So, what do you think about it now?" it's a question I've been asked repeatedly over the past few weeks. The "it," of course, refers to the Iraq war. The war against Saddam may be over (mostly) on the banks of the Euphrates, but it's being refought on the banks of the Potomac and the Thames, indeed across much of the world.
When it comes to Iraq, the Bush administration's attitude toward the world seems strangely self-defeating. Even though America's armed forces are strained beyond their limits, the bill for reconstruction is astronomical and a naked occupation is likely to produce anti-American feelings, Washington still is not much interested in genuine internationalization.
BY FAREED ZAKARIA We're utterly surprised," a senior U.N. diplomat told me. "We thought that after the war, the United States would try to dump Iraq on the world's lap and the rest of the world would object, saying, 'This is your mess, you clean it up.' The opposite is happening.
Charles Taylor, the indicted war criminal who runs Liberia, was glad that George W. Bush was in the White House. "We've listened to statements made by President Bush," he explained to a NEWSWEEK reporter in 2001, "that America is not just going to go around the world banging every little country saying, 'This is the way we do it--do it [this way]'." Taylor's own special way has been to plunge his country into civil war, destabilize his neighbors, support groups that commit blood-curdling war...
The news out of Iraq sounds grim--killings, chaos, instability. But these problems are likely to be temporary. As the Pentagon reverses course and admits to the reality of a long occupation, the Baathist resistance that is currently on the front pages will be defeated.
It is too early to conclude that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. A little history might provide perspective. Since 1991, United Nations weapons inspectors found and destroyed the following in Iraq: a supergun; 48 Scud missiles; 40,000 chemical munitions; 500,000 liters of chemical-weapons agents; 1.8 million liters of precursor chemicals, and large quantities of equipment related to biological warfare.Still, inspectors were sure that large quantities of weapons remained missing.
Last week's attacks in Saudi Arabia and Morocco show two contradictory things about Al Qaeda. It remains strong enough to launch serious operations. Yet since September 11, 2001, it has not been able to hit a single military, governmental or symbolic target anywhere in the world.
Having a hard time making sense of the war? The names, the places, the millenniums of relevant social and political history. NEWSWEEK's Fareed Zakaria, who just authored "The Future of Freedom," gives us an essential reading list--the five best books for understanding the Middle East.The Savage Wars of Peace by Max Boot.
The Bush administration continues to insist that developments in North Korea do not constitute a crisis. Well, here's how things stand. North Korea has announced that it will restart its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, which would mean the ongoing production of plutonium, the key ingredient in a nuclear bomb.
"We can't do an Adlai Stevenson," admitted an administration official about Colin Powell's upcoming speech to the U.N. Security Council. What he meant was that the administration did not have the smoking gun that Stevenson had when he presented the Council with images of Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962.