The Case for Restraint

by Cari Oleskewicz

............... The emotional tendency for revenge is understandable. We are, after all, human. In the wake of an attack on our own country, on our own land, on our own identity, we want to strike back. We want to unleash all of our anger, our hurt, our frustration, and our desperation. We want to unleash it and direct it toward a comfortable target, a deserving target, and an easily despised target.
............... But it is not so simple.
............... Let us encourage our leaders to consider our enemy. Our enemy is brutal. Our enemy is cold. Our enemy is pitiful and ungodly.
............... Let us not become our enemy.
............... We have decided this is a war on terrorism. Fine. No one in a free and orderly world benefits from terrorists or their acts. The United States, in concert with nations around the world, should actively work to discover and combat those who plan and perpetrate violence against innocent citizens of any country. We should do what we can to stop it before it happens and to try and ensure it does not happen again. We should do this with intelligence, with diplomacy and with politics. Nations should keep each other informed. This is where the case for globalization is made. Isolationism is not a strategy that will work for any country in the 21st century. Itís not easy to know where the terrorists are and what they are doing 24 hours a day. Itís not easy to even know who exactly the terrorists are. However, we need to unite as a world community, and we need to focus our energies.
............... A military strike is not a good idea. Even the most ardent hawks know in the backs of their very intelligent minds that war will be costly, it will be terrible, and it will be futile.
............... Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of many terrorist attacks, including the ones on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, welcomes and has planned for our retaliation.
............... Terrorists everywhere are hoping we strike. Theyíre hoping we strike hard. Theyíre hoping we hit countries like Afghanistan with a torrent of bombs and soldiers.
............... Our military revenge will only encourage their behavior.
............... Our military revenge will reward them for their meticulous planning, their hard work and their devotion to their cause.
............... They are baiting us into a holy war, and America needs to rise above the initial emotional impulse to blow away anyone we can.
............... President Bush and his cabinet have shown impressive restraint so far. However, they have promised violence on behalf of we, the American people. We must search ourselves and consider the consequences. We are better than the terrorists.
............... There are other considerations, past knowing that our military response is exactly what our enemy wants. We must consider than an air strike against Afghanistan will result only in the bombing of mountains, caves, and peasants who have been tormented by their own government for years. We might kill a terrorist or two, though it is doubtful, since they know weíre coming. Instead, we will kill children who have been starving, and women who have been denied the basic privilege of leaving oneís house. We will be at war with the Taliban, but only if we can get to them. We will be at war with individuals who delight in oppressing their own people, with a nation that successfully waged war against the former Soviet Union for ten years. We will gain little from a war with Afghanistan.
............... We must also consider the matter of Pakistan, a country which has a nuclear bomb or two tucked away for rainy days. They are with us not because they abhor terrorism too, but because they donít want to incur our wrath. Pakistanís allegiance to the United States has caused rioting and protests in the streets. Do we really want to incite political instability in a country with nuclear capability?
............... We want justice.
............... But if America does respond with aircraft carriers and troops and tanks and Stealth bombers, America will reinforce its brutish image of a country eager to drop bombs and call the shots. Our enemies will rejoice.
............... America is better than this.
............... We have shown the world we can come together and remain strong even after an unexpected act of violence. We should continue to show them that there is more to America than tanks and bombs.
............... America is thoughtful and progressive and fun and industrious. America is people and places and celebrations and institutions. America is forgiving and loving and compassionate and sturdy. America is above knee-jerk reactions and the abandon of common sense.
............... America is beautiful.


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