Bush jeopardizes coalition

According to President George W. Bush nations are either “with us or against us” in the war on terrorism. Bush makes this choice somewhat more difficult for foreign countries when he continually redefines “terrorism” and which nations meet the criteria.

Bush’s recent demand that Iraq admit United Nations inspectors “or else” revealed a new twist in his definition of terrorism: Countries developing or possessing weapons of mass destruction are now also terrorist and targets of the U.S. led coalition against terrorism. This declaration oversteps the coalition’s authority, and could easily alienate foreign countries and lead to global consequences not yet considered.

First of all, the coalition is not invincible. Many nations’ support is already wavering and commencing action in other countries could break its unity completely. Many countries will not accept the U.S. escalation of the war. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, while professing support for the coalition, has already made clear his country’s unwillingness to become militarily involved elsewhere in the world, including Iraq, which has long been a target of the Bush administration.

Bush went beyond just Iraq to include North Korea, Syria, Libya and Iran as suspects under the expanded definition of terrorism. The fragile state of the Middle East and the lack of hard terrorism evidence are concrete reasons to avoid the push to invade these countries, and disregarding foreign nations’ wishes will certainly distance them from the United States, and could cause them to back out of the coalition.

Additionally, many in the United States are concerned that Bush and Israeli officials are already looking to the next phase of the terrorism war when the situation in Afghanistan is not yet fully resolved. There is still opposition from Taliban and al-Qaida fighters, and the new government is by no means stable. If other Middle Eastern nations are threatened by the United States, their withdrawn support will include crucial bases for the attack on Afghanistan, prolonging the conflict. Bush needs to address these concerns before thinking about adding another front to the war.

Perhaps most importantly, when Bush adds each day to what is terrorist, other nations do the same and justify their own military actions under the guise of fighting terrorism. India has already done this, declaring Islamic militants in Pakistan terrorists and Pakistan as a nation harboring terrorists. Strained relations between Pakistan and Israel are equally menacing as each accused the other of terrorism after Tuesday’s shooting spree in Israel by two Palestinians.

In this time of international fear and chaos the United States needs to remain steady in its policies and actions. If we continue to waver we cannot expect foreign countries to accept our mandates and follow us blindly into war against whomever we deem an enemy.