McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–The oversized headline dominating the front page of Wednesday’s USA Today stated, “Act of War.” Joining President George W. Bush in echoing the same sentiment were many members of congress. As news spread confirming the vicious terrorist attacks on both the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Americans everywhere voiced their agreement.
The thought of our country once again engaging in war is sobering. Former U.S. Marine Corps Commandant General A.M. Gray stated, “War is among the greatest horrors known to mankind; it should never be romanticized. The means of war is force, applied in the form of organized violence.” General T. Sherman rightly observed, “War is hell.” Even so, we must deal severely with the sinister forces behind these atrocious attacks. Our freedom and way of life hang in the balance.
If we do not take deliberate and decisive action upon the thugs behind Sept. 11’s malicious raids, we will live in fear for decades to come. We must, as the president stated, “… make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.” Any nation that aids, supports, endorses or applauds terrorism must be viewed, in the very least, as enablers of the dastardly deeds. At the very worst, they are complicit in the slaughter of innocent lives.
In 1989 General A.M. Gray produced a 77-page document titled, “Warfighting.” He summed his work up in the forward by writing: “This book describes my philosophy on warfighting. It is the Marine Corps’ doctrine and, as such, provides the authoritative basis for how we fight and how we prepare to fight.” General Gray’s insights are invaluable as we contemplate waging war with terrorists and those who protect them.
Simply taking the defensive measures of tightening security will not insure safety. In fact, according to General Gray, terrorists will conclude that we are frail in our resolve. He observes, “…we resort to the defensive when weakness compels.” Some believe the success of the terrorist missions Sept. 11 will fuel more, albeit less intense, assault. When it comes to terrorism, precautions can only produce the illusion of security. It is very difficult to deter someone who is willing to die in an attack.
“The essence of war is the violent clash between two hostile, independent and irreconcilable wills, each trying to impose itself on the other,” General Gray writes. “Thus,” he continues, “the object of war is to impose our will on our enemy.” Our will must be the eradication of the type of terrorism that took place in New York City and Washington.
The imposition of our will cannot be achieved by a few “surgical” strikes on “strategic” targets. In the words of General Gray, “We must either eliminate his [the enemy’s] physical ability to resist, short of this, we must destroy his will to resist.” We must engage in an intensive and systematic campaign to bring terrorism to its knees.
The price of the freedom we enjoy has been the blood of brave men and women. Are we willing to once again make an investment in liberty, or will we allow terrorists to plunder our freedom and imprison us in fear? Time will tell.