EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece appears in the February 28, 2005, issue of National Review.
It was the singular merit of George W. Bush’s first term that, after an uncertain start, he used the stimulus of 9/11 to follow the logic of America’s unique position as the world’s sole superpower. This imposes corresponding opportunities and duties. By taking up the leadership of the War on Terror, and by insisting that America would act unilaterally if necessary, Bush showed he was eager to take full advantage of America’s vastly increased relative power. The results are now coming in. In both Afghanistan and Iraq, fair and free elections have been held for the first time. What a half a century of exhortation had failed to do, the judicious use of military force achieved in two years – to bring democracy to the Muslim Middle East.
In the process, America obliged the leaders of international terrorism to concentrate all their efforts on preventing democracy from emerging in Iraq. By inflicting defeat on them there – where they were strongest – U.S. armed forces have dealt a blow to terrorist morale from which it may never recover. The families of American and Allied soldiers killed in Iraq should take comfort from this. The operation has succeeded. Terrorism is now on the retreat, and countless innocent lives may be saved in consequence.
But now we must move on. One of the objects of President Bush’s second term must be to ensure that neither the terrorists nor their actual or potential allies among the rogue states get possession of nuclear weapons. Attention has so far concentrated on Iran, which finances and arms various terrorist groups, and will certainly use nuclear weapons against Israel if it contrives to create a workable delivery system. But a more important, urgent, and difficult case is North Korea…
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