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The War Against Terrorism and its Aims - Part II - 2001-11-01

At a CATO Institute meeting in Washington, participants debated whether to broaden the war against terrorism. Kim Holmes, of the Heritage Foundation, says other nations may object, but the United States is obligated to fight terrorism around the world. "We should make our response to terrorism as broad as the threat itself. You have to go wherever the threat is present - concentrated now in Afghanistan, but clearly the threat is global," he says. "It is not only in terms of the network, but in terms of the states that support international terrorism."

If the United States fails to defeat the terrorists, said Mr. Holmes, other nations will be reluctant to cooperate with us. Above all, Iraq's Saddam Hussein must be targeted. "If he does get the nuclear weapon, he and Iraq become more or less the sanctuary by which we cannot touch him with any kind of military force, if he were in the future to support or personally engage in any kind of terrorism," says Mr. Holmes. "Can you imagine what we would be doing if the Taleban for some reason had a nuclear weapon? We would be operating in a very different way."

But Iraq is not close to having a nuclear capability, responded Columnist Robert Novak. Nor is there any evidence linking it to the attacks on the United States. Mr. Novak said those urging action against Iraq tend to be strong supporters of Israel, which considers Saddam Hussein a prime enemy. "If we attack Iraq, I do not think there is any question that we lose the British as an ally, quite apart from the rest of the Arab world, and we end up with the United States and Israel against the world," says Mr. Novack. "I think that is a very bad situation, but one that some people might welcome."

By attacking Iraq or any other Muslim country, we fall into Osama bin Laden's trap, said Charles Freeman, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and president of the Middle East Policy Council. He says the terrorist objectives are to "first, to ignite the war between civilizations, setting Muslims against non-Muslims and broadening the conflict to the extent he can, enlisting the entire Muslim world against the rest of the world." "Second, destroy U.S.- Saudi relations and drive the American forces out of Saudi Arabia, leaving the regime naked to its enemies," he says.

Oddly enough, said Ambassador Freeman, much of the American media appears to be collaborating with Osama's anti-Saudi campaign. There has been extensive press criticism of the Saudi ruling royal family and its U.S. ties. Why give Osama a helping hand, he asks?