by Austin Bay
February 12, 2003
Sept. 11 made it impossible to tolerate the wicked linkage of
terrorists, rogue states and weapons of mass destruction. Terrorists plus
rogue 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 civilized
world's common goal. But if the goal is too difficult for a civilized world
undermined by malcontents and criminal autocrats, then for the sake of a
safer, 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 state
never formed, but the trappings -- a capital, an army, a seat in the United
Nations, International Monetary Fund loans -- can be acquired.
Legitimate authority? Rule of law? Forget it. The bayonet to the
throat remains the only process for establishing authority, making
"sovereignty" within the hard corner's Rand McNally borders a constantly
contested notion. In such tribal, feudal and anarchic quarters, lip-service
may be paid to common humanity, but the implementation of laws protecting
basic human rights is rare.
For centuries, the fake nation-states didn't matter too much.
Tribal battles remained local horrors. Not any more. Enforcing local
dictatorial 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, rogues
possession and use of chemical weapons is no longer a local matter. We
learned, at a terrible price, that Islamofascist plotting in Afghanistan
produces terrorist crime in New York and Washington. To return to an era
where distance made a difference requires ditching essential technology. Ban
the Internet? Ban the 747? Ban satellite television?
Moreover, rogue states -- these criminal syndicates or tribes
with flags -- tend to disdain their own people. One estimate saddles Saddam
with the deaths of a million Iraqis (peace marchers take note -- that's the
brute you protect). North Korea has starved two million of its citizens, as
its ruling clique builds ICBMs.
Small men like Saddam and Kim Jong Il harbor large goals, and
WMD are their means of escaping tinpot status. Nukes ARE different. Very
small 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 speech
in 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 as
Ground Zero for political and economic leverage. Deter these small men with
huge ambitions? Blarney. The Clinton administration offered Kim Jong Il
light reactors and heavy oil. Kim took the goodies and continued to build
In 1991, Saddam agreed to live with U.N. resolutions that
required the elimination of his WMD. As Tony Blair said last week, every
nation with an intelligence service knows Iraq has WMD. Smoking gun? It's
set to blaze.
Terrorist organizations, propelled by megalomaniacal myths, are
beyond deterrence. However, the description that they are "virtual
organizations" is too pop. Men have to sleep, and they don't sleep in
virtual space. Terrorists have to organize, train and acquire weapons. The
shady financial networks that support terrorists require cooperative banks.
Rogue states are the gutters that supply and support global
terrorists -- though plenty of greedy Western companies have entered the
gutters. Those corporations face a terrible reckoning when Saddam falls.
Breaking down the Hell Formula will take time. The police work
fundamental to counter-terror war is a painfully slow process. Curbing WMD
proliferation requires cooperative diplomacy, as well as bombs. As for the
rogue state component of the equation, Iraq goes first because Saddam was
internationally sanctioned and the sanctions must finally be enforced. The
United Nations does matter, but for a safer future it must be a United
Nations with teeth. Trust North Korea will have its own moment of intense
Removing Saddam begins the reconfiguration of the Middle East, a
dangerous, expensive process, but one that will lay the foundation for true
states where the consent of the governed creates legitimacy and where
terrorists are prosecuted, not promoted.
A large order? So was World War II, when heavy history fell on
The Greatest Generation. It's this generation's turn to accept the challenge
or face the Hell of destructive consequences.