The unstated logic is that the real threat to open societies today comes from all the angry young men and women being produced by the misgovernance, backwardness and extremism emanating from that [Arab] part of the world. And if that anger results in another 9/11 it will mean the end of the open society as we know it, and globalization as we know it.
That is why helping the Arab-Muslim world get onto a different course is the only meaningful response to 9/11. But it is a long-term, difficult, risky, costly, audacious project. It is one that will require a real nation-building commitment, and a real effort to stabilize the region by simultaneously promoting a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Is the Bush team up for all that? Is the nation up for all that? I'm not sure.
The Bush team better be up for that because Friedman is also right that most Americans aren't really convinced that war with Iraq is absolutely necessary. They certainly need to do a much better job of explaining to us what we're fighting and standing for and why it's the right and moral thing to do. Too many Americans agree with our European "friends" and think that the US is acting like a bully.
The administration has done a poor job of selling us on the need for unilateral action. Maybe it's because they don't believe that any action will be unilateral, but you wouldn't know it from the rhetoric.
Even those of us who believe that fighting Iraq, replacing Saddam and helping them towards democracy is the right thing to do are questioning the White House. Both the case they are making and the outcome they are seeking are unclear. Maybe this morning's presentation by Colin Powell to the Security Council will help to clarify things, but until the case for war is made we should expect and even demand more answers from the government.
My guess is that a real coalition will be involved in any action in Iraq. The public rhetoric is part of the diplomatic process with our friends in Europe and the Middle East. But Friedman is right:
...Therefore it's time for the president to level with the American people about what will be required to make this war a success. Because ultimately it is the support of the American people — not the U.N., not France, not Poland — that will determine whether we have the means to see it through.