Winning the war on terrorism
By Henry Lamb
web posted May 24, 2004
The outcome of a battle is determined by superior armaments,
strategy, or tactics; the outcome of war is determined by depth
of purpose. The battle of Pearl Harbor in 1941 was won by the
enemy. But the war was won by a united America that was
determined to stop the aggression of a Japanese emperor. The
battle of New York, September 11, 2001 was won by the
enemy. But the war will be lost, unless a united America is
determined to stop the aggression of fanatical terrorists.
There is no depth of purpose in America to defeat the enemy, as
there was in 1941. America is bitterly divided between those
who see terrorism as a threat just as serious as either of the
World War II enemies, and those whose priorities place the
terror threat near the bottom of their list of concerns.
America cannot win the war against terrorism without a strong,
united effort, and an absolute determination to stop the fanatics
who celebrate the slaughter of innocent Americans.
Had America's determination faltered during World War II,
Japanese or German might well be the language of our land. Had
America's determination not been divided in Vietnam, there
might well be a growing culture of representative governments in
that region. Hindsight serves only to confirm the fact that if the
war on terrorism is to be won, America must be united in
In past wars, the enemy was easily defined - a nation. In the
current war, the enemy is not a nation, nor a government, but a
philosophy, a world view, a religion - and terror is the tactic of
choice to impose their view on others. It is not enough to simply
say "let them worship as they choose." We tried that. For 20
years, we left them alone, while they continued to recruit, and
build a secret underground army - and attack American targets
The attack on September 11, 2001 launched a war, a new kind
of war, that America must win. America has the superior
armaments, strategies, and tactics, but lacks the depth of
purpose necessary to win. The enemy fights with second-hand
weapons, ad hoc strategies and tactics - but the enemy has a
depth of purpose beyond any enemy we've ever encountered.
Few remain in this generation who remember the ration books,
the black-outs, and the sacrifices required to unite America with
a depth of purpose sufficient to defeat both Japan and Germany.
Since those days, America's freedom has allowed the growth of
ideas and philosophies that seek to divide the nation rather than
to unite it.
Before the first bomb fell in Baghdad, anti-war organizations
stoked up their public relations machines to sway public opinion
and create diversions, and division among Americans. The
flames of opposition to the war on terror are fanned by charges
such as: "it's about oil;" or "Bush's revenge for Saddam's attempt
to assassinate Bush Sr.;" or "it's to reward Bush's corporate
These short-sighted diversions are often nothing more than
efforts to exploit the war for political advantage. Organizations
MoveOn.org, and the
Communist Party U.S.A., have as their single purpose, the
defeat of George Bush, and the recapture of the White House by
people more sympathetic to their socialist philosophy.
This war on terrorism is far more important than politics; it goes
to the very core of America's freedom. The enemy will not
change its purpose whether a Democrat or a Communist is
elected President. The enemy joins the "anyone but Bush" crowd
because, as during the Clinton years, the enemy could build its
resources with relatively little harassment.
The war on terrorism is a long-term commitment that will require
on-going sacrifices of blood and treasure. It must be fought on
many fronts, perhaps simultaneously. Afghanistan and Iraq are
but different battlefields in the same war. There may be more
battlefields. But the war will not be won on the battlefield.
The war against terrorism will not be won until the victims of
terror discover a better way to live. The most challenging task
America faces is to help the victims of terror construct a system
of self-governance that provides the individual freedom for
people to pursue their own happiness. It will not be an easy
process. The fanatics whose power is threatened will do all they
can do to prevent the emergence of freedom in land they claim
as their own.
The public decapitation of an American civilian is an act designed
to destroy the purpose that empowers American resolve. There
will be more, perhaps even more brutal acts by the terrorist
fanatics. These acts should not lessen American resolve, they
should unleash a rage that deepens our resolve, strengthens our
determination of purpose, and unifies every American in a
common purpose - to rid the world of terrorism.
Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental
Conservation Organization (ECO), and chairman of Sovereignty
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