June 19, 2001 | News Releases on Department of Homeland Security

Bush Should Build Anti-Terrorist Coalition Carefully, Analyst Says

WASHINGTON, Sep. 19, 2001-The group of nations President Bush is recruiting to assist the United States in its war against terrorism need not encompass everyone to be effective, a new Heritage Foundation paper says, because some potential allies have agendas that could conflict with American foreign policy goals.

Consider what happened during the Persian Gulf War, says Kim Holmes, Heritage's vice president for foreign policy. One of the reasons U.S.-led forces didn't invade Baghdad was because many Arab allies wouldn't allow it, thus permitting Saddam Hussein to remain in power and sponsor terrorists.

"This isn't the time to cut clever political deals that result in half-way measures in the war against terrorism," says Holmes, who sits on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Policy Board advisory group. "If the price is too high, the president should tell would-be allies that Americans will get the job done without them."

Some countries already are calculating how to capitalize on America's call for allies in the war against terrorism. Washington Post Deputy Editorial Page Editor Jackson Diehl noted in a Sept. 17 column that Europeans see a "huge opportunity" to sell President Bush on multilateral agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

In the war against terrorism, the United States doesn't need large numbers of allied troops, Holmes says. It needs access to allied airspace and intelligence, in addition to logistical, economic and diplomatic support to defeat Osama bin Laden and his associates. At some point, allies might need to lend U.S. forces their military bases, but the United States shouldn't "build an unwieldy coalition of military forces that gives everybody a seat at the decision table," he says.

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