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International Security
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Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Martin Luther King, Jr. -- "Letter from Birmingham Jail," 16 April 1963

I think King's words grow in relevance as history marches on. We live in a world that, because of advances in transportation and communication technology, is growing smaller and smaller all the time.

Thus, when we talk about our national security, we're also talking about international security.

Consider Afghanistan prior to 9/11. The Taliban was a brutal, oppressive regime, one that few countries even recognized as a legitimate government. Meanwhile, their country functioned as a nest for radical terrorist elements, enabling them to train and plan as they pleased.

For the most part, though, we didn't pay much attention. Remember when the Taliban blew up the Buddhist statues? I remember Steve Martin cracking a joke about it at the Oscars that year. Oh, we were saying, look at these quaint, backwards religious nuts. Ha, ha...very funny. Meanwhile, Al Qaeda continued to train and plan and devise new ways to kill as many American civilians as possible.

Were the conditions in Afghanistan linked to ours? Was the security of Afghanistan related to our security? That question was answered emphatically as the jets screamed into the World Trade Center buildings and the Pentagon.

Many point to Iraq and say they are not an immediate threat. Was Afghanistan an immediate threat before 9/11? Al Qaeda had bombed the WTC in 1993 and had attacked African embassies later in the 90's, but would the U.N. have sanctioned military action against Afghanistan on the basis of these incidents? Of course not. But should we have taken military action to disrupt and disable Al Qaeda's bases of operation in Afghanistan much earlier?

Naysayers against preemptive action would argue no.

We stand in front of a crazed lunatic brandishing a knife. Do we take action to take the knife away before he uses it? No, some critics would say. We have to wait until he stabs us in the belly before we respond in any way.

This is nonsensical. We need to be able to recognize the threat, and act to prevent it. The emergence and proliferation of nuclear weapons makes the case even more urgent. If we apply the same threat threshold as we did prior to 9/11, we should wait until a suitcase nuke goes off in L.A.

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