WWT: World War On Terrorism
Posted September 4, 2002 12:40 p.m. EDT
PINEHURST — Our nation is at war and has been since Sept. 11, 2001. We are responding to cowardly attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., and another unknown target that was prevented from attack by some very heroic passengers over rural Pennsylvania.
Our government assures us they possess irrefutable evidence that these barbaric attacks by 19 terrorists, supported by countless others, were carried out by Saudi Arabian exile Osama bin Laden, his Al Queda network and the Taliban leadership in the Afghanistan government. But the international threat of terrorism goes well beyond the Afghanistan borders, and I am confident that other nations harboring terrorists groups who threaten the international community will be sought out in due course.
For several years now, concerned individuals within our government, in think tanks, in our military establishment and others have been warning of terrorism and the threats posed by "asymmetrical" warfare.
Asymmetrical warfare simply stated is the process of attacking nations possessing strong military forces with more simple means and in a manner not expected, i.e. terror attacks such as suicide bombings and anthrax scares. Historically, we have not, as a nation, placed the threats of terrorist attacks on a sufficiently high priority.
There is something different now. It is not our own officials alerting us to the threat of terrorism, it is rather the "bin Ladens" of the world, who on Sept. 11, have brought realism to the threats. And as the saying goes, "they have aroused a sleeping tiger." American and coalition forces will respond. They have responded. They will continue with an unrelenting attack on Al Queda and the Taliban until they are no longer capable of exporting terrorism to America or any other nation in the world.
Sept. 11, 2001 will long stand as a defining moment in our nation's history. Our people -- innocent people -- were attacked. Buildings were destroyed. Our freedom to move about peacefully, without fear, was attacked. Our already struggling economy was attacked. America, as we knew it, changed in a few hours on that dreadful morning. With all of this, the terrorists won a significant battle. They will not win the war!
We must all realize this war will not be a quick and easy, casualty free war as we have become accustomed to in the past decade or so. It will take years. It will be expensive. It will cost us the lives of service men and women. It is quite likely that more civilians at home will be the victims of terrorists. But freedom does have a price. I sense that America stands ready to accept these burdens.
In the first few days and weeks of this struggle against terrorism, there have been some historical precedents established. For the first time in the 52 years of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Article 5 of the organization's charter was invoked. That article states that an attack on any one of the 19 NATO nations is an attack on all. In diplomatic and military circles this declaration was viewed as overwhelming support of the American response to terrorism.
NATO support to date has manifested itself in several ways. Great Britain joined U.S. forces on the initial attacks on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. NATO Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) aircraft with aircrew and support personnel from several NATO nations have come to America to assist with our combat air patrol over major cities and events. Not since the Revolutionary War have the forces of other nations' arrived on our shores to assist us in a war on a common enemy. Other NATO nations are providing military, intelligence, and logistical support to include over-fly and base landing privileges.
It is especially gratifying to see Turkey, with a predominantly Muslim population, standing solidly behind America's response to Sept. 11, 2001. This support is especially relevant because it verifies to others that this is not a "religious" war. It is a war against terrorism worldwide.
Other Muslim nations have been equally supportive while at the same time recognizing the sensitivities within their own borders. Muslim and non-Muslim nations alike have joined in a worldwide coalition to defeat terrorists wherever they may be.
From a military standpoint I believe the objective is clear. The initial goal is to get bin Laden, dead or alive; to destroy the Al Queda terrorist network and to eliminate the hard-line Taliban leadership which has provided a sanctuary to bin Laden, et al, to carry out acts of international terrorism.
The strategy is equally clear. We will use ALL weapons and resources available to us to achieve our goals. And there are significant resources as we have already seen in the initial stages of the air war and early-on commando-style raids.
The tactics will vary from day to day as the scenario changes. Some military actions will be carried out in an overt manner and will be discussed by defense officials after the operations have concluded. Other military actions will be covert and we may not learn of them for years. It may be many years before the history of such actions become unclassified.
This is a time, not unlike WWII, when American citizens simply must trust their elected officials and their military forces to pursue the international terrorists without having the media broadcast, in advance, the specific strategy, tactics and ongoing operations to the world. Sometimes to insure our overarching freedoms we must restrict some of our lesser freedoms.
Our homeland has been attacked. Our freedoms are in jeopardy. Our American way of life has been challenged. Our institutions are at risk. Everything which America, and other peaceful freedom loving nations around the world, holds dear is at stake. This is not a trivial excursion on the world scene.
President Bush has told us that the cause is just -- that terrorism cannot prevail, and that we will win. President Bush is right. And we, as Americans, will have to make sacrifices for future generations, just as others have made sacrifices for us in years past. We must be vigilant as we go about our daily lives. We must support our uniformed men and women whom we are placing in harm's way.
Quite importantly, we must continue to be Americans. We must continue to enjoy our freedoms, attend to our businesses and employment, recreate, raise our children with a sense of security, worship as we please, be tolerant of others, and have the patience to see this World War on Terrorism through to a successful conclusion.