Politics, media and war: 9/11 and its aftermaths
Politics, media and war: 9/11 and its aftermaths

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5.7.1 The US administration in 2008 (i)

Not all observers have shared the doubts about US power reported in the previous section, and some have remained more sanguine about its global exercise. For example, in ‘An American foreign policy for a unipolar world’, Charles Krauthammer argues that US power remains unique.

Activity 16 An American foreign policy for a unipolar world

Now read the extract from Krauthammer’s article. Krauthammer outlines several possible interpretations of the US’s role in a unipolar world, spelling out his preferred option as a variant of ‘democratic globalism’. While ‘the enemy’ might be irrational and therefore impervious to foreign influence, Krauthammer stresses the fact that the US retains control over its own extensive resources and that such conditions mean that there is still a real possibility that ‘we can prevail’.

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Others also endorsed the globalist, democratic realist approach. Edward Luttwak, for one, thought that the Bush conduct of the war on terror has been largely successful:

The Bush response to 9/11 was … a global attack against the ideology of Islamic militancy. While anti-terrorist operations have been successful here and there in a patchy way, and the fate of Afghanistan remains in doubt, the far more important ideological war has ended with a spectacular global victory for President Bush. [...] Until 9/11, Islamic militants, including violent jihadists of every sort, from al Qaeda to purely local outfits, enjoyed much public support – either overt or tacit – across most of the Muslim world. From Morocco to Indonesia, governments appeased militants at home while encouraging them to focus their violent activities abroad ... Other than the Algerian and Egyptian governments, every Muslim state preferred at least to coexist with militant preachers and jihadis in some way ... All this came to an abrupt end after 9/11. Sophisticates everywhere ridiculed the uncompromising Bush stance, "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists," as a cowboy stunt, but it was swiftly successful. Governments across the Muslim world quickly changed their conduct. Some moved energetically to close down local jihadist groups they had long tolerated, to silence extremist preachers and to keep out foreign jihadis they had previously welcomed.

[...] In different ways, other governments in Muslim countries all the way to Indonesia also took their stand with Bush and the US against the jihadists, even though jihad against the infidel is widely regarded as an Islamic duty. Suddenly, active Islamists and violent jihadists suffered a catastrophic loss of status. Instead of being admired, respected or at least tolerated, they had to hide, flee or give it up. Numbers started to shrink. The number of terrorist incidents outside the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq keeps going down, while madrassas almost everywhere have preferred toning down their teachings to being shut down. In Indonesia, the largest Muslim country, the dominant association of imams condemns all forms of violence without exception ... In Pakistan ... Bush forced the most dramatic reversal of policy. [As a result] the global jihadi mobilisation, triggered by post-9/11 enthusiasm for Osama bin Laden, was stopped before it could gain any momentum by all that Bush set in motion: the destruction of al Qaeda training bases in Afghanistan, the killing or capture of most of its operatives, and, most importantly, the conversion of Muslim governments from the support of jihad to its repression. Jihadism has been largely confined to Iraq and the border zones of Pakistan. [Bush's declaration]"You are with us or with the terrorists" was the right slogan and the right policy.

(Luttwak, 2008)

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