All-or-nothing foreign policy

Is anyone else concerned (more like scared and lots) over the idea of basing our entire foreign policy on how a country responds to the 911 attacks? This talk of making no distinction between terrorists and the states who “harbor” them. And last night’s speech, when Bush said you’re either fer us or agin’ us. I thought almost immediately of France. It is a violation of French law to extradite suspects who will face the death penalty in the country requesting extradition. Presumably the alleged terrorists would face the death penalty if tried in the United States. Any suspects captured in France would be unextraditable unless the United States guaranteed not to seek the death penalty, something it seems unlikely to do. So if France captures someone the United States wants and refuses to extradite him, does France then become an enemy of the state? Now I read that sanctions placed on Pakistan by the United States in the wake of its arms race with India have been lifted in exchange for Pakistan’s pledge of cooperation. Other threads have asked about whether the United States should have carte blanche in dealing with these attacks. The opposite question should also be asked: is the United States willing to give carte blanche to other nations to do what they will so long as they support United States policy on terrorism?


Great question, Otto. It’s hard to believe the US would nuke France if they refused to turn over a particular terrorist.

OTOH it would have been stupid if Bush had said, “Gee, we’d kinda like it if you other countries would stop helping terrorists. But, if you want to keep helping them, that’s OK.”

Actually, the France example may be a bit far-fetched. By, “harbor terrorists,” I thought Bush meant countries that let them have bases.

You can relax, Otto. It was just political rhetoric. George W. is trying to build a coalition and strong words are necessary at this point. He wasn’t implying that we would nuke France if they don’t let us give Bin Laden the chair. He’s just saying that all nations should consider Bin Laden persona non gratis and any nation found aiding him will suffer reprisals.

As to Pakistan, that’s just realpolitik. Same thing we’ve been doing with China for decades.

1- there are many cites about the French Law (if you can read French). It is true that they will not extradite anyone that faces death penalty. Just go to google search and type: extradition French Law “Death penalty”. Here is one cite in English:

2- Now back to the OP. My preferences ranking on the fate of the terrorists are:

a - Send the Delta Force and kill them wherever they are on the spot.
b - Get them and put them on trial
c - If the result of trial in the US is execution, that is fine with me
d - If the result of trial is life imprisonment in France or in the Hague, that would be OK too. But that is my 4th preference.

3- Now to the key question:

Is the US willing to give carte blanche to other nations to do what they will so long as they support US policy on terrorism?

IMHO we must understand the meaning of Al-Gha’ede (Western media calls it “Al-Ka-ida”). I am told that in Arabic language, Al-Gha’ede means basics. It can also imply new paradigm, new protocol or new order.

If the US foreign policy is based on protecting and promoting self-interest, then yes, let’s give carte blanche to those countries that are willing to join us in eradicating terrorism.

If the US foreign policy is going to change and be based on Global Interest, then no, we cannot give carte blanche.

It is up to us in the United States to decide what “paradigm” or what “Al-Gha’ede” we want to follow.

They are already referring to this as “The Bush Doctrine”. I am sure that in the spirit of the Monroe Doctrine and the Truman Doctrine it is not a hard and fast rule, but as more of a guideline (sorry for the Ghostbusters reference). Granted I believe to be a strong guiding principle, but a quide more than a rule or law.

This is all well and good to say what Bush meant, but what he said could be very alienating to countries and governments that weren’t already (in some ways) sympathetic to the US in this matter.

I loved his entire speech except for that. I winced when I heard him say (paraphrased) “You are either with us or against us.” Ack! I don’t expect every country in the world to send us troops and fund this!

I know what he meant, but what he said left little room for the consciencious objectors.

“Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.”

‘Concientious objectors’? The problem is, there are countries out there that fund these terrorist organizations, that turn a blind eye to their actions, that look the other way as terrorists use their land to set up camps, their government to set up IDs, etc.

The only way to root out terrorism is to ensure that no country is willing to aid and abet these terrorists, whether it be through funding or through offering sanctuary. So long as the terrorists can hide in Syria or Libya or Iraq or Afghanistan, we can’t fight them without fighting Syria, Libya, Iraq, or Afghanistan.

Any country which is not willing to abide by this- that is not willing to agree to not support terrorists and not provide a haven for them- must be considered at war with us. Because they are. Because they will fund and support and nurture the groups that will attack us again and again and kill thousands more civilians.

I do not believe there will be a demand that all other countries provide troops or send us military aid. But there will be the demand that all other countries stop harboring terrorists. And any country that refuses is already at war with us, de facto if not de jure.

John, I know what you are saying, and we both know what Bush meant, but that wasn’t what he said.

Country A says: “Look, we’ve never had terrorist acts here, we have no terrorist activity within our borders, we want nothing to do with this ‘War on terrorism.’”

Now, are they with us or against us? Well, they aren’t ‘with’ us in that they aren’t offering aid, intelligence, or other support. Bu they aren’t against us because they aren’t doing anything for the terrorists either.

It is simply a false dichotomy, and it bothered me.

