We're at war again, and bringing criminals into courtrooms for showy trials is not the kind of victory we need.
Americans who saw devastated portions of England and the European continent after World War II often remarked about the innumerable flattened sites where "nothing was more than one brick high." The same is true of parts of New York City and Washington right now.
A common follow-up comment focused on how fortunate America and its people were that they never had personally experienced the horrors of all-out war because so many conflicts of a massive nature occurred on other soil. Our cities, they pointed out, had never been bombed by a foriegn power the way locations in Europe and the Pacific region had been. However, the killing fields of the U.S. Civil War were horrible. We have, indeed, had brutal war activity in our land.
But the major difference then was that even though innocent civilians were victimized, the goals were primarily of a military nature nothing like the random slaughter brought about this week with the terrorist strikes in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. All this occurred to set "examples," not to conquer some specific territory or gain dominance over another nation.
In past cases, opponents have been readily identifiable, whether their uniforms were blue or gray, showed swastikas or versions of a rising sun. We could go after people and their planes, ships and tanks with a clear view of whom to seek, strike and destroy.
Appropriate retribution in the case of the New York-Washington tragedies will not be easy because of the shrouded nature of the people behind them. America has to be careful that the targets it strikes are legitimate and then not apologize in the least for whatever occurs.
We will continually hear pleas for reason, compassion and ethical and moral behavior in response to these assaults. Most Americans do not want to hear that. We are going to be told not to hate and seek revenge, but that is precisely what is necessary in combating the cowards who have assaulted our values, major structures representing our way of life and, most importantly, innocent individuals and families who did absolutely nothing to justify their fate.
The people who plotted and planned and carried out these vicious attacks should be hunted down and killed. The sooner the better, though this task will be enormous considering the elusive nature of terrorists and the fact our intelligence capabilities clearly are not all they should be.
Millions of Americans have overcome shock, have gone into grief and now are turning to the emotion of anger and resentment. They want and deserve evidence that everything possible is being done to eliminate international criminals such as Islamic darling Osama bin Laden.
In 1942, surprisingly soon after the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, American B-25 bombers commanded by Gen. Jimmy Doolittle took off from carriers and struck Japan, including parts of Tokyo. It was a token raid, and no major damage was created. But we made a point: The bad guys were vulnerable and could be hit, and would be hit again and again until they capitulated.
We did and they did. Those "30 seconds over Tokyo" were vital to our resurgence and we need something of that nature now.
We have an unprecedented challenge because of the nature of this slinky enemy. We can prevail because we must.
Many of our citizens of middle age and younger are well aware that they have never been tested quite the way the World War II generation was. At that time, a nation of people without a hard military core rose up to prevail over Germans and Japanese who had been born to war mentalities and were superbly trained to conquer and murder.
The opposition is much more difficult to identify and isolate this time, but American fiber, determination, courage and resolve are more than good enough to win this battle, too.
There will be more heartbreaks and setbacks, but we can and will win and show ourselves and the rest of the world that America still is nobody's whipping boy. And never will be.