -- that's the formula for hell in the 21st century.

Breaking the fatal linkage -- stopping the proliferation of WMD,eliminating terrorists and reforming rogue states -- should be the civilizedworld's common goal. But if the goal is too difficult for a civilized worldundermined by malcontents and criminal autocrats, then for the sake of asafer, more peaceful century, America must take it on alone.

The Hell Formula exploits a weakness in the nation-state system.In too many hard corners of our planet, the foundation for a modern statenever formed, but the trappings -- a capital, an army, a seat in the UnitedNations, International Monetary Fund loans -- can be acquired.

Legitimate authority? Rule of law? Forget it. The bayonet to thethroat remains the only process for establishing authority, making"sovereignty" within the hard corner's Rand McNally borders a constantlycontested notion. In such tribal, feudal and anarchic quarters, lip-servicemay be paid to common humanity, but the implementation of laws protectingbasic human rights is rare.

For centuries, the fake nation-states didn't matter too much.Tribal battles remained local horrors. Not any more. Enforcing localdictatorial control with arrows or assault rifles is one scale of horror --but now the rogue rulers use nerve gas. With ballistic missiles at hand,with terrorists willing to fly commercial jets into skyscrapers, roguespossession and use of chemical weapons is no longer a local matter. Welearned, at a terrible price, that Islamofascist plotting in Afghanistanproduces terrorist crime in New York and Washington. To return to an erawhere distance made a difference requires ditching essential technology. Banthe Internet? Ban the 747? Ban satellite television?

Moreover, rogue states -- these criminal syndicates or tribeswith flags -- tend to disdain their own people. One estimate saddles Saddamwith the deaths of a million Iraqis (peace marchers take note -- that's thebrute you protect). North Korea has starved two million of its citizens, asits ruling clique builds ICBMs.

Small men like Saddam and Kim Jong Il harbor large goals, andWMD are their means of escaping tinpot status. Nukes ARE different. Verysmall numbers can waste very large chunks of humanity. Saddam intends to"burn Israel" -- he said so in June 1990. In February 1990, he gave a speechin Amman, Jordan, where he said he intended to challenge the United States(and a fascinating speech it was). North Korea's Kim sees Los Angeles asGround Zero for political and economic leverage. Deter these small men withhuge ambitions? Blarney. The Clinton administration offered Kim Jong Illight reactors and heavy oil. Kim took the goodies and continued to buildnukes.

In 1991, Saddam agreed to live with U.N. resolutions thatrequired the elimination of his WMD. As Tony Blair said last week, everynation with an intelligence service knows Iraq has WMD. Smoking gun? It'sset to blaze.

Terrorist organizations, propelled by megalomaniacal myths, arebeyond deterrence. However, the description that they are "virtualorganizations" is too pop. Men have to sleep, and they don't sleep invirtual space. Terrorists have to organize, train and acquire weapons. Theshady financial networks that support terrorists require cooperative banks.

Rogue states are the gutters that supply and support globalterrorists -- though plenty of greedy Western companies have entered thegutters. Those corporations face a terrible reckoning when Saddam falls.

Breaking down the Hell Formula will take time. The police workfundamental to counter-terror war is a painfully slow process. Curbing WMDproliferation requires cooperative diplomacy, as well as bombs. As for therogue state component of the equation, Iraq goes first because Saddam wasinternationally sanctioned and the sanctions must finally be enforced. TheUnited Nations does matter, but for a safer future it must be a UnitedNations with teeth. Trust North Korea will have its own moment of intensefocus.

Removing Saddam begins the reconfiguration of the Middle East, adangerous, expensive process, but one that will lay the foundation for truestates where the consent of the governed creates legitimacy and whereterrorists are prosecuted, not promoted.

A large order? So was World War II, when heavy history fell onThe Greatest Generation. It's this generation's turn to accept the challengeor face the Hell of destructive consequences.

Read Austin Bay's Latest Book

To find out more about Austin Bay and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.


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