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The war at home
(Published September 24, 2001)

Washingtonians, like most other Americans, are ill-prepared for world war.

But our leaders are now committing us to protracted combat against terrorism and nations that lend support to terrorists.

There may be no turning back.

Many peace-loving U.S. citizens believe there is a better way to use our nation’s economic dominance and military might to flush out and bring to justice the perpetrators of the diabolical and deadly assaults on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

However, now that our leaders are marching us into battle, we must act to preserve our freedom and our lives.

We need to remember what it means to be American citizens. We must regain the eternal vigilance that many arrogantly tossed aside in a heady sense of false security.

Americans must realize that without a clear understanding of how much is at stake when a war touches our homeland, we could lose the war.

That possibility may be even more horrendous to contemplate than the tremendous loss of innocent lives and the economic turmoil that resulted when terrorists hijacked four jumbo jets and slammed three of them into two of the veritable power centers of our nation.

As a nation, we will never be the same. Senseless mass destruction and death – from which most of us foolishly assumed we were immune – rained upon us.

Now, like Superman, President Bush wants to stamp out all evildoers.

America will never destroy all the evil in this world. The forces of good and evil, right and wrong, will always pull at one another. Destroying evil would require destroying the world.

The United States does have an obligation, though, to destroy the weapons of mass destruction and the terrorism it helped unleash over the years on the rest of the world through foreign military aid. Our leaders’ mistakes came home to roost on Sept. 11 when masterful terrorists used U.S. airlines’ planes, built by American workers, to strike back.

Like an alcoholic in denial, we as a nation must now recognize that our culpability in supporting worldwide terrorism never seemed to bother us quite so much when it happened within someone else’s borders.

Billions of hard-earned tax dollars of American citizens were spent to equip the Afghan fighters and their allies, including Osama bin Laden, who now see Americans – irrationally but devotedly – as their mortal enemy. Billions of hard-earned U.S. tax dollars are still being spent every year to prop up, arm or otherwise protect or strengthen regimes that oppress and persecute their minorities, in Israel, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East. U.S. money and misguided policies have helped create a climate of hatred toward Americans.

This is no excuse for mass murder. But it must be acknowledged.

Meanwhile, most of the people of Afghanistan (the presumed target of a U.S. attack) are illiterate, poor, starving and ignorant of the details of current global events. They are the victims of war already.

Our leaders are right when they say Americans must unite against terrorism.

But citizens cannot be complacent or distracted. We've been misled in the past. Now, especially, when some leaders would sacrifice our liberties for the sake of war, Americans must maintain vigilance as active citizens and voters.

If we fail, the mistakes we have allowed our leaders to make eventually might destroy us all.


Copyright © 2001 The Common Denominator