Magazine article USA TODAY

Proposed: A More-Effective and Just Response to Terrorism: "By Enlarging International Cooperation, Especially in the Islamic World, and Utilizing and Upholding the Principles of Law, We Can Increase the Chances That the Horrors of Sept. 11 Will Never Be Repeated." (American Thought)

Magazine article USA TODAY

Proposed: A More-Effective and Just Response to Terrorism: "By Enlarging International Cooperation, Especially in the Islamic World, and Utilizing and Upholding the Principles of Law, We Can Increase the Chances That the Horrors of Sept. 11 Will Never Be Repeated." (American Thought)

Article excerpt

AS WE WAGE WAR against international terrorism and the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 atrocities, we must seek to understand the nature of the enemy we face and devise effective strategies for defeating that adversary. If we are wise and determined in our response, we can rum the terrible tragedy we have experienced into an opportunity to build a powerful international coalition to drive terrorist networks out of business and create a more-just international order.

The goal of our actions must be to apprehend, try, and convict those responsible for planning, implementing, or abetting the Sept. 11 attacks. We must also seek to eliminate the transnational criminal and financial networks that sustain these terrorist operations and to end all state support for or cooperation with terrorist organizations.

Our response to these crimes must be multilateral, rather than unilateral. This was an atrocity not only against the U.S., but against the entire world. It was an offense against human civilization itself, against the very idea of a lawful democratic society.

From all over the world, we have heard expressions of sympathy and support. From Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas have come offers of help and pledges of solidarity. From every corner of the planet, we have heard the poignant refrain, "We are all Americans now ... we are all New Yorkers."

Americans can feel a tremendous pride in this support, but with this goodwill comes responsibility. We owe it to ourselves and to the rest of the world to mount an effective international effort against terrorism. We have an unprecedented opportunity to turn the sympathy and goodwill we enjoy into a mighty worldwide coalition to eliminate the cancer of terrorism.

The terrorist threat is a global phenomenon, and it requires a multinational response. The adversary here is not a nation-state or identifiable military force, but a shadowy network of individuals and groups scattered across many countries. The Al Qaeda organization of Osama bin Laden numbers an estimated 3,000 militants operating in more than 30 nations, according to a Library of Congress report. It is a relatively small, highly dispersed operation, and thus not the kind of target that lends itself to large-scale bombing attacks or conventional warfare. Defeating international terrorism requires responses that are more appropriate to criminal prosecution than to military combat. Assembling evidence, identifying and indicting those responsible, and bringing them to trial are police, rather than military, functions.

The bin Laden organization and other terrorist networks are obviously fired by an intense hatred of the U.S. They have been indoctrinated with a distorted interpretation of Islam. The terrorist leaders have managed to portray themselves as the true defenders of Islam. They are willing to die for their cause and to kill thousands of innocents in the process. They are not cowards, as Pres. Bush has claimed, but highly disciplined and fanatical believers in a warped ideology. They are driven to their creel and misguided mission by desperation and deeply felt grievances. They have been taught and have come to believe that the U.S. is the enemy of Islam and the Arab world. Our policies in response to the terrorist attacks must avoid further inflaming these misperceptions. The vast majority of Islamic and Arab leaders and opinion-makers adamantly oppose the terrorist networks and their perverted interpretation of Islam. Enlisting the support and cooperation of peace-minded Muslims in the struggle against terrorism is crucial to the success of the response strategy.

As horrendous as the Sept. 11 slaughter was, it could have been much worse if the terrorists had employed nuclear weapons or other means of mass destruction. The Sept. 11 attacks were a demonstration of our frightening vulnerability. If terrorists were to employ such weapons--a possibility that has increased in our fragmented, post-Cold War era--their ability to threaten and destroy our lives would be multiplied exponentially. …

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