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A vote for letting cooler heads prevail

The events of Sept. 11 leave America ruminating on the events that led us to this point and wondering, where do we go from here?

Up until the attacks, the Bush Administration all but ignored the findings of the bipartisan U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century, headed by former Senators Gary Hart, D-Colo., and Warren Rudman, R-N.H. This commission, convened in 1998 under President Clinton, reported in January to the White House that under current conditions, a domestic terrorist attack on the United States was bound to happen.

Although it’s unlikely that paying heed to this warning would have prevented the recent tragedy, it may have left the nation better prepared for the disaster that struck. These two former senators worked very hard lobbying on behalf of their recommendations, which included the formation of the National Homeland Security Agency that President Bush finally instituted last week. The executive summary of the report is posted at

The administration has found that its unilateralist policies are not realistic when faced with issues of national tragedy. While Kyoto and the missile defense issue suddenly seem controversies of a bygone era, the administration is reminded of the allies America has in Europe and across the globe. America, in fact, has need of other nations, just as they have need of us.

The defense of freedom supercedes any isolationist policies. The noble attitudes of other nations are something we should look to for inspiration, rather than simply support. Bush called Tony Blair “friend” in his speech last week. Is this a simple platitude? All along he has referred to European nations as “friends.” It is time to go further, these are not simply friends, or acquaintances – the administration must accept them as partners.

With the exception of a few rogue nations we have been alienating over the years, the United States has overwhelming support from across the globe. The inhabitants of the friendly nations recognize something many Americans do not: That these acts of terror are attacks on all free peoples, not simple these United States in which we reside.

Therefore, it is not a time to rally around Old Glory – it is a time to rally around the flag of the United Nations. As Ira Glass of Public Radio International’s “This American Life” put it, there is a time when all of this flag waving becomes a “blank check” written to the administration and the armed forces – a blank check which they can spend any way they wish. This is the same fear voiced by our partners in Europe – they give us their full support, but worry that our thirst is for infinite vengeance, rather than Infinite Justice.

The administration has previously shelved global partnership and negotiation on such salient and critical issues as the environment and racism, thus far failing to make us part of a coalition for the good of all people everywhere. Now let us hope that our international representatives will open their eyes. The support of our partners is imperative to the emotional, psychological and logistical survival of this nation, one among many. Let us proceed with caution.