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The "War on Terror"
Post-9/11 reflections

Written: Oct. 2, 2001

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Call it a crime against humanity, call it what you will; the reality is our country is at war. Don't listen to simplistic explanations of Osama bin Laden's "real" motivations: It's a mixture of religion, nationalism, material envy, and sheer hatred for our free way of life. Our enemy is not Islam (at least not yet), and it is not "terror;" it is a fanatical, charismatic movement with global ambitions, not unlike Naziism. Thus, it would be foolish to wring our hands over whether past U.S. interventions in the Mideast might have led to this. So far, President Bush has responded with the correct balance of firm resolve and delicacy. As he said, the course of the long struggle ahead is very uncertain, and there will be no clear-cut moment of "victory." Whether it escalates into World War III or an apocalyptic "clash of civilizations" depends as much on what fence-sitting countries like Saudi Arabia and China do as what we do. We will never eradicate all terrorism or "rid the world of evil," but we can at least make sure that no country contemplates harboring mass murderers. To that end, we must keep in mind that this is above all a contest of human willpower: We are all on the frontlines against the forces of evil and barbarism. Since civilization itself is under threat, we should not rule out any means at our disposal.