Tue, 18 Sep 2001

U.S. global role

In his statements following the Sept. 11 tragedies in New York and Washington D.C., President Bush, to his credit, has balanced popular domestic pressure for "sweeping, sustained and effective" action with the wise counsel of "careful, complex and patient" efforts against international terrorism.

The importance placed on emphasizing incontrovertible legal evidence with regard to the perpetrators and their financial backing relates to the need to explain to the diverse Indonesian political, religious as well as cultural constituents the scope, appropriateness and accuracy of an American response.

That is important not only in terms of the possible fallout for U.S. official and commercial interests in Indonesia, but to the dangers of random physical assault faced by American citizens throughout the country. It is a much more important concern than the domestic political effect President Megawati might face should the planned U.S. retaliatory strike occur as she sets foot on American soil during her Sept. 18 to 25 visit.

The underlying problem for the United States has been, is and will in the future be to define and implement a global role that makes "presence without dominance" an acceptable position for a country that, with its overwhelming strengths in political, economic, financial, military, scientific, technological -- even cultural -- power, is structurally bound to be the envy, despair and hatred of many marginalized groups resorting to violent acts of terror.

As for New York City and New Yorkers, I know that with grim determination they will build a new World Trade Center complex within the next three years.