An Essential War By GEORGE P. SHULTZ March 29, 2004; Page A18 We have struggled with terrorism for a long time. In the Reagan administration, I was a hawk on the subject. I said terrorism is a big problem, a different problem, and we have to take forceful action against it. Fortunately, Ronald Reagan agreed with me, but not many others did. (Don Rumsfeld was an outspoken exception.) In those days we focused on how to defend against terrorism. We reinforced our embassies and increased our intelligence effort. We thought we made some progress. We established the legal basis for holding states responsible for using terrorists to attack Americans anywhere. Through intelligence, we did abort many potential terrorist acts. But we didn't really understand what motivated the terrorists or what they were out to do. In the 1990s, the problem began to appear even more menacing. Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were well known, but the nature of the terrorist threat was not yet comprehended and our efforts to combat it were ineffective. Diplomacy without much force was tried. Terrorism was regarded as a law enforcement problem and terrorists as criminals. Some were arrested and put on trial. Early last year, a judge finally allowed the verdict to stand for one of those convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Ten years! Terrorism is not a matter that can be left to law enforcement, with its deliberative process, built-in delays, and safeguards that may let the prisoner go free on procedural grounds. Today, looking back on the past quarter century of terrorism, we can see that it is the method of choice of an extensive, internationally connected ideological movement dedicated to the destruction of our international system of cooperation and progress. We can see that the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat, the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the 2001 destruction of the Twin Towers, the bombs on the trains in Madrid, and scores of other terrorist attacks in between and in many countries, were carried out by one part or another of this movement. And the movement is connected to states that develop awesome weaponry, with some of it, or with expertise, for sale. What should we do? First and foremost, shore up the state system. The world has worked for three centuries with the sovereign state as the basic operating entity, presumably accountable to its citizens and responsible for their well-being. In this system, states also interact with each other -- bilaterally or multilaterally -- to accomplish ends that transcend their borders. They create international organizations to serve their ends, not govern them. Increasingly, the state system has been eroding. Terrorists have exploited this weakness by burrowing into the state system in order to attack it. While the state system weakens, no replacement is in sight that can perform the essential functions of establishing an orderly and lawful society, protecting essential freedoms, providing a framework for fruitful economic activity, contributing to effective international cooperation, and providing for the common defense. * * * I see our great task as restoring the vitality of the state system within the framework of a world of opportunity, and with aspirations for a world of states that recognize accountability for human freedom and dignity. All established states should stand up to their responsibilities in the fight against our common enemy, terror; be a helpful partner in economic and political development; and take care that international organizations work for their member states, not the other way around. When they do, they deserve respect and help to make them work successfully. The civilized world has a common stake in defeating the terrorists. We now call this what it is: a War on Terrorism. In war, you have to act on both offense and defense. You have to hit the enemy before the enemy hits you. The diplomacy of incentives, containment, deterrence and prevention are all made more effective by the demonstrated possibility of forceful pre-emption. Strength and diplomacy go together. They are not alternatives; they are complements. You work diplomacy and strength together on a grand and strategic scale and on an operational and tactical level. But if you deny yourself the option of forceful pre-emption, you diminish the effectiveness of your diplomatic moves. And, with the consequences of a terrorist attack as hideous as they are -- witness what just happened in Madrid -- the U.S. must be ready to pre-empt identified threats. And not at the last moment, when an attack is imminent and more difficult to stop, but before the terrorist gets in position to do irreparable harm. Over the last decade we have seen large areas of the world where there is no longer any state authority at all, an ideal environment for terrorists to plan and train. In the early 1990s we came to realize the significance of a "failed state." Earlier, people allowed themselves to think that, for example, an African colony could gain its independence, be admitted to the U.N. as a member state, and thereafter remain a sovereign state. Then came Somalia. All government disappeared. No more sovereignty, no more state. The same was true in Afghanistan. And who took over? Islamic extremists. They soon made it clear that they regarded the concept of the state as an abomination. To them, the very idea of "the state" was un-Islamic. They talked about reviving traditional forms of pan-Islamic rule with no place for the state. They were fundamentally, and violently, opposed to the way the world works, to the international state system. The United States launched a military campaign to eliminate the Taliban and al Qaeda's rule over Afghanistan. Now we and our allies are trying to help Afghanistan become a real state again and a viable member of the international state system. Yet there are many other parts