By Fareed Zakaria
Newsweek, September 24, 2001
Historians will surely say, "This was the week that America changed." In the midst of jagged emotions of the moment - horror, rage, grief - we can all sense that the country has crossed a watershed. But we don't quite know what that means. Accustomed as we are to whipping up a froth of hysteria about trivia, we are struck silent by honest-to-goodness history.
Or History. This is surely the End of the End of History-the notion that after the cold war, ideological or political tussles were dead and life would be spent managing the economy and worrying about consumerism. In his brilliant essay, Francis Fukuyama actually considered the threat of radical Islam but pointed out correctly that, unlike communism, it has no ideological appeal beyond the borders of the Muslim world. Radical Islam as an ideology, in other words, posed no threat to the West. But we pose a threat to it, one its followers feel with blinding intensity. It turns out it takes only one side to restart History.
This is also the end of triumph of economics. That's not to say that the economy will not remain central to our society. But the ideal that politics was unimportant and that government didn't matter seems almost absurd in the light of last week's events. (And not just government and the highest levels. Who can look at the extraordinary sacrifice made by the firefighters and policemen of New York City and still believe that making a million dollars is the meaning of life?) When asked whether the administration's $40 billion request to rebuild New York and combat terrorism would bust the budget, the president's spokesman brushed it off, saying simply, "National security comes first."
Around the world we will see governments become more powerful, more intrusive and more important. This may not please civil libertarians and human-rights activists, but it will not matter. The state is back, and for the oldest Hobbesian reason in the book - the provision of security.
For Americans, security has seemed a birthright. As a result, for much of the past century America has felt that foreign policy was a matter of choice, not necessity. We have been deeply involved in the world, but we have also withdrawn from it when we wished. In our diplomacy and alliances, we assumed that the world needed us more than we needed them.
No more. Of course we should and will strike alone when necessary. Well-placed sources have told me that the administration is convinced that the Afghan government knows where Osama bin Laden is. He may even be under its protection. We should make clear to the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan that unless they hand him over they will pay a terrible price. But that price would be greater still if we get NATO and Russia to join with us.
Even more importantly, the real war against terrorism is going to be a war of police work, intelligence and covert actions. We cannot do this alone. We will need the active support of other governments to cooperate, share information, close down safe houses, confiscate assets and make arrests. For the first time, we need them as much as they need us.
Some have said that this is also, finally, the end of the cold war. Our military, for example, will now properly refocus itself around this new threat. Yes, but in another sense, the cold war is back. The long twilight struggle we face, like that against communism, is both military and political. The first is crucial: just as the nuclear buildup and proxy battles were at the center of the cold war, so military strikes and covert operations will be at the core of this one. But as important was the political struggle we waged across the world. From the start, America realized on of its chief missions was to discredit communism and lessen its appeal around the world. Our task now is to make sure that radical Islam is not seen as an attractive option around the Muslim world. We can do this in various ways but most significantly by supporting Muslim moderates and secularists. No matter how successful the military strategy, ultimately this war will be won or lost on these political grounds.
For America, this is the end of unilateralism. And for the rest of the world it is the end of the free ride. People are now going to realize just how much they enjoyed the benefits of globalization; the peace and prosperity; the ease of trade and travel, the information and entertainment. They watched the movies, listened to the music, read the magazines, vacationed in America and sent their children to college here. But none of this required them actively to support the United States or affirm its values. They could denounce America by day and consume its bounties by night.
But all these countries - in Europe and Asia and Latin America - must recognize that the world they have gotten used to will not survive if America is crippled. The United States is the pivot that makes today's globalization go round. If other countries believe in individual liberty, in free enterprise and free trade, in religious freedom, in democracy, then they are eating the fruits of the American order. And this order can be truly secure only when all those who benefit from it stand in its defense. Those abroad who love liberty cannot watch this war as if it were a horror movie, wondering how it will end. This is your struggle, too.