The following articles are two contrasting viewpoints written immediately after the September 11, 2001 hijackings and attacks on World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.

To War, Not to Court
By Charles Krauthammer
  International Crime, Not War
By Tom Barry and Martha Honey

This is not crime. This is war. One of the reasons there are terrorists out there capable and audacious enough to carry out the deadliest attack on the United States in its history is that, while they have declared war on us, we have in the past responded (with the exception of a few useless cruise missile attacks on empty tents in the desert) by issuing subpoenas.

Secretary of State Colin Powell's first reaction to the day of infamy was to pledge to "bring those responsible to justice." This is exactly wrong. Franklin Roosevelt did not respond to Pearl Harbor by pledging to bring the commander of Japanese naval aviation to justice. He pledged to bring Japan to its knees.

You bring criminals to justice; you rain destruction on combatants. This is a fundamental distinction that can no longer be avoided. The bombings of Sept. 11, 2001, must mark a turning point. War was long ago declared on us. Until we declare war in return, we will have thousands of more innocent victims.

We no longer have to search for a name for the post-Cold War era. It will henceforth be known as the age of terrorism. Organized terror has shown what it can do: execute the single greatest massacre in American history, shut down the greatest power on the globe and send its leaders into underground shelters. All this, without even resorting to chemical, biological or nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

This is a formidable enemy. To dismiss it as a bunch of cowards perpetrating senseless acts of violence is complacent nonsense. People willing to kill thousands of innocents while they kill themselves are not cowards. They are deadly, vicious warriors and need to be treated as such. Nor are their acts of violence senseless. They have a very specific aim: to avenge alleged historical wrongs and to bring the great American satan to its knees.

Nor is the enemy faceless or mysterious. We do not know for sure who gave the final order but we know what movement it comes from. The enemy has identified itself in public and openly. Our delicate sensibilities have prevented us from pronouncing its name.

Its name is radical Islam. Not Islam as practiced peacefully by millions of the faithful around the world. But a specific fringe political movement, dedicated to imposing its fanatical ideology on its own societies and destroying the society of its enemies, the greatest of which is the United States.

Israel, too, is an affront to radical Islam, and thus of course must be eradicated. But it is the smallest of fish. The heart of the beast -- with its military in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey and the Persian Gulf; with a culture that "corrupts" Islamic youth; with an economy and technology that dominate the world -- is the United States. That is why we were struck so savagely.

How do we know? Who else trains cadres of fanatical suicide murderers who go to their deaths joyfully? And the average terrorist does not coordinate four hijackings within one hour. Nor fly a plane into the tiny silhouette of a single building. For that you need skilled pilots seeking martyrdom. That is not a large pool to draw from.

These are the shock troops of the enemy. And the enemy has many branches. Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Israel, the Osama bin Laden organization headquartered in Afghanistan, and various Arab "liberation fronts" based in Damascus. And then there are the governments: Iran, Iraq, Syria and Libya among them. Which one was responsible? We will find out soon enough.

But when we do, there should be no talk of bringing these people to "swift justice," as Karen Hughes dismayingly promised mid-afternoon yesterday. An open act of war demands a military response, not a judicial one.

Military response against whom? It is absurd to make war on the individuals who send these people. The terrorists cannot exist in a vacuum. They need a territorial base of sovereign protection. For 30 years we have avoided this truth. If bin Laden was behind this, then Afghanistan is our enemy. Any country that harbors and protects him is our enemy. We must carry their war to them.

We should seriously consider a congressional declaration of war. That convention seems quaint, unused since World War II. But there are two virtues to declaring war: It announces our seriousness both to our people and to the enemy, and it gives us certain rights as belligerents (of blockade, for example).

The "long peace" is over. We sought this war no more than we sought war with Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan or Cold War with the Soviet Union. But when war was pressed upon the greatest generation, it rose to the challenge. The question is: Will we?

Wahington Post OPINION
September 12, 2001, Page A29


America is living through a tragedy of unprecedented depth. Our might--military and economic--has been targeted, and our vulnerability exposed. We are shocked, outraged, determined to respond. Yet we awake to a new day sickened by the cruelty and insanity of this political violence--and uncertain if we, too, want blood on our hands.

Will vengeance, even when guided by the best of America's surgical strike technology, ease this tragedy and end the cycle of terror? Upon reflection and based on past experience, we know better.

