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TERRORISM WILL GROW IF AMERICA STRIKES BACK

I disagree with Don Esmonde's assertion that the United States must go to war in Afghanistan because we owe it to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. The problem with his conclusion is that a military response is more likely to spread terrorism than to wipe it out - a possibility that Esmonde himself admits. But surely putting even more civilians at risk worldwide does nothing to honor the victims of the attacks in New York or Washington.

The current U.S. response rests on the faulty assumption that the root of our fears is an identifiable group of terrorists, and that these terrorists could not exist without the support of (and haven in) seven rogue nations. All the United States needs to do is identify the terrorists and wipe them out, along with the governments that support them.

But terrorism is not the sort of tangible, finite beast that can be wiped out by military means. It is fueled by fear and anger, and these emotions - whether initially misdirected at the United States or not - will only grow faster if we continue to respond to violence with even mightier violence. And terrorists don't need the support of governments, as Timothy McVeigh sadly showed.

BRUCE ACKER

Williamsville

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