of the world where state authority has collapsed or, within some states, large areas where the state's authority does not run. That's one area of danger: places where the state has vanished. A second area of danger is found in places where the state has been taken over by criminals or warlords. Saddam Hussein was one example. Kim Jong Il of North Korea is another. They seize control of state power and use that power to enhance their wealth, consolidate their rule and develop their weaponry. As they do this, and as they violate the laws and principles of the international system, they at the same time claim its privileges and immunities, such as the principle of non-intervention into the internal affairs of a legitimate sovereign state. For decades these thugs have gotten away with it. And the leading nations of the world have let them get away with it. This is why the case of Saddam Hussein and Iraq is so significant. After Saddam Hussein consolidated power, he started a war against one of his neighbors, Iran, and in the course of that war he committed war crimes including the use of chemical weapons, even against his own people. About 10 years later he started another war against another one of his neighbors, Kuwait. In the course of doing so he committed war crimes. He took hostages. He launched missiles against a third and then a fourth country in the region. That war was unique in modern times because Saddam totally eradicated another state, and turned it into "Province 19" of Iraq. The aggressors in wars might typically seize some territory, or occupy the defeated country, or install a puppet regime; but Saddam sought to wipe out the defeated state, to erase Kuwait from the map of the world. That got the world's attention. That's why, at the U.N., the votes were wholly in favor of a U.S.-led military operation -- Desert Storm -- to throw Saddam out of Kuwait and to restore Kuwait to its place as a legitimate state in the international system. There was virtually universal recognition that those responsible for the international system of states could not let a state simply be rubbed out. When Saddam was defeated, in 1991, a cease-fire was put in place. Then the U.N. Security Council decided that, in order to prevent him from continuing to start wars and commit crimes against his own people, he must give up his arsenal of "weapons of mass destruction." Recall the way it was to work. If Saddam cooperated with U.N. inspectors and produced his weapons and facilitated their destruction, then the cease-fire would be transformed into a peace agreement ending the state of war between the international system and Iraq. But if Saddam did not cooperate, and materially breached his obligations regarding his weapons of mass destruction, then the original U.N. Security Council authorization for the use of "all necessary force" against Iraq -- an authorization that at the end of Desert Storm had been suspended but not cancelled -- would be reactivated and Saddam would face another round of the U.S.-led military action against him. Saddam agreed to this arrangement. In the early 1990s, U.N. inspectors found plenty of materials in the category of weapons of mass destruction and they dismantled a lot of it. They kept on finding such weapons, but as the presence of force declined, Saddam's cooperation declined. He began to play games and to obstruct the inspection effort. By 1998 the situation was untenable. Saddam had made inspections impossible. President Clinton, in February 1998, declared that Saddam would have to comply with the U.N. resolutions or face American military force. Kofi Annan flew to Baghdad and returned with a new promise of cooperation from Saddam. But Saddam did not cooperate. Congress then passed the Iraq Liberation Act by a vote of 360 to 38 in the House of Representatives; the Senate gave its unanimous consent. Signed into law on October 31, it supported the renewed use of force against Saddam with the objective of changing the regime. By this time, he had openly and utterly rejected the inspections and the U.N. resolutions. In November 1998, the Security Council passed a resolution declaring Saddam to be in "flagrant violation" of all resolutions going back to 1991. That meant that the cease-fire was terminated and the original authorization for the use of force against Saddam was reactivated. President Clinton ordered American forces into action in December 1998. But the U.S. military operation was called off after only four days -- apparently because President Clinton did not feel able to lead the country in war at a time when he was facing impeachment. So inspections stopped. The U.S. ceased to take the lead. But the inspectors reported that as of the end of 1998 Saddam possessed major quantities of WMDs across a range of categories, and particularly in chemical and biological weapons and the means of delivering them by missiles. All the intelligence services of the world agreed on this. From that time until late last year, Saddam was left undisturbed to do what he wished with this arsenal of weapons. The international system had given up its ability to monitor and deal with this threat. All through the years between 1998 and 2002 Saddam continued to act and speak and to rule Iraq as a rogue state. President Bush made it clear by 2002, and against the background of 9/11, that Saddam must be brought into compliance. It was obvious that the world could not leave this situation as it was. The U.S. made the decision to continue to work within the scope of the Security Council resolutions -- a long line of them -- to deal with Saddam. After an extended and excruciating diplomatic effort, the Security Council late in 2002 passed Resolution 1441, which gave Saddam one final chance to comply or face military force. When on December 8, 2002, Iraq produced its required report, it was clear that Saddam was continuing to play games and to reject his obligations under