AP/Wide World Photos
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 come.

      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 Maxwell’s 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.


Patriotism
and Social Progress

The 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 of self-deprecation.
      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.

—Laurence Thomas, professor of
philosophy and political science,
Maxwell School and
College of Arts and Sciences

 

 


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Reflections In Memoriam Time of Terror Lessons of Hope
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