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George Schulz on Sustaining the War Effort

2:33 PM, Aug 31, 2006 • By DANIEL MCKIVERGAN
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Former Reagan Secretary of State Shultz has an interesting piece, Sustaining Our Resolve, in the latest Policy Review. Some highlights:

On December 29, 2000, the Security Council strongly condemned "the continuing use of the areas of Afghanistan under the control of the Afghan faction known as Taliban . . . for the sheltering and training of terrorists and planning of terrorist acts. . . ." (Res. 1333) By the end of the 1990s, we had begun to glimpse the reality. And we were just beginning to understand that the threat was to far more than the Middle East. Looking back at all those terrorist attacks of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, we could see that our enemy targeted every aspect of the international system: tourism, commerce, air travel, world finance, the United Nations, embassies, the commitment to the principle of diplomatic immunity, and the sovereign and territorial integrity of states. This was Islamism - a radical, aberrational deviation from Islam - with an ideology that set itself violently against every element of the international state system, the centuries-old basis for a cooperative world order.

Nevertheless, in the first phase of this war, the terrorists had a completely free rein with no real effort made to carry the fight to them, let alone defend ourselves aggressively.

What can we learn from this experience? First, passivity does not lead to a cessation of attacks. On the contrary, passivity only encourages our adversaries to believe that they can do as they choose without consequences to themselves. The terrorists were getting a free ride from us even as their attacks grew greater in frequency and devastating power….

Iran, as does North Korea, now poses a great threat as it seeks to gain nuclear weapons capability. With U.S. help, the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency are actively engaged in the effort to turn Iran back from this course. All five UN Security Council permanent members voted in the IAEA to refer the Iran problem to the Security Council. Now the permanent five plus Germany have initiated inducements for change in Iran's nuclear program with at least implied sanctions should Iran remain defiant. What further action will be taken is uncertain as of this writing. Just as France declares without qualification that Iran seeks a nuclear weapon and the IAEA reports on multiple Iranian deceptions, China is negotiating a further deal for Iranian oil.

Iran seems convinced that its actions, as in restarting its enrichment facilities, will have no adverse consequences. It sees no strength behind the diplomacy. We must be ready to summon the will - and persuade others to join us - to use economic and political strength - and ultimately force - to deal with this situation if multilateral diplomacy and collective security are to be credible….

Meanwhile, we now know from the huge number of captured documents produced by Saddam Hussein's regime that in Iraq there were in existence three training centers for terrorists with apparently some 8,000 or so trainees. We must identify who the trainees are, learn the methods they have been trained to use and their connections to other countries, and, to the extent that these terrorists are operating in Iraq today, do everything possible to get them out of circulation before they go elsewhere….

… [W]e must not let up on the reality that we are at war and will continue to be so for a long time to come. Some commentators have noted that the length of time from 9/11 to today is longer than World War II. This is the wrong analogy; what we face is more akin to the decades-long struggle of the Cold War.

And being at war, we must retain the option and the will to use force - even as we pair that option with intensive diplomacy. Given the ongoing military task we face in Iraq and the political pressure against President Bush, it is being assumed by many around the world, friends and enemies alike, that the United States cannot undertake another major military operation, let alone see the effort in Iraq through to success. This is a dangerous perception, one that will only heighten the likelihood of further warfare unless it is dispelled.

At the end of President Bush's first term it could be said, correctly, that now the United States could begin to make the transition from the first-term emphasis on strength to a second-term focus on diplomacy. In very large part we are doing that. But the option for military action on even a large scale, such as a sustained air campaign to cripple Iran's nuclear weapons program, must remain alive as a last resort. The more alive it is in the minds of our adversaries, the more likely it is that we never will have to use that military option.

The American eagle on the Great Seal must continue to look toward the olive branch but, just as important, must keep a powerful cluster of arrows in its grasp.