America faces a difficult decision in the coming days and weeks: How to respond to the tragic events of Sept. 11? Some say that intelligence must be gathered, leads followed and terrorists "brought to justice." Some say that we must not let violence beget violence. Some say that it is our own ignorance of that part of the world that has brought this devastation upon our shores. Some say it is impossible to attack an enemy you cannot see. I strongly disagree.
This, above all others, is the time to invoke the "Powell Doctrine" of absolute and disproportionate force. We woke last Tuesday morning to find two towers - staples of our landscape - gone, and thousands of our citizens dead or injured. On the news, Arab people were shown dancing in the streets. The next step needs to be that they wake up one morning to find one of their cities and millions of their people gone.
They don't believe we will do it, and that is why we must do it. The Japanese did not believe we would use an atomic bomb at Hiroshima. We had to prove it. Then they did not believe we would do it again. Next came Nagasaki. At last, they complied with our demands and surrendered. We have never had another problem with Japan "waking the sleeping giant."
Once these terrorist groups see that their actions bring total devastation upon millions of their own countrymen, they will finally begin to think twice. Those who would have harbored the terrorists will give them up willingly, just to stop the carnage. And those who might have been tempted to emulate them in the future will have good reason not to do so.
It is, I agree, a difficult and unpleasant course of action. We must not flinch. We must not feel guilty. We did not start it, but we need to finish it, once and for all.
CHRISTOPHER A. RICHBART