The crime was horrific. Never have so many Americans died from violence on a single day. It felt and looked like war. Our national security came under direct attack, and the resulting carnage was comparable to the worst of war--Pearl Harbor, firebombing of Dresden, Cambodia, and Normandy. President Bush and Secretary of State Powell have call the crashes "acts of war." But having four commercial airliners commandeered by political fanatics is not war, it is international terrorism, albeit at its worst. No nation or peoples have declared war on the United States. In terms of intent and character, the political violence yesterday in Washington and New York bears more similarity to the terrorist bombing of the federal bombing in Oklahoma City than to Pearl Harbor.
Yesterday certainly was a day of infamy, but it was not--and should not be--the beginning of war.

America and all nations concerned about peace, justice, and dignity will need to respond. But the response should be deliberate, just, and humane. In the past, the U.S. has responded to terrorist attacks with military strikes that were misdirected, mistakenly targeted, and counterproductive. The 1986 bombing raids on two Libyan cities, the bombing of a Baghdad neighborhood in 1993 in response to rumors of a planned assassination attempt on former President Bush, and most recently the air strike on a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant mistakenly believed to be chemical weapons factory associated with Osama bin Laden are three cases that should remind us of the folly--and terrorism--of vengeful retaliatory strikes.

Talk by our leaders of war and retribution, while possibly boosting our patriotic spirit, is dangerous and irresponsible. The politics of vengeance will do little to protect us, and will only fuel more terrorism. But neither can we passively accept our helplessness and vulnerability.

We need to mourn, bury our dead, and move on--but not to business and foreign policy as usual. What's needed now is a new U.S. resolve to address--and not simply react to--the causes of political violence in the post-cold war world. Our president's father promised at the onset of the Persian Gulf War to establish a "new world order" but it's a promise that has gone unfulfilled. Instead, over the past decade we have seen rising global disorder and conflict. Rather than gathering the world's nations together to address the scourges of international terrorism, ethnic and religious conflicts, and the polarization of poor and wealthy nations, the U.S. has relinquished its leadership role. Arrogance, unilateralism, isolationism, and imperialism are the terms now commonly used by the international press and scholars to describe the U.S. role in global affairs.

The attack on America's centers of power was an extremist reaction to what is perceived as a new world order where only the U.S. calls the shots. But it was, first and foremost, a crime against all humanity. If there is to be justice in this incident and if there is to be the rule of law in international affairs, the U.S. should seek the solace and support of the international community. Despite differences with U.S. foreign policy, especially in the conflicted Middle East, nations around the world have been quick to express their own outrage and willingness to join with America to fight and reduce the causes of international terrorism.

As Americans deliberate an effective response to this tragedy and crime, we must first reject the call for war. The gauntlet goading us to militaristic responses that treat human life as callously as the terrorists treated ours must be categorically rejected. As with any other crime, the perpetrators and their accomplices must be brought to justice--in the courts of law, not according to the fundamentalist "eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth" precepts. In recent years, we have made encouraging progress in establishing and enforcing international norms for human rights and crimes against humanity. This is an opportunity to forge a broader international coalition--bringing disparate nations together in a common determination to fight against such crimes against humanity.

A first principle, then, must be that we treat this as an international crime, not an act of war, and that the rules of law should guide international response.

A second principle that should guide U.S. policy is that our investigation, pursuit, and prosecution should as much as possible count on consultation with and the cooperation of the world community of nations. Any government suspected of harboring or otherwise aiding these international terrorists should answer to concerted international pressure, not just American outrage. If indeed, military action is deemed necessary, it should carry the approval of the UN Security Council--otherwise the U.S. too will be violating the basic principles of international law.

While charting the appropriate response, the U.S. government must also begin the long-overdue task of formulating a security policy that truly protects Americans from new global threats. As critics have insisted, the Bush administration's promise that a national missile defense system would protect us looks increasingly hollow. If terrorists want to attack us, they can do so from our own soil and with our own aircraft. Our politicians would dishonor the dead, however, if they focused the new security debate solely on issues of intelligence reform and defense technology.

More fundamentally, the U.S. needs to take a hard look at the policies and political structures that fan the flames of terrorism--to understand why such anger in the Middle East and elsewhere is directed at America. The task of forging a security policy not just on our response capability but also on addressing the new causal factors for war and terrorism is surely America's greatest challenge--and our success will be the true measure of our character.

Terrorism is mainly the weapon of the politically weak, frustrated ideologues, and religious fanatics. The U.S. should not retaliate in kind--not allowing any compulsion for revenge or the affirmation of U.S. military might to divert America from its moral principles and global leadership responsibilities.

Tom Barry of the Interhemispheric Resource Center and Martha Honey of the Institute for Policy Studies are codirectors of Foreign Policy In Focus (

Prevent Genocide International

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