A concentrated, direct response is the right response to terrorist attacks

Ryan Young

War does not create anything, it only destroys. The destruction of the World Trade Center, part of the Pentagon, and over six thousand lives was an act of war. It is now up to us to bring the perpetrators to justice and prevent them doing any more to destroy us and our way of life. Unfortunately, President Bush and his advisors are all too eager to declare war on a vaguely defined word, “terrorism,” instead of only the people responsible. Our policy should tend towards preventing future tragedies rather than wasting our resources and, in some cases, our lives on eradicating the hydra’s head that is terrorism.
One of the most basic steps in preventing disasters like the one on Sept. 11 is asking why it happened. What could possibly make people like bin Laden and groups like al Qaeda hate America enough to be willing to die destroying us? I would argue that it is the cause of bad foreign policy. From allying ourselves with Middle Eastern despots during the Cold War to debacles like Vietnam and Kosovo, America has shown a hubris unlike any other nation on Earth. In this case, the fact that we backed and funded anti-Soviet despots that oppressed some of today’s terrorist groups caused those groups to identify America with their oppressors, hence their intense dislike of all things American. Combine that with our meddling with the affairs of Israel and Palestine and many radicals are convinced of an anti-Islam conspiracy. If we had not started to view ourselves as the “world’s policeman” we would have a much shorter list of enemies, not to mention casualties. I believe a change in our foreign policy is just as necessary as increased security is to preventing another disaster.
America’s response to the World Trade Center attack should also be geared towards prevention. Such a response would eliminate all responsible parties, as well as those who shelter them, but leave all others alone. A war on a vaguely defined concept instead of actual people would only create more enemies then it would destroy, increasing the risk of future attacks. After all, groups like the IRA and Spain’s Basque separatists could also be considered terrorists, yet they pose no threat to America. Declaring war on them would be pointless and contrary to common sense. All it would do is earn us their wrath, which is precisely what we seek to prevent. That is precisely what has already happened with many groups in the Middle East, and now we must deal with it.
Loss of life should always be kept to a minimum. The least bloodshed would result by swiftly bringing the guilty parties to justice and leaving all else alone. Our policymakers would do well to have the word “prevention” in mind at this crucial time.