An F-14A launches
from the flight deck of the USS Enterprise to conduct a
mission over Afghanistan.
The military action in which we are now engaged should not be
seen as separate from other fronts of the war, since it shares
their objective of weakening and ultimately defeating the terrorist
network. While our counterattack is currently targeted on theTaliban
and the forces of Osama bin Laden, our forces may also need
to be employed against other nodes of the network. But just
as military action was not the first option to be used, it will
not be the last. Afghanistan is important, but winning there
will not win the war. Because of the enemy’s nature, we cannot
expect the kind of final victory we might have in a conventional
war. If military force defeats our enemies in Afghanistan, work
on the diplomatic, economic, legal, and intelligence fronts
to disrupt the rest of the network will become even more important—and
potentially more effective.
In the final analysis, our success will
depend on the ability of our political leadership to motivate
and inspire our—and our allies’—support, resolve, and sense
of sacrifice over the course of many years. While this success
cannot be defined in terms of total victory, effective, purposeful,
and coordinated efforts on all fronts of the battlefield can
ensure our society a much greater degree of security and safety,
and more complete enjoyment of our liberties in the years to
Melvyn Levitsky, who recently retired
as a career minister in the U.S. Foreign Service, is a professor
of international relations and public administration at the
Maxwell School and a Distinguished Fellow at Maxwells
Global Affairs Institute. During his 35-year career as a U.S.
diplomat, he served as ambassador to Brazil and Bulgaria, and
held such senior positions as assistant secretary of state for
international narcotics matters, and deputy assistant secretary
of state for human rights.
and Social Progress
September 11 attack is the most significant challenge
that American society has had to relativism since World
War II. Out of supposed respect for social and cultural
differences, we have so accustomed ourselves to asking,
“Who is to say what is better?” that we have lost sight
of what is good and bad. We have lost sight of the real
as we play in the realm of ideology. Along the way we
have confused the virtue of self-criticism with the vice
There are, to be sure, many ways
in which America can change for the better. But we must
not let this important truth blind us to the equally important
truth that for all of our shortcomings, we have made unparalleled
social progress. The social standing held by women in
America simply towers over that of women in Afghanistan.
Do we not, then, have greater gender equality? The Taliban
government will not brook the least disagreement; whereas
for all of the defects of our government, each American
citizen can shout from the highest mountain his objections
to government policies. Who among my colleagues would
trade places? In America, a Satan worshipper can demand
equal time; whereas in some Arabic countries, being a
Christian makes one an enemy of the state, and fit to
be killed. Or dare I say murdered? Are we not freer?
For some, these remarks mean that
I am frothing at the mouth with the “disease” of patriotism.
I think not. For these differences are among the very
reasons why America is so despised by the Taliban and
bin Laden. Now, if they can see this as a reality in America,
and surely patriotism is not the explanation in their
case, then why can’t I?
I will never be complacent about
America. But I will always be glad that I was born here
and not there. And if that makes me patriotic, then I
wouldn’t have it any other way.
Thomas, professor of
philosophy and political science,
Maxwell School and
College of Arts and Sciences