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Monday, November 24, 2003

Nation-building unsuitable to combat terrorism
The libertarian CATO Institute's web site has an op-ed today about the futility of "nation-building" as a means of stopping terrorism:

President Bush said that "it's in the interest of long-term peace in the world that we work for a free and secure and peaceful Iraq" shortly before he signed a bill that includes $20 billion to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan. But the nation-building experiment in Iraq has only served to help recruit large numbers of Muslims to join a renewed global jihad. The violence has spread beyond Iraq, as evidenced by the synagogue bombings in Istanbul and repeated suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia.

The prospects for peace in the world or security in the U.S. homeland are not good.
Nation-building is thus grossly unsuitable as a tool to combat terrorism, or the religious fundamentalism that drives it. An America that takes on the task of rebuilding the many failed or failing nations around the world will drive itself into bankruptcy and will find itself struggling against the same insecurity and combating the same forces that it encountered on 9/11.

The war against global terrorism entails the elimination of genuine threats that are lurking around the world today. This war will be most effective when it is based on sound intelligence collected in collaboration with other nations. Meanwhile, the war against the underlying religious fervor that fuels terrorism is not going to be won through nation-building or by the continued expansion of America's imperial footprint that engenders global resentment. It will be won through the patient building of a global consensus against hateful, nihilistic ideologies.

Actually, we saw something pretty close to a global consensus against a hateful ideology last February.

Libertarians are the kind of conservatives I can tolerate. The CATO Institute's slogan (at least on the web site) is "Individual Liberty, Limited Government, Free Markets and Peace."