Alexander's Column

America's new war

Mark Alexander · Sep. 14, 2001

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

President George Bush has proclaimed this day – September 14th, 2001 – a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the Victims of Tuesday’s attack on our countrymen:

“Scripture says: ‘Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.’ I call on every American family and the family of America to observe a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, honoring the memory of the thousands of victims of these brutal attacks and comforting those who lost loved ones. We will persevere through this national tragedy and personal loss. In time, we will find healing and recovery; and, in the face of all this evil, we remain strong and united, ‘one Nation under God.’

"NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Friday, September 14, 2001, as a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the Victims of the Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001. I ask that the people of the United States and places of worship mark this National Day of Prayer and Remembrance with noontime memorial services, the ringing of bells at that hour, and evening candlelight remembrance vigils. …

"IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirteenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-sixth.”

GEORGE W. BUSH

Realization of our nation’s new war footing is settling in, just as the dust is settling over thousands of our countrymen under the rubble of the World Trade Center.

President George W. Bush and his capable team of national security advisors were weighing strike options to repay the terrorist murderers in kind tenfold – once adequately identified – as Congress moved first to allay concerns of victims and their families, then planned a vote in the next 24 hours to grant the President congressional authorization for the use of force against the perpetrators of this “act of war.” In a vote later today, the House is expected to approve $40 billion to combat terrorism and assist in recovery efforts in the latest attack, twice the amount Mr. Bush had asked.

In a few days, the central government will implement one of two military response models.

We could see a replay of the Clinton/Gore model: Rattle sabers! Bomb a few “terrorist camps” (AKA goat herder tents) with film at eleven (preferably on the day of a presidential impeachment vote). Bow to the UN. Implement useless diplomatic sanctions and negotiate for an arrest and future trial for “crimes” committed – should suspects ever be apprehended.

Or, our preference – the Reagan/Bush model: Issue an ultimatum and if not met, bomb the perpetrators and their state suppliers into the next galaxy.

There is much talk about increased security measures – few of which will actually mitigate the ability of terrorists to act with impunity. Civil libertarians argue that the current crisis should not be used to further erode our individual liberty and freedom. Indeed, increased physical “security measures” will not stop terrorism. We already have all manner of domestic security measures, and yet four commercial aircraft were hijacked in one hour Tuesday morning. Moving parking lots further from terminals and adding minimum wage “security guards” will not stop this kind of terror. These zealots did not parachute out of those planes before they crashed. They flew them into their targets. A free republic cannot protect itself from this type of terror by adding security layers at airports.

Increasing airport security will do nothing to prevent a well-planned aerosol dispensing of anthrax spores at a Super Bowl game – or any of the other nuclear, biological or chemical threats. We must strike the nations that harbor these terrorists and strike them hard.

Let us reiterate: The first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 was a wake-up call, one which we failed to heed sufficiently. On Tuesday, terrorism reached U.S. soil with a vengeance heretofore unknown. Our most serious problem right now is that the gaping holes in our intelligence and military capacity to detect and thwart attacks have been exposed – and the usual suspects are, as usual, not circumspect! We must give their host nations “incentives” to fill the gaping holes in our intelligence profiles on terrorist cell activities – and we are not talking about foreign aid.

Mr. Bush and Congress have this power, fired with the will of the American people behind them at this historic moment – motivated by the horror we all witnessed Tuesday. But the “Bush administration” remains stacked with Clintonistas while senior Bush nominations are being held hostage in the Senate. The cognizant departments of government upon which Mr. Bush is dependent for a uniform response – particularly the State Department – are suffering bureaucratic paralysis due to competing worldviews at their policy-making levels.

Adding to the diplomatic paralysis, Leftists in Congress, while being cautious to look bipartisan by circumnavigating their anti-American rhetoric, are busy seeding dissension. For example, masquerading under the “reap what you sow” theory, complaints are emerging that because Osama bin Laden was once linked to an organization supported by the CIA during the Afghan war with the Soviets, somehow one should conclude that the CIA is culpable for Tuesday’s attacks and we “brought it on ourselves.” (Expect to hear that mantra repeated more boldly in the coming weeks.)

Indeed, bin Laden was, in a roundabout way, supported by the CIA in the 1980’s. Heir to a large fortune, the Saudi went to Afghanistan as a mercenary to fight the Soviets in 1979. In 1984, he was commanding the Maktab al-Khidamar (the MAK), which served as a conduit to funnel money, arms and fighters to the Afghan resistance. To suggest bin Laden is a better terrorist for having served as an Afghan freedom fighter may be true. That notwithstanding, to suggest he is a better terrorist because the CIA once supported Afghan freedom fighters is pure nescience. What is unfortunate is that we did not do a better job of retaining bin Laden on our payroll! There is always a risk that a recruit will blowback – reverse his or her allegiance – but that is not to suggest that the CIA is somehow culpable for that reversal – much less the terror he has been raining on U.S. interests in the last decade.

As you may recall, we also supported Iraq in their war against Iran. There were sound reasons in our national interests for this support, but this prior relationship could hardly be blamed for Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait – leading to the Gulf War. If we made a mistake, it was that we did not kill Saddam and bin Laden when we were through with them.

Ah, but on that last point, as we noted in June, Friend of The Federalist Rep. Bob Barr has proposed legislation – the “Terrorist Elimination Act of 2001” – which kinda sounds to us like it might fit Osama really well.

To wit, the legislation states: “Congress finds that – past Presidents have issued Executive orders which severely limit the use of the military when dealing with potential threats against the United States of America; these Executive orders limit the swift, sure, and precise action needed by the United States to protect our national security; present strategy allows the military forces to bomb large targets hoping to eliminate a terrorist leader, but prevents our country from designing a limited action which would specifically accomplish that purpose; on several occasions the military has been ordered to use a military strike hoping, in most cases unsuccessfully, to remove a terrorist leader who has committed crimes against the United States; as the threat from terrorism grows, America must continue to investigate effective ways to combat the menace posed by those who would murder American citizens simply to make a political point; and actions by the United States Government to remove such persons is a remedy which should be used sparingly and considered only after all other reasonable options have failed or are not available; however, this is an option our country must maintain for cases in which international threats cannot be eliminated by other means.”

“The grief and mourning all of us are feeling today must be balanced by our resolve to identify and take action against those responsible for these despicable and cowardly acts,” said Rep. Barr. “I call on Congress and the president to immediately pass and sign into law the Terrorist Elimination Act.”

So does The Federalist! There is a $5 million reward offered “for information leading directly to the apprehension or conviction of Osama Bin Laden.” Pass Mr. Barr’s legislation and expand the terms of that reward to include, “Dead or Alive.”

The reliable constitutionalist Rep. Barr will today introduce draft legislation for a congressional declaration of war: “Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, (that) pursuant to Article 1, section 8 of the United States Constitution, the Congress hereby declares that a state of war exists.”

The declaration authorizes the use of “the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the United States Government to carry on war” against “any entity that committed the acts of international terrorism against the United States on September 11, 2001, or commits acts of international terrorism against the United States thereafter” and “any country or entity that has provided or provides support or protection for any entity.”

“This resolution is a firm and deliberate statement by the Congress that we fully support the President of the United States in any efforts he might take against those terrorist organizations, as well as those who sponsor them, who have attacked our nation,” Barr said. “We will not bring these terrorists to justice, we will bring them to their knees, and in doing so, ensure that they never again have the will or the ability to attack our nation.”

Apparently, Mr. Barr and his cosponsors are also advocates of the Reagan/Bush model for responding to attacks on our countrymen!