international law. His report, thousands of pages long, did not in any way account for the remaining weapons of mass destruction that the U.N. inspectors had reported to be in existence as of the end of 1998. That assessment was widely agreed upon. That should have been that. But the debate at the U.N. went on -- and on. And as it went on it deteriorated. Instead of the focus being kept on Iraq and Saddam, France induced others to regard the problem as one of restraining the U.S. -- a position that seemed to emerge from France's aspirations for greater influence in Europe and elsewhere. By March of 2003 it was clear that French diplomacy had resulted in splitting NATO, the European Union, and the Security Council . . . and probably convincing Saddam that he would not face the use of force. The French position, in effect, was to say that Saddam had begun to show signs of cooperation with the U.N. resolutions because more than 200,000 American troops were poised on Iraq's borders ready to strike him; so the U.S. should just keep its troops poised there for an indeterminate time to come, until presumably France would instruct us that we could either withdraw or go into action. This of course was impossible militarily, politically, and financially. Where do we stand now? These key points need to be understood: • There has never been a clearer case of a rogue state using its privileges of statehood to advance its dictator's interests in ways that defy and endanger the international state system. • The international legal case against Saddam -- 17 resolutions -- was unprecedented. • The intelligence services of all involved nations and the U.N. inspectors over more than a decade all agreed that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction that posed a threat to international peace and security. • Saddam had four undisturbed years to augment, conceal, disperse, or otherwise deal with his arsenal. • He used every means to avoid cooperating or explaining what he has done with them. This refusal in itself was, under the U.N. resolutions, adequate grounds for resuming the military operation against him that had been put in abeyance in 1991 pending his compliance. • President Bush, in ordering U.S. forces into action, stated that we were doing so under U.N. Security Council Resolutions 678 and 687, the original bases for military action against Saddam Hussein in 1991. Those who criticize the U.S. for unilateralism should recognize that no nation in the history of the United Nations has ever engaged in such a sustained and committed multilateral diplomatic effort to adhere to the principles of international law and international organization within the international system. In the end, it was the U.S. that upheld and acted in accordance with the U.N. resolutions on Iraq, not those on the Security Council who tried to stop us. * * * The question of weapons of mass destruction is just that: a question that remains to be answered, a mystery that must be solved. Just as we also must solve the mystery of how Libya and Iran developed menacing nuclear capability without detection, of how we were caught unaware of a large and flourishing black market in nuclear material -- and of how we discovered these developments before they got completely out of hand and have put in place promising corrective processes. The question of Iraq's presumed stockpile of weapons will be answered, but that answer, however it comes out, will not affect the fully justifiable and necessary action that the coalition has undertaken to bring an end to Saddam Hussein's rule over Iraq. As Dr. David Kay put it in a Feb. 1 interview with Chris Wallace, "We know there were terrorist groups in state still seeking WMD capability. Iraq, although I found no weapons, had tremendous capabilities in this area. A marketplace phenomena was about to occur, if it did not occur; sellers meeting buyers. And I think that would have been very dangerous if the war had not intervened." When asked by Mr. Wallace what the sellers could have sold if they didn't have actual weapons, Mr. Kay said: "The knowledge of how to make them, the knowledge of how to make small amounts, which is, after all, mostly what terrorists want. They don't want battlefield amounts of weapons. No, Iraq remained a very dangerous place in terms of WMD capabilities, even though we found no large stockpiles of weapons." Above all, and in the long run, the most important aspect of the Iraq war will be what it means for the integrity of the international system and for the effort to deal effectively with terrorism. The stakes are huge and the terrorists know that as well as we do. That is the reason for their tactic of violence in Iraq. And that is why, for us and for our allies, failure is not an option. The message is that the U.S. and others in the world who recognize the need to sustain our international system will no longer quietly acquiesce in the take-over of states by lawless dictators who then carry on their depredations -- including the development of awesome weapons for threats, use, or sale -- behind the shield of protection that statehood provides. If you are one of these criminals in charge of a state, you no longer should expect to be allowed to be inside the system at the same time that you are a deadly enemy of it. Sept. 11 forced us to comprehend the extent and danger of the challenge. We began to act before our enemy was able to extend and consolidate his network. If we put this in terms of World War II, we are now sometime around 1937. In the 1930s, the world failed to do what it needed to do to head off a world war. Appeasement never works. Today we are in action. We must not flinch. With a powerful interplay of strength and diplomacy, we can win this war. Mr. Shultz, a former secretary of state, is a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. This is adapted from his Kissinger Lecture, given recently at the Library of Congress.