- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Yesterday, terrorist scum killed more Americans than the Japanese did at Pearl Harbor. Sept. 11 will go down in history just like Dec. 7 did: a date when Americans were killed in cold blood in an attack that was both criminal and unjustifiable by any human measure. After we were knocked down at Pearl Harbor, we got back up, dusted ourselves off and got ready for a real fight. We have to do the same thing now. We are at war. Let there be no quibbling about it. Let there be no talk of "proportional responses" to yesterday's acts of terror that brought death and destruction to America.
These actions are taken by people who mean to destroy our way of life. You cannot negotiate or compromise with such psychopathic killers. For almost two centuries — with the exception of the Pearl Harbor attack — America's homeland, with very few exceptions, has been safe from foreign invasion or attack. We have enjoyed a sanctuary from the destruction of our homes, our places of work and worship. But that era ended when the first of two aircraft were intentionally crashed into the World Trade Center. We have to confront — and defeat — the threat of the well-organized, well-financed terrorists who now bring their wars to kill our friends, neighbors and loved ones.
That's one choice. The only other choice is to accept life of constant terror as it is in Israel or Northern Ireland. We are a free people. We deserve better. There will be much debate over how and when we should respond, and against whom we should act. The president will hear a lot over the next few days, and he should ignore about 90 percent of it. There will be appeasers who will say we should only respond "proportionally," whatever that means. There will be those who say that the likely perpetrators have not been convicted, so any military response should await a court's determination of guilt. President Bush should tell all of those people to sit down and shut up.
There will be a need for action at home and abroad. At home, we must fight against any restrictions on our personal liberties in the name of national security. As Franklin said, those who would surrender liberty for security deserve neither. But someone should be answering some pointy-type questions about how it became so easy to hijack four big airliners. Abroad, we must fight as well, and in the literal sense. Nations that sponsor or harbor terrorists are our enemies. We have to treat them accordingly. We must act against them, using whatever force is necessary to destroy the threat. We cannot wait, rubbing our knuckles until some court declares someone guilty. The courts are not an instrument of national security. If we wait, our hesitation will only invite more attacks.
When America is attacked, as it was yesterday, it must strike back in a manner that is proportional to our strength, not proportional to the size of our enemy, large or small. Mr. Bush shouldn't listen to any talk of proportional responses. We have to be ruthless. We need to do whatever it takes to make the terrorists know that no matter where they go, no matter who helps them and no matter what they think they can do to us, we will hunt them down and kill them without mercy.
It is enough that there are reliable reports that Osama bin Laden said three weeks ago that his followers would make an "unprecedented" attack. Bin Laden, guilty of sponsoring an earlier World Trade Center bombing, has been given a safe haven in Afghanistan. Lil' Billy could wag the dog and bomb all the goat-milk farms in Afghanistan, but nothing bad would — or did — happen to bin Laden. The Taleban need to know we're serious. Today, the president should send a message to the Taleban government in Afghanistan: Give us bin Laden, or we'll carpet bomb the area we think he's hiding in. And if he's not there, we'll try another place.
What's more, our intelligence agencies will have some idea of who was responsible for yesterday's attacks. We should take them on, one by one. Give them a day to turn over those responsible. If not, the next day the B-52's pay them a visit. No ifs, ands or buts.
That's a start. We will have to take on other nations and other terrorist networks. We cannot let them have a moment's peace. We should often reiterate our condemnation of terrorist killers and those who help them. There must be no safe place for them to hide, and no hesitation to attack them or those who give them shelter. As President Reagan said we should tell them: "you can run but you can't hide."

Jed Babbin is former deputy undersecretary of defense in the first Bush administration.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide