THE GENERATIONAL CHALLENGE
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, that killed nearly three thousand Americans were signposts of a new era, a turning point in our history. Terrorism is a historic and existential challenge that redefines traditional notions of security, and combating it must be at the top of the nation's agenda and therefore at the core of a Republican foreign policy. But the war on terrorism cannot be considered in isolation, without taking into account the wider crisis of governance throughout the developing world, especially in the greater Middle East.
In taking military action against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, President George W. Bush understood that the war on terrorism must be more than the rightful use of military force. There must be a U.S. purpose commensurate with our use of power. As President Bush told a joint session of Congress on January 29, 2002, "we have a greater objective than eliminating threats and containing resentment. We seek a just and peaceful world beyond the war on terror."
A wise foreign policy recognizes that U.S. leadership is determined as much by our commitment to principle as by our exercise of power. Foreign policy is the bridge between the United States and the world, and between the past, the present, and the future. The United States must grasp the forces of change, including the power of a restless and unpredictable new generation that is coming of age throughout the world. Trust and confidence in U.S. leadership and intentions are critical to shaping a vital global connection with this next generation.
The challenges to U.S. leadership and security will come not from rival global powers, but from weak states. Terrorism finds sanctuary in failed or failing states, in unresolved regional conflicts, and in the misery of endemic poverty and despair. Rogue regimes that support terrorism seek legitimacy and power through the possession of weapons of mass destruction, rather than from the will of their people. Terrorism and proliferation go hand in glove with the challenges of failed and failing states.