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Published On: September 14, 2001          Updated On: September 16, 2001
© Terence T. Gorski, 2001

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America Is Ready For War - 
Reflections On What That Means For America

An Article By Terence T. Gorski
September 14, 2001

I stand united with the President in his desire to end terrorism.  I don't believe, however, that we should go to war now.  I hope that we can find a way to end terrorism without plunging the nation into the ravages of war.  We may not be able to do so.  I believe, however, that the soul of our nation will benefit if we try.  Apparently, my views are in the minority.

Many people are being possessed by war frenzy.  A new TIME/CNN poll shows that Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of military action in response to the terrorist acts against America on September 11, 2001.  Here are the numbers:

  1.  Believe Congress Should Declare War Now ............... 62%

  2.  Believe Declaration of War Will Leader 
       To larger Conflict ............................................................. 65%

  3.  Don't Know Who To Declare War Against ................... 61%

  4.  In Favor Of Strategic Air Strikes Against 
       Isolated Military Targets .................................................. 85% 

  5.  Support Assassinations of Leaders 
        Responsible for the Terrorism ......................................  81%

  6.  In Favor of a Ground Invasion "that 
        would result in the loss of U.S. lives" ............................  55%  (38% opposed)

  7.  In Favor of Reinstating The Draft .................................... 66%

This desire to go to war seems to be driven by extreme anger as the shock of the terrorist acts wear off.  The fact that 61% of those polled want to declare war now, even though they don't know who to declare war against, shows that this is an emotional war frenzy - not a reasoned response of sober responsible people.

I saw this War Fever at the beginning of the Viet Nam War.  I watched it turn to tragedy as the best of our young men started coming back in body bags.

Let's not allow ourselves to be possessed by anger, vengeance, or fear.  Let's calmly and rationally debate the benefits and disadvantages of all possible responses.  Then let's choose a course of action  -- not to punish and inflict vengeance -- but to stop this monstrous evil from ever happening again.

It has been said that  Declaring war in an attempt to create peace is like having sex in an attempt to create virginity.  History has shown that killing begets killing in a never ending cycle of vengeance.  It's best to avoid war if at all possible.  War can never produce a lasting peace.  Revenge does not bring peace.  More death cannot restore life.  Ill considered military action, in a time of anger and grief, can lead this nation to even greater tragedy.  

I hope that we all will take time to reflect upon the words that Jesus Christ.  These words must be considered by men of good will in times such as these:  

"I say, love your enemies.  Pray for those who persecute you.  In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven." (Mathew 5: 44-45)

"You have heard that the law of Moses says:  "If your eye is injured, injure the eye of the person who did it.  If a tooth gets knocked out, knock out the tooth of the person who did it.  But I say, don't resist an evil person.  If you are slapped on the right cheek, turn the other cheek also."  (Mathew 5:38)

Perhaps we should be reluctant to declare war until we have reflected upon the need to resolve our grief, work through our anger and fear.  Then and only then will our leadership and our citizens be in a position to declare war, if necessary, for the right reasons.  Then we will be sure that we have exhausted all peaceful alternatives and will  use only the force necessary to make sure that these atrocities shall never occur again.  Then and only then can we be sure that our acts of righteous vengeance in the name God won't do to other people what the terrorists did to our people on September 11, 2001.  Remember, in their mind, the terrorists were acting upon the the will of God.

I pray for peace.  I ask our leaders "Please don't retaliate now!  Please don't stir the war frenzy.  Take time to carefully reflect - not in anger or fear or vengeance -- but in a peaceful spirit of true desire to end the cycle of violence that has plagued mankind since the beginning of recorded time.

We may need to pursue military alternatives.  If we do, it should be based upon the reasoned decisions of men of good will after a full and public debate of all the issues and alternatives -- including non-military responses.

I stand united with the President in his desire to end terrorism.  I don't believe, however, that we should go to war now.  I hope a strategy emerges that can end the terrorist threat without inflicting the evil of war upon us all.

America Is In a Military Mood

Time MagazineFriday, Sep. 14, 2001

A new TIME/CNN poll by Harris Interactive shows that Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of military action.

Americans are ready for military action and most have picked out their man — Osama bin Laden. More than 80% of Americans favor military action, and a similar number support a policy of strategic assassination. These are among the results of a telephone survey of 1,082 adult Americans taken September 13 for TIME and CNN by Harris Interactive. Other findings show that while most Americans (87%) think the nation will recover and move on from these events, the public is likely to change its behavior in a wide range of ways including avoiding flying on airplanes (42%), cutting back on spending (40%), and avoiding public places (14%).

Bin Laden Is Responsible

A near-consensus has developed that Osama bin Laden is personally involved in Tuesday's terrorist attacks. Seventy-eight percent believe this is very likely; 14% somewhat likely.

A majority also associate Saddam Hussein with the attacks. 34% of those polled believe his involvement is very likely and 44% somewhat likely.

Support for Military Action

Public support for military action is high — including the assassination of the responsible leaders (presumably bin Laden), air strikes, and a ground invasion. Only when it comes to massive bombings that might kill civilians is the public more divided in its views.

85% favor strategic air strikes against isolated military targets. 81% support assassinations of leaders responsible for the terrorism. 55% favor a ground invasion "that would result in the loss of U.S. lives" (38% are opposed).

Reflecting the intensity of these views, 66% of Americans say they would favor the reinstatement of the draft if a ground invasion becomes necessary. Sixty-two percent believe Congress should declare war now — although a majority (61%) is not sure whom we should declare war against.

If military actions do occur, most Americans think they will lead to a larger conflict: 65% say it is likely that strikes against bin Laden will lead to a broader war between the U.S. and other countries in the Middle East or Asia.

Fear of Additional Attacks

A majority of Americans think additional attacks are at least somewhat likely elsewhere in the country, and one in three reports that they will change some aspects of their personal life as a result.

39% think it is "very likely" that bombings or similar acts of violence will occur elsewhere in the U.S. in the near future. (This is fewer than the 50% who thought such actions were very likely following the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995).

34% say they will change some aspect of their personal life to reduce the chances of becoming a victim of terror. (The figure was 24% after the Oklahoma City bombing).

The Personal Response

Americans report they are likely to take numerous personal actions in response to the attacks — including, in a minority of cases, cutting back on spending and stockpiling emergency supplies.


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