'War on Terror' or Real Security?

This time last year, not many would have predicted that international relations—and, in particular, national security—would become an issue up for grabs in the 2004 presidential election. To combat the threat of international terrorism, the Bush administration has wielded the weighty tool of military force, waging war in Afghanistan and Iraq and threatening military intervention elsewhere. What would an alternative security strategy—one based on the "force of law" rather than the "law of force"—look like? The authors outline steps along a path toward a more just and secure future.

As we address foreign policy issues in the 2004 campaign, we must offer viable alternative means of responding to security threats and assuring justice. If we oppose war, we must have an answer to the questions that military action purports to answer. If we believe the Bush administration's "war on terror" is misguided, we need to have a better plan for countering terrorism.

Numerous nonmilitary options were available in Iraq, and are available generally, for addressing terrorism, weapons proliferation, and other threats to U.S. and international security. The war on Iraq was part of a new national security strategy developed by the Bush administration in response to the Sept. 11 attacks. The new strategy, released in September 2002, redefined the primary threat to U.S. security as the nexus between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction and the possibility of access to such weapons through failed states or "rogue" regimes.

The greatest danger was identified as the "crossroads of radicalism and technology," the fear that terrorists aided by tyrants would acquire and use nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons.

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Sojourners Magazine January 2004
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