Well, eris, question to you then.

We go up to Country A and state, “We need financial records from your main bank in reference to this shady character we believe is behind a terrorist organization.”

Country A replies, “Look, we’ve never had terrorist acts here, we have no terrorist activity within our borders, we want nothing to do with this ‘War on terrorism.’”

Are they for us, against us, or neutral? Quite frankly, I think they’re against us, because they’re helping hide terrorists.
I doubt there is any country out there that won’t be pulled into this. Whether it be through giving information, keeping tabs on various suspects, tracing purchases and travels, etc., I think you’d be hard pressed to find more than a half-dozen nations that don’t have some piece of important information or help to give us. And if they refuse to give us that information or help, they are protecting terrorists. Thus, they are either going to help, or they are going to be against us.

Nobody is going to be a neutral, unaffected party. Every country has a piece of this.

Would you equate Switzerland with a terrorist because they have bank holdings there? I wouldn’t… though I agree they would be against us in the scenario you suggest.

You’re right, John, about the money. Many European countries have been frustrated by those anonymous numbered Swiss bank accounts since terrorism began here seriously in the early 70’s. It’s been damn difficult to get evidence without them. US pressure might well finally add something significant to that crucial aspect of the on-going war.

I’m sorry but it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that those particular bankers are arrogant, self-interested bastards.

Yes, I would. If Switzerland makes the concious decision to hide bank accounts from us and make it harder to for us to track down the members of the organization that did this or other organizations that are planning attacks, then we must punish Switzerland, whether it be through sanctions, tariffs, or some other means.

This is brutal, but our enemy is far worse. And so long as any country is willing to pussyfoot around and pretend it doesn’t affect them and that they’re not an eventual target, we need to be nasty and brutal.

Needless to say, I was replying to eris in my previous post. My apologies for any confusion. And I thank London Calling for his support.

Fair enough, John, but we’re still not equating terrorists with the Swiss (in this example). We wouldn’t run into Switzerland and take over their banks with military action, you know what I mean?

If the Swiss government chooses to deliberately protect terrorists’ assets, then they have chosen their side as surely as has the Taliban regime. I mean, where is the moral ambiguity here?

Or are you just suggesting we ought to cut the Swiss some slack because they’re wealthy and white?

Seriously, though, I don’t think the Swiss will stand in the way of prosecuting these guys. They may not have a lot of systems set up to do so at present, thanks to their long habit of turning a blind eye towards money laundering within their banks.

But after sitting on Jewish assets for so long after the Holocaust, they have some P.R. points to make up, big time.

When push comes to shove, the Swiss are more beholden to the E.U. than they are to Osama Bin Laden.

Not a member of the EU and don’t plan to be in the near future – don’t think they’d get away with their methods of banking if they did join. Apart from banking, the good ol’ boys at the CYA Fact Book reckon:

Exports - partners:
EU 65.8% (Germany 22.6%, France 9.2%, Italy 8.0%, UK 5.5%, Austria 3.2%), US 12.4%, Japan 4.0% (1999)

  • bit early to put the squeeze on trade (some have to make their own houses a little tidier) but one imagines the Swiss are near the top of the list for the diplomatic head lock and raised knee manouvre.

Whoa. I’m for the war on terrorism. But I’d prefer to fight it alongside allies, even reluctant ones who grugingly accept that the other side just has no redeeming value (I harbor little illusions that we’ll run out of fingers counting our actual “friends”), rather than vassals.

I believe Bush was being consciously hyperbolic. He knows he does not have imperium over the heads of other equally sovereign states – certainly not to make them change or violate their own constitutions and laws to suit US policy --, but he has put them on notice that he expects quite more support than just telegrams of condolence.

He also knows there are places that may not really have the wherewithal to aid too much except for staying out of the way (What could, for example, St. Kitts-Nevis do beyond maybe providing a nice secluded spot for a secret negotiation meeting and posting a note at the airport saying “Terrorists Keep Out”?) or where asking the rulers to be 100% unconditionally on our side would be asking them to commit suicide (General Pervez in Pakistan is one brave dude).

Bush definitely will and should seek to make life hard on states and nongovernmental civil entities that actively promote and aid terrorism (and I certainly hope we hold out for stamping out or crippling ALL terrorism – including such as IRA, ETA, etc.) And he should make it clear that resumption of business-as-usual will come earlier, if at all, to those who lend some kind of a hand even if not directly involved. Maybe it’s time to review everyone’s “most favored nation” trade status.

I wonder if Switzerland’s ‘neutrality’ would be a factor.

Has there ever been any pressure on Switzerland in the past?

If not, I wonder how even allied country would react to pressure on a neutral country, or even say an ally, in the case of pressure on France if it ever was to come to that?
[sub]I also wonder if there needs to be a question mark at the end of the first sentence.[sub]

Perhaps this is totally wrong, and it smacks of urban legend, but a nun told us in fourth grade that one of the main reasons there weren’t many battles fought in Switzerland was that the terrain made it impossible for tanks to maneuver.

I’m not buying it now, though.