Enemy to nations deserves our just retaliations

I thought it was just an accident. After all, this wasn’t the first time a plane had crashed into a building. Such an incident occurred during World War II, when a B-25 bomber flew into the Empire State Building.

Sadly, accidents such as this seem to happen all too often, which explains the blinking lights, like terrestrial buoys, placed on the tops of the tallest buildings. So as I sat there preparing for school and watching the television, I was left shaking my head, wondering how such a giant building could not be avoided by a supposedly trained pilot.

Then the second plane collided with the second tower. Now the situation was totally different, we were involved in something big, something terrible. I will never forget Charles Gibson emotionally announcing on Good Morning America the United States had just fallen under attack. From that moment on, every television I saw was covered with the images of a burning America.

The four plane crashes and over six thousand dead or missing in the tragedy September 11 prove two things: First, despite their incredibly high mortality rate, the suicide bomber never seems to go extinct. Secondly, the United States will never be without its enemies in this world.

True, since the fall of communism we have lacked a legitimately competitive opponent, like a rival sibling or the Iowa Hawkeyes. Instead, the enemies of this nation are now the conniving, slippery maggots that fester and burrow in the shadows of the world, occasionally surfacing to sacrifice themselves in a suicidal attack that hopefully leaves the death toll in their own misguided numerical favor. They are enemies with a whole new set of beliefs, goals and morals. Suddenly after 50 years of cold war, the rules have changed.

But after Tuesday’s attacks, our list of enemies has dwindled significantly. The world as a whole fears such attacks, and they should. An enemy who acts without laws or scruples, or even a constructive purpose, is a dangerous one indeed. Suddenly, the nations of the world have rallied to one cause, a halt to terrorism. Sure, some were expected – the English, Israelis, and Canadians – each longtime American supporters.

It is the sheer monstrosity of the recent attacks that has unified so much of the world. Even the nations with whom we have never seen eye to eye have made their assistance available. Cuba has offered full use of their air space and landing areas, and Iran has closed its border with Afghanistan, proving, for the moment, terrorists are at the bottom of the totem poll in the opinion of just about everyone.

The nations of the world have united not because of a love for the United States, but because they see terrorism for what it is: the schoolyard bully of modern society, one that resorts to any means of physical violence possible in order to intimidate others. It is this disturbed mentality that makes resistance so crucial.

Anyone with a third-grade education knows you must stand up to a bully even though few ever will – whether that means handing over your lunch money or changing your nation’s policies. Such submission is never a one-time thing. If a bully can get the desired results the first time, there will be a second and third. The same logic applies to terrorists.

Such united support doesn’t mean we will parade around the world amid a jubilant rainbow of diverse flags. Pledging support is one thing and most nations are rather leery of sending their own men to war. But it does mean we might be able to probe to the four corners of the globe with a fine-tooth comb until we find what and who we are looking for. When in history has there been such a unity of purpose?

As expected, the number one suspect in this attack is Saudi native Osama bin Laden, known to be hiding in Afghanistan. Though he says he had nothing to do with the attack, a megalomaniacal child such as he cannot be ruled out. After all, he took responsibility for the bombing of the trade towers the first time, and even sadistic terrorists hate to leave a job undone.

Bin Laden’s plea is similar to so many other would-be terrorists around the globe; they all say they had no part in it – surprising, as they are normally waiting in line to take credit for other’s suffering. But there’s a reason for their plea of not guilty. They know full well this is no longer some silly police action. Who would want to label themselves a prime target of the largest American military action in more than a decade?

The capture or eradication of Osama bin Laden would go a long way into subduing terrorist activity. Some in the media have said the removal of bin Laden would not stop terrorism and might only breed it. That is true to an extent: Lop off the head of the monster and he’ll still be around for the sequel. But taking control of Osama bin Laden is critical to retarding the terrorist network.

It is foolish to believe an individual with his hatred, wealth, connections and manipulative ability is easily replaced. Was Adolf Hitler ever replaced? Joseph Stalin? Thankfully, no. On the other end of the spectrum, has a new Martin Luther King Jr. ever emerged, or a Mother Teresa? We as a society know it is difficult to replace the great good that has inhabited our earth – hopefully, it is just as difficult to replace great evil.

It remains to be seen what extent this terrorist makeup exists in and around Afghanistan. For now, opinion is strong and the nation must run with this and do what must be done. We must ensure such tragedies never, ever happen again. We are not the great Satan ascended from the depths of hell that Osama bin Laden believes we are, but we are more than capable of sending him there.


Chris Schafer’s column appears alternate Tuesdays. He welcomes comments at [email protected]. Send letters to the editor to [email protected]