Archive for Saturday, September 4, 2004

Americans must recognize ‘war against terrorism’ is real war

September 4, 2004


The term or phrase "war against terrorism" is being used with increasing frequency in news media around the world.

Evidence of this "war" was seen in Spain with the bombing of a passenger train that caused massive loss of life, in constant violent attacks in Israel, in the kidnapping and eventual death of perhaps hundreds in a tragic shootout at a Russian school, in the bombing of a nightclub in Bali, in the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center and on and on. It's almost become a weekly occurrence.

Terrorist actions are taking place throughout the world, targeting people of all ages, all races and all religions.

It's a cheap but effective way to try to kill, maim and spread fear.

Isn't it time to drop the phrase "war against terrorism" and acknowledge this country is engaged in a "war," plain and simple?

Calling it a "war against terrorism" puts it in the same category as a "war against poverty," a "war against AIDS," a "war against drunken drivers," and dozens of other similar efforts. There's no argument that all of these causes are of extreme importance, but there's not much chance of successfully taking on any of the issues above if this nation is not successful in its most important "war," the war against terrorism.

This being the case, why not acknowledge this country is engaged in a full-fledged war, a war this nation and other nations must win. The stakes are high.

If this is, indeed, the situation, it is fairly obvious this nation and its citizens can't continue to carry on with a "business as usual" attitude. It's time for public and elected officials to adopt a "war" mentality and do what is necessary to defeat this enemy.

As it is now, most Americans are well aware of the war against terrorism, but that's about it, unless they or their family members are among those serving in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force or Coast Guard.

The extra screening and additional delays at airports, purses being searched at events where large crowds are present, increased hearings and investigation by Senate Intelligence Committee members and "homeland security" efforts all remind the public there is increased concern about security. But aside from these and similar actions and developments, the average citizen doesn't spend much time worrying about terrorism or altering his or her way of life or priorities.

President Bush is trying to attack terrorism abroad and thereby keep additional terrorist attacks away from U.S. shores. There's a lot of talk about terrorism, but the public really doesn't seem overly exercised about the matter. Maybe some think terrorists were merely lucky to be able to take over several commercial passenger jets and crash them into the World Trade Center and Pentagon buildings and that it won't happen again. Maybe they think alerts about other possible terrorist actions are not as serious as some would like the public to believe. A number of top Democrats have even gone so far as to claim Bush and those in his administration are using terror alerts as a political trick to try to scare voters and win support for Bush.

What will it take for Americans to realize this country is under attack? It is not the so-called conventional war of World War I or the more sophisticated World War II or Korean War. New, highly technical equipment was used in the Gulf War, Desert Storm and Iraq War.

There were ground troops, tanks, airplanes and bombs in past wars with fairly well-defined lines of warfare. Today, it is all different; at times, it's almost impossible to distinguish an enemy from a friend. As noted above, terrorism is a cheap way to fight a war, and by injecting fear into the equation, terrorism becomes a highly effective way to subdue an enemy.

It's time, in fact past time, for Americans to accept the fact we are in a dangerous war, a very tough war and a war that will take years to win. "Winning" will be far different than surrenders and peace treaties in past wars. Unfortunately, this century's war is likely to last for years and will not be reduced to any kind of a comfortable level until leaders and citizens of countries around the world unite in an effort against terrorism.

Once again, Americans cannot be successful in this effort unless there is a total commitment and a realization that the war against terrorism isn't like other wars. There will be those who pooh-pooh such an idea, but they need to wake up and realize our enemies will quickly take advantage of this complacency and blindness. The war has been under way for some time, and it will not come to an end any time soon. It cannot be treated lightly or looked upon as someone else's worry or responsibility.

It would be wrong to adopt a bunker mentality and live in constant fear, but at the same time, Americans need to treat terrorism far more seriously. They need to support U.S. officials in their efforts to destroy terrorists and those who support or give safe harbor to terrorists.

We are engaged in a genuine, deadly, vicious war, and citizens of this country must rally to fight our enemies just as they did in World War I, World War II and Korea. This war needs a far more united, supportive effort than the U.S. directed at the Vietnam War, and it needs the same level of emotional support that existed throughout this country immediately following the 9-11 attacks on American soil.

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