Keenan Singleton Audrey Warren
"The U.S. needs to be engaged in world affairs. If you don't do it now,
you'll have to do it later, but it will take a lot more time, effort and
Those words were spoken in Houston by Reuven Hazan, an Israeli scholar
and government adviser, speaking on the year-long violence between Israelis
and Palestinians. The speech occurred on Sept. 4. A week later, those words
Hazan was speaking about the Bush Administration's policy of disengaging
from the Mideast peace process, presumably to let the parties sort it out
for themselves. During his presidential campaign, Bush repeatedly said
that if there was to be peace, it couldn't be on "our timetable."
But last month, the violence in the Mideast was brought to our shores
in an unimaginably horrendous act. Suddenly, the U.S. policy of disengagement
became not merely questionable, but inconceivable.
Throughout its history, America has had an on-again, off-again relationship
with world events. We've flexed our military and economic muscle for brief
periods (the Spanish-American War, World War I), then retreated back to
the safety of our homes, protected by two oceans from the messiness of
After the end of World War II, that was no longer possible. A superpower,
we were engaged in a decades long Cold War with the Soviet Union. All too
often in that struggle, however, our government turned away from the nation's
highest ideals in the name of expedience. In many parts of the world --
Asia, Central America and, yes, the Middle East -- we supported tyrants
who oppressed their own people, simply because they opposed communism.
Now, we're the sole superpower. The Soviet Union disintegrated a decade
ago, hastened in no small way by its disastrous invasion of Afghanistan.
But when the Red Army retreated, the United States turned its back on
the Afghans we had supported and armed in their fight for freedom. That
contributed to the creation of a power vacuum, a devastating civil war
and the eventual emergence of the Taliban, our new enemies.
If we're going to be the world's superpower, we have to do something
quite different than simply march in to world crises when it suits our
needs and impose our will. We have to strive to understand the forces that
drive the conflicts and actively work to create opportunities for the parties
to find humanitarian solutions.
Above all, we have to maintain a sense of our own moral authority. That
can only happen if our foreign policy remains in keeping with the principles
enshrined in our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and