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Our View- U.S. force necessary, justified

Ten days later, the shock and horror of Sept. 11 has not faded. The flags still fly at half-staff. The nation mourns, even as plans progress to punish the perpetrators of evil.

On the home front, we are heartened by images of solidarity. Tahoe firefighters raised more than $150,000 in just three days. Businesses, schools and individuals continue to shower prayers and support on those a continent apart.

Yet the miles that separate us are irrelevant. We are one nation, brought together by a day of unspeakable terror. The flags that fly around the South Shore – at homes and churches, on cars and fire trucks, at shopping centers and schools – represent American ideals of liberty and justice for which blood was first spilled more than 200 years ago.



Today, our liberty is threatened by a cunning, pervasive enemy that enjoys broad popular and financial support. Some worry aloud that we should tread lightly, or pull back U.S. support for Israel, to avoid further inflaming the Middle East.

Yet we recall a TV interview with a former Israeli official, who was asked if retaliating against the terrorists might fuel anti-American sentiment. His reply: How could it get worse?




We realize, belatedly, that it can’t get worse. Whether we knew it before Sept. 11 or not, we know now we are under attack, that our national security is at risk. And as we rise to defend our homeland, we must accept the harsh reality that innocent people will suffer, even die, just as they have in all the wars before this one.

International support may wane over time as it did in the months and years after the Persian Gulf War. Already, Pakistan’s pledged support of the United States is leading protesters to burn American flags and effigies of President Bush. Expect to see more protests along with smug claims that the bully America has finally gotten what it deserved.

It would be wrong to dismiss those claims outright. The United States can rightly be criticized for often acting in isolation, for choosing self-interest over global consensus, and for supporting strategic military partners who trample democratic rights and human dignity.

Having said that, no civilized human being can condone the attacks that unfolded before our eyes last week. It should come as no surprise, to any person or to any nation, that we will respond with force.

Already, both here and abroad, there are those who call for peace. They call on the United States to not lay waste to the nations that sponsor terrorism or harbor those who practice it. They implore us to act with reason, not revenge.

We understand the desire to avoid further bloodshed, but that stance as politically and morally suspect. To do nothing would be to sanction the slaughter of innocents and encourage further aggression against Americans.

The headline we ran after the attack read simply: “Acts of War.” Those words were not chosen lightly, nor were they an editorial comment. They reflected the sober truth.

This is our editorial comment:

We support President Bush and the Congress in calling for all necessary force to be used to punish the attackers, and any government that supported them.

The “sleeping giant,” which stirred to life 60 years ago after the attack on Pearl Harbor, has once again been roused from slumber. We survived the carnage of World War II and became the world’s foremost superpower. Today, we are the world’s only superpower, stunned and grief-stricken but hardly subdued.

This nation will endure, and so must its new war until the forces of terrorism are dismantled. It is time to embrace our allies and punish our enemies, until they cry in vain for the mercy so cruelly denied their victims.


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