From the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader:
Everything was in place: the troops and weapons within striking distance, the international coalition built, humanitarian aid arranged and ultimatums unheeded. Sunday's military strikes against Afghanistan should have come as no surprise. The Bush administration adequately prepared the world for the justifiable retaliation for Sept. 11's terrorist attacks. ...
What can ordinary Americans do?
Don't let it tear us further apart, pitting ethnic groups and religions against one another. Already too much of that is happening across the country. How will those tensions be aggravated when body bags start coming home?
Allow for dissent. We don't live in a dictatorship or theocracy. Americans have the right, even the duty, to question our political and military leaders.
Support our soldiers. Never again should those willing to die for this country be denounced for policies beyond their control.
Don't unnecessarily forfeit civil liberties. Just because our intelligence agencies didn't see the Sept. 11 attack coming, doesn't mean we must now live in a police state.
Don't live in fear. It would be foolish to believe that America will never again suffer a terrorist attack. If we are afraid to live our lives, the terrorists win.
Hold our government accountable for the promises made to supportive countries, especially Islamic ones. If not, we will simply create more countries run by anti-American radicals. And some of them could easily have access to nuclear weapons.
Those who plotted and aided the terrorist attacks should be punished, and the governments that support terrorism organizations should be held accountable. Here's hoping U.S. actions can achieve that, as well as making the world a more desirable place to live.
From The Cincinnati Enquirer:
One of the first targets that was obliterated by cruise missiles and bombs on Sunday was doubt.
No more doubt that President George W. Bush means business.
No more doubt about the resolve of our nation and its allies, especially Great Britain.
No more doubt about world opinion, with 40 nations lined up to fight terrorism.
And no more doubt about the guilt of Osama bin Laden, who was seen on TV in a tape made before the bombs started falling, openly confessing his jihad ''holy war'' against the United States and his role in terrorist attacks.
Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, Ill.:
The war against terrorism that we know must be fought has now begun. On Sunday, the United States and Britain launched air and missile strikes against terrorist bases and training camps in Afghanistan.
The aim of this war is not to destroy a country and its people. It is to contain, if not eliminate, a genuine threat, a clear and present danger to our lives and security that exhibited itself so viciously on Sept. 11.
Unless the tentacles of terrorism are severed, they will continue to extend their bloody reach with victory, in the minds of the terrorists, being the strangulation of all that is good -- freedom, tolerance, compassion, basic human decency.
This is a war that must be waged, lest we find ourselves vