The 100% Solution - October 7, 2001
It has taken up residence deep within us. We go through our daily routines, but we know it is there. Like a low humming sound. Like a faint tremor. It flits intermittently beneath the surface.
We hear about a Greyhound bus being overturned. One detail is hideously familiar. The driver's throat has been slit with a box-cutter. Almost immediately, the press reports that a government spokesperson has labeled the incident as a random act.
We read of a Russian airliner that crashes into the Black Sea, of a photo-editor who is dying from a rare case of anthrax, and of a bomb that goes off in the Saudi city of al-Khobar, killing an American and injuring several others. We remember that this is the same city where, in 1996, nineteen U.S. servicemen lost their lives.
Then the newspapers let us in on a classified meeting. An intelligence officer has said that we are 100% certain to have another terrorist attack if we take military action against Afghanistan.
And now the military action has begun. All of a sudden that abstract undercurrent, which was previously content to linger beneath the surface, rushes forward to reveal itself. It is an uninvited caller we hesitate to even acknowledge. It is fear.
The "peace at all cost" crowd has been warning us that a military response will bring dire consequences. The academic elite has a list of non-violent solutions that it tells us will make us safe again.
But the truth is, our nation will never be safe again, unless and until our enemies fear us more than they hate us. Prior to 1993, the same terrorists hated us, and their hatred for us was equally as intense. Yet they never brought their abhorrent activity to our continental borders. The simple reason - they were afraid of us. Our task must be to restore the fear they once possessed.
Two risks stand out as infinitely greater than the one predicted to follow any military action taken on our part against the terrorists. The first risk is to project to our adversaries an image of weakness. Our enemies have a tribal mentality. Inaction will embolden them to accelerate their activities to such an extent that our citizenry will pay an unimaginable and unending price.
The second risk is to respond ineffectively. Our leaders face enormous challenges with numerous variables at play. Relationships and rivalries in the region require that officials use extensive strategic planning as well as the highest degree of finesse. This is why we have been asked to be patient.
It is also important that we build up our reserve of courage. Mark Twain once wrote, "Courage is resistance to fear not absence of fear". We have felt the fear. Now it is time to resist it. As we move forward despite fear, courage will manifest itself.
It will be the type of courage that realistically accepts that in a long campaign some punches will be landed. This will not deter us. Some setbacks will occur, but we will not falter. With our reserve in tow we will move forth, determined to accept nothing less than 100% victory.