On Saturday, my wife and I attended a funeral service for one of her co-workers, a woman I had never met. As I looked around the room, I saw the devastation of her family, her friends, and her co-workers. Mourners spoke of the lives she touched and changed forever. The husband she left behind wept, and I wondered if he could ever recover.
My sadness and my anger deepened with every moment we were there. I wept with everyone else, for a woman I had never met.
On Wednesday, I was afraid that our government would respond with a symbolic gesture, a token bombing of aspirin factories and empty training camps. But I am relived to hear that our leaders are as angry as they should be. They realize that we are at war - and that we have been at war since 1993 or earlier, even if we never realized it. Our enemies have been warring against us with every bomb they detonate within our borders, and every battleship they bomb in port or elsewhere. Only now that the devastation has been so horrific have we chosen to act as if we are at war.
What lies ahead cannot be regarded as a "response." It will not be justice, nor will it be revenge. It will be, and must be, a resolve to eliminate those who have the will and the ability to strike us like happened on September 11, 2001. As Henry Kissinger said this week, we must destroy the system used to wage war against us. As Colin Powell said, we must tear them out branch and root. Whether it was Osama bin Laden, Iraq, or some other group does not matter. We must adopt the policy of the ancient Romans who sought to end the Punic Wars against Carthage. They knew that to protect their citizens, Carthage had to be destroyed- Cartago delenda est. The Romans invaded Carthage, tore the city down, and sowed its fields with salt, so that their enemy could never rise up again to strike them. America faces the same task today.
Our actions should come not from anger, but from coolly rational resolve to never again be victims. We should seek not justice, but the elimination of threats against us. Finally, our nation appears prepared to carry this out.
BtS, bin Laden and his proponents have been calling it war for many years. I'm perfectly willing to take their word for it.