ARE WE AT WAR? IF NOT, LET'S DECLARE IT!
By Hugo J. Byrne
Caution: If you are used to read only pleasantries and your ability to ponder have been diminished by our present tragedy, or if your philosophical mindset is of the "political correctness" type, please do not read this piece. You may get offended. In case you are alert enough as to regard our present national crisis as a conflict of life or death, then by all means you should consider reading it. On the other hand, if you count yourself somehow among those irrational few I referred to on the first sentence, and decide to read it anyway, I hope you get offended! You see, I am angry! I am as angry at this point in my life as any thinking man can possibly be, because I love this country. I choose her as my home for identical reasons I choose the woman I love. That is why I volunteered and served this nation honorably. Are we at war? Yes, of course. Someone is at war with us. Our President was right when he qualified the violence unleashed against the innocent victims in the jetliners, the WTC Twin Towers and the Pentagon, as acts of war. However, we are not at war because so far we have not declared war on anybody and for now, we will not. Contradictory? Confusing? You bet. It is also a very dangerous path. Someone could say, how for crying out loud could we declare war if we don't even know the identity of the aggressor? The investigation is following its due course and until the F.B.I. findings demonstrate the participation of other parties besides the physical perpetrators, we cannot retaliate! The previous paragraph would sound very logical except for the simple fact that we do know who the culprits are. No, I am not in possession of classified data and I am not implying Osama Bin Laden or anybody else. Everybody identified the aggressors within minutes of their crime. The President himself put it as accurate and simple as could be: "We have been attacked by international terrorism." So, there you are, we are supposedly "at war with terrorism." Are we going in circles and playing with words? What does all that mean?
The statements by our Commander in Chief could have more than one meaning. Those statements could mean that our President could decide to go to a joint session of Congress -as he is doing today- to request a formal declaration of war -as he is not planning to do- against whichever parties conspired against us with the terrorists. That step would give legal sanction to any and all military responses we see fit to exact on any foe identified with certainty by our investigative agencies. Then anybody found giving aid and comfort to those parties within the confines of our country could be legally charged with treason or espionage. In that situation all "rogue states" providing aid and safe haven to fanatic mass murderers of our people, could be dealt with in a deserving and exemplary way. Of course, objections to that procedure would be many and from powerful quarters. It would be called "irresponsible" on the basis that the accomplices of the terrorists may include multiple states. Some of those states, they would claim, could be difficult to defeat militarily. Countries with nuclear capabilities may assist them. They could have strong ties with some of our "friends and allies." A formal declaration of war, we will be advised, could plunge to the bottom our financial markets, already in deep waters. To formally unleash the dogs of war, they would declare, could have "negative consequences to our national interests." To any nation on earth there is no greater interest that the defense of its citizens. That is common sense. Unfortunately those seeking "compromise or middle ground" with fanatics so committed to death and destruction that they are willing to sacrifice their lives in the process, tend to ignore common sense. It comes to mind one scene of the Hollywood movie "Independence Day", in which the President of the U.S. finally confronts one of the leaders of the alien nation waging a devastating war on our citizens and ask him: "What can we do for you to stop your aggression?" The terse answer goes: "You can die!" This is the type of enemy we face today and have been facing for years, whether we are capable of realizing it or not. The stark difference with the movie is of course, that the holocaust of September 11, and whatever horror comes to us in its wake, is not Hollywood make believe, but chilling reality. Visceral hate against the United States, its political institutions and its people, has been a fact of life in this world for many years. We can ignore that fact if we so choose, but only at our peril. Perhaps the religious arch fanatics are the only ones capable of self-immolation while destroying our people, our property and the symbols of our nationality. However, we have other enemies who would seek the same objective if it could be achieved in relative impunity. When Fidel Castro felt supported by the former Soviet Union, he did not hesitate threatening us with nuclear devastation, ten fold our Manhattan disaster. Could we regard that threat as just some obscure crisis from a distant past? No! Let's consider Castro's anti American rhetoric during the months preceding September 11. To Iranian Supreme Leader Khameini on May 9 of 2001: "Today there is a king in the world a thousand times stronger than the Sha you overthrew, and that is the imperialist king living next to my homeland. We should work hand in hand to bring down the United States." (A.P. and France Press). Castro's Minister of Foreign Affaires responded to the recent arrest of another couple of his spies in Florida vowing, "Cuba will continue infiltrating agents into United States…" In its Overview of State Sponsored Terrorism for the year 2000, published in April 2001, the U.S. Department of State characterized Castro's regime as one that "…continues to provide safe haven for several terrorists and U.S. fugitives in 2000. A number of Basque ETA terrorists who gained sanctuary in Cuba some years ago continue to live on the island, as did several U.S. terrorist fugitives. Havana also maintains ties to other states sponsors of terrorism and Latin American insurgents. Colombia's two largest terrorists organizations…maintained a permanent presence on the island." Two Afghan nationals suspected of collusion with the terrorists of September 11 are in custody in Cayman Island, charged with entering illegally from Cuba. In spite of all that, our Secretary of State defined recently the Cuban tyranny as one that "…no longer represents a danger to the U.S." Also, believe it or not, our State Department has requested the help of the Cuban and Libyan governments in tracking the culprits of September 11. There is even talk of bringing Sadam to our side. Have we gone nuts? That thought of insanity brings us to an alternative interpretation of the statements of our President. The notion of "bringing the culprits to justice" is ludicrous. Let's declare war! Let's make it legal! The enemy must be destroyed before the opposite occurs. In the very near future we shall perish or be victorious, we shall conquer or be killed. We may be ignoring that. For all I hear, see and feel, we could be starting another "international police action", of the notorious kind we already waged and lost in Viet Nam. I am confident the President will be eloquent and rousing in his address tonight. Tonight we will stand united, but only the law will keep us as one when the cheering stops and the bloodletting starts. Are we at war? Don't kid me. I am too angry to laugh!