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Jewish World Review Sept. 14, 2001 / 25 Elul, 5761

Debra J. Saunders

Debra J. Saunders
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You gotta love this country -- THE American people have taken this hate-filled body blow -- the evil slaughter of thousands of innocent people -- and have sprung back with both resolve and grace.

Yes, Americans want payback. Yes, people want to snuff the low-lifes who masterminded the attacks. Yes, Americans want to punish those who bankrolled the terror. Yes, they want to strike back, but they don't want to harm the innocent if it can be avoided. Contrast that to the ululating Palestinians who gloried in the murder of children.

In the heat of anger, it would be natural for the public to be clamoring for quick retaliation. Instead, Americans want a solid response, one that does not repeat America's foreign policy mistakes with the Middle East and terrorism. The Bush administration promised a sustained response. Amen, brothers and sisters.

This time, the American people don't want to leave the job half done. Our victory in "Desert Storm" proved hollow. Americans learned that we could win the war only to find that the battle remains. Saddam Hussein's happy postwar tenure argues that when the United States goes after the terrorists who committed these atrocities, we had better cut off the head.

President Clinton's 1998 order to bomb "terrorist-related facilities" in Afghanistan and Sudan in retaliation for terrorist attacks on U.S. embassies resulted in bombs destroying a Khartoum pharmaceutical factory. It didn't help that people everywhere wondered if Clinton ordered the bombing to distract attention from embarrassing revelations about his relations with Monica Lewinsky. Add that Clinton's actions showed the fecklessness of firepower without follow-up. That goes double when all the firepower comes from the sky.

As angry as Americans are, they don't want to bomb another drug factory. A CNN/Gallup poll found that a modest 21 percent wanted "immediate strikes" against "known terrorist organizations," while 71 percent wanted strikes only against those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, even if it took months to clearly identify the guilty parties.

The support America has received from across the globe should wake up self-styled "international community" elites who cluck about how isolated America is. NATO's quick vote declaring the attacks on America are an attack against all NATO nations proves that the United States and Western leaders are working together. To aid us, Canada quickly welcomed diverted flights Tuesday. The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera announced, "We are all Americans." Mille grazie, amici.

Yes, the United States disagrees with the European Kyoto clique and wisely sat out the U.N. Conference on Racism. What's important is that when lives are at stake, our friends are here for us, just as we would be there for them.

There have been reports of scattered vandalism and threats against Arabs and mosques across the United States. Shame, shame. Those crude acts detract from the general sense of goodwill you find everywhere else. Think of those Palestinians who openly celebrated the death of American children and civilians and contrast their foul dance with the pleas heard so frequently in the United States that the terrorist attacks not lead to ethnic repercussions for law-abiding immigrants.

It wasn't the intent, but attacks designed to lay this country low only have served to remind citizens how great America is. Our detractors spew hate, we respond with concern that we don't hate as they do. Our enemies worship suicide bombers. Our heroes are firemen and rescue workers, blood donors and the brave Flight 93 passengers who determined to bring down their plane rather than let terrorists drop it on their countrymen.

These attacks have made America stronger. That's the power of freedom and democracy.

Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.


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© 2000, Creators Syndicate