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September 11 Was Mass Murder, Not An Act Of War

839 words - 4 pages

As we reflect upon the terrifying events of 11 September 2001, we are haunted by analogies from our past. But historical analogies require careful examination, for choosing among them influences the way we will think, speak, and act.

Commentators have compared the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon to Pearl Harbor, because both attacks came without warning. With Pearl Harbor as the primary analog, the attacks on New York and Washington were quickly termed "acts of war." That is understandable, but dangerously imprecise. It cloaks massive illegality under the guise of rules of engagement -- the very thing that terrorists deny by their outrageous transformation of civil ...view middle of the document...


This is not the time to launch smart or dumb bombs in a war that cannot be won from the skies. The objective of locating a suspect is a just one. The killing of innocent men, women and children who live in their neighborhoods is not. It will not avenge our painful loss. It will recruit new members for the terrorists. This is not even the time to launch an invasion of infantry divisions in a war that the Russians can assure us will not go well for us, and will only rally impoverished Afghanis around leaders under whom they chafe.


It is time to call off the war metaphor. We are dealing not with acts of war committed by a nation state, but with massive criminality that calls for an extraordinary effort to identify and locate the perpetrators, and to bring them to justice. Not infinite justice, but human justice - the only kind we are capable of - condign, focused, measured, and appropriate.


This is the time - as with any organized criminal activity - to follow the money and freeze the assets of known criminals. This is the time for making it much more difficult for thugs to hijack civil aircraft. This is the time to forge a new level of international cooperation in the investigation of this crime, including the expansion of our links to countries toward whom we have not "tilted" in the past, Pakistan and India among them.


All of these things can be done without the rhetoric or actions of war. To follow the rule of law under these most painful...

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