Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Sept. 12, 2001 / 23 Elul, 5761

Robert W. Tracinski

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

It is worse than Pearl Harbor -- OUR enemies have attacked, not a military base far out in the Pacific, but the very center of our civilization: our nation's political capital in Washington and its commercial capital in New York City. The scope of these attacks is not yet clear, but it is estimated that tens of thousands of Americans -- most of them civilians -- have been murdered.

This is not the act of a few isolated terrorists. An attack of this size and scope, an attack carefully timed and coordinated across the country, is the product of a large organization that can only operate with the support and protection of a foreign government. This is not a mere criminal act. It is an act of war.

These terrorists have not awakened a sleeping giant. They have attacked a complacent giant, a giant who refused to see, until it was too late, the disastrous consequences of his policies of restraint and appeasement.

Americans were seduced by those who advocated a "measured" response and pinprick strikes against terrorists and the countries that support them. We allowed our judgment to be blunted by those who tell us that it is wrong ever to pronounce moral judgment, by those who say that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. We cringed before unfavorable "world opinion" as if that were the worst thing we had to fear.

When terrorists bombed the World Trade Center the first time, we rounded up a few of the conspirators and put them on trial -- while we left the terrorist leaders and their sponsors untouched. When they bombed our embassies in Africa, killing hundreds, we sent off a few Tomahawk missiles, scaling back our attack to avoid any civilian casualties. When they bombed the USS Cole -- less than a year ago -- we did nothing. And for the past year, as Israel has been under relentless assault by Palestinian terrorists, we urged restraint and demanded that they negotiate with the leader who unleashed those attacks.

Terrorists have been at war with the United States for years, and we have sent them a clear, consistent message: We will not fight back. Through our actions, we have assured the terrorists, and the governments that sponsor them, that they will escape retribution. That message was received and acted upon. That message must now be decisively reversed.

Everyone is saying that the response to these attacks must be swift and severe, but no one has been specific. Here is what we must do: We must recognize that, since 8:50 AM on the morning of September 11, a state of war has existed between the United States and the countries who sponsor, support and harbor terrorists. We already know who these countries are: they include Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan and Libya.

I must stress that all of these nations are responsible for this act of war. It does not matter which one of them had a direct role in today's attacks. The fact is that they supported the terrorists who have launched previous attacks, who have promised to attack the U.S. repeatedly -- and who may do so again tomorrow. In 1941, when the United States was attacked by Japan, it declared war on all of the Axis powers, recognizing that they were all accomplices in the same threat. In the same way, we should now declare war on every country that has supported and harbored anti-American terrorists.

There has been a great deal of talk in the past few years about the heroism of the men who fought World War II. Theirs, we have been reminded, was a battle for freedom against tyranny, and on it depended the fate of the world. Today, we face a battle of civilization against barbarism, and as we have just seen, it is a battle on which our very survival depends. As Franklin Roosevelt declared to Congress 60 years ago, we must ensure that "we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us."

Pearl Harbor has just happened, again. Let us make very certain that we rise to this challenge as we rose to that one.

Comment on JWR contributor Robert W. Tracinski's column by clicking here.

09/11/01: Out of the fire and back into the frying pan
09/05/01: The UN Conference of Racists
08/28/01: Waging war on profits and lives
08/20/01: The Bizarro-World War
08/08/01: The death toll of environmentalism
07/31/01: Where does America stand?
07/25/01: Barbarians at the G8
07/17/01: The carrot and the carrot
07/11/01: The real Brave New World
07/03/01: The child-manipulators
06/19/01: The scientist trap
06/11/01: The National Academy of Dubious Science