As time goes by and we count the dark days from the WTC-Pentagon-Pennsylvania massacre, concerned voices are raised throughout the world at the realization that people die in war, calling for moderation in the U.S. response.
The United States must act and respond with violence. This is the cold, harsh truth. America has been put in a situation where, paradoxically, war is the only morally correct response. (Before you downvote, read why! I am not a hawk.)
What happened at the World Trade Center in New York, in Pentagon, and on the plane whose brave passengers sacrificed their own lives to save so many lives on the ground, was not only the worst act of terrorism anywhere in the world in the history of mankind, it was a blatant attack on the free world misdirected so as to affect innocent civilians.
Two years ago, roughly at this time of year, I was standing in the observatory of the World Trade Center, looking out over one of the most fascinating cities I've ever seen. I am well aware that this attack could just as well have killed me, and I have taken it all very personally, not just because of that, but because the attacks are rooted in disrespect for the things I value: freedom of (and from) religion, freedom of speech, justice, and gender equality.
These individuals belong to a cult of misguided so-called Muslims, who have severely misunderstood their holy book and use it to promote a culture of oppression and destruction. Unfortunately, this system of belief has grown powerful in Afghanistan and nearby countries, and created a dictatorship of terror, oppressing the countries' citizens. Not satisfied with this, these delusional leaders look abroad to destroy those who dare think differently.
While it is true that no organization or country has been ultimately proven to have conducted this act of war (for it is an act of war, no matter how undeclared it is; declared wars belong to medieval times as any informed person knows), Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization is the prime suspect in the recent deeds as well as confirmed and self-proclaimed mastermind and/or financial supporter behind at least five earlier attacks on U.S. targets. He has yet to admit to the WTC-Pentagon-Pennsylvania wave of terror (perhaps the result was a little too "good"), but encourages further crimes of its kind.
The oppressive and anti-democratic Taleban regime in Afghanistan has yet to present Bin Laden to the United States, despite claims of keeping the terrorist leader under house arrest (whether or not this is true is hard to say; at any rate, the female population of Afghanistan knows this way of life all too well). In this, they are contributing to continued acts of war and terror against the free world, and this is no different from participating directly in a military operation against foreign countries and their civilians. This does give the United States the right to respond with military force. Lest more innocent civilians be killed, it is also their moral duty to do so. Just as the citizens of the United States pay taxes to receive police protection, they fund the military for military protection.
Military operations demand civilian lives. This is inevitable. However, the United States should not, would not, and will not, unlike its opponent, select civilians as their primary target. The civilian toll will be high in a full-scale operation, but it will be much, much higher if terrorists are free to roam the earth, and the civilians of Afghanistan would most likely be grateful if the western world can rid the country of the Taleban regime and provide an opportunity for democracy.
Military operations demand the lives of soldiers. This is also inevitable. However, anyone signing up to join the military is aware of this. If they are not prepared to risk their life for their country, they should not be in the army in the first place. Unlike the uncivilized country I live in (Sweden), America gives its citizens the right to choose whether or not to serve its country (personally I am disqualified from the Swedish Armed Forces with respect to poor eyesight without glasses or contacts). Worrying about the lives of U.S. soldiers is ridiculous, and I am sure the honorable soldiers themselves would feel quite embarrassed at some of the statements that have been made the last few days. What one should really be worried about are the civilians who have not opted to risk their lives to foreign military, in whatever shape it may come.
So what should the United States do? It should firmly demand that Bin Laden and anyone associated with him be turned over immediately and unconditionally in an act of unreserved co-operation to pull terrorism by the roots out of this world. If the Taleban regime is unable to present Bin Laden, the United States should demand the right to send whatever units it deems appropriate into Afghanistan on a search and retrieve mission. Any resistance to this is in itself co-operation with terrorism, and any individuals standing up behind such resistance must be eliminated, by force if necessary, and ideally by detainment.
The objective is not revenge. Revenge will not bring back the dead. Two wrongs do not make one right (we're adding, not multiplying). The objective is to prevent further acts of terror. The objective is to detain the terrorists to protect the free world. Punishment is an outdated way of thinking. There is no adequate way to punish these individuals anyway, and the only justice we can get is the justice of peace of mind. Skillfully planned operations with well-chosen objectives are the United States' best ticket to support from the rest of the world, and the best way to prevent nukes and other unwelcome objects from swarming in the air.
The rage that the U.S. as a nation is feeling is understandable and easy to sympathize with, but it is also dangerous. If I may, I would urge Americans to be proud of their brave workers and their brave military, to have faith in their institutions and agencies, and in their president, who is so far handling this crisis in a rather competent way (normally I am personally strongly opposed to most things Dubya, but I am making an exception here). However, most importantly: be proud of the constructive forces that exist within the American nationalism and guard against the destructive ones. Rage leads to a path away from rationalism, and irrationality has a bad record when it comes to solving problems.
One example of irrationality is the many attacks on Muslims and people with an Arabic appearance in America and many other countries. These people have left their homeland. They have traveled across half the globe to a different country, abandoning everything to escape the reign of terror in their own countries. They have gone through the process of becoming American citizens. If anyone is an American, they are, for they have actively chosen to become Americans.
Imagine their horror in days like these. Not only has the very terror they escape from come after them halfway around the world (many, many Muslims were killed in the attack on the World Trade Center), but they get the blame for it from ignorant idiots with more hair than brains. (And then ignorant Muslims think that the general public shares the views of the brainless racists, and so on.)
We must be rational, constructive, have a long-term perspective, and we must work together.
For closing words, I would urge everyone to continue to honor the victims of the attacks at a place of worship where they feel comfortable, and for those who, like me, find worship of a divine power impossible in days like these, go out in nature and lend your thoughts to their memory. In Sweden today, a violent crash between a timber truck and a school bus killed several children. The tragedy of their families is hard; send them your thoughts too, please. Let us pray and/or hope for better months to come. Thank you.
Don't get me wrong, I still don't daylog.
It's okay, I can lose some XP. I don't mind. Really.
And in related news, analphabetism is on the rise.
BtS says: LX: In the war against nazi germany the allies destroyed whole cities, most noteable Dresden, without making any difference whom they kill, not to mention Hiroshima or Nagasaki...
Your point? What I am advocating is that difference be made. Did I advocate nukes? No, I warned against it. This is not World War II. Hopefully we've developed just a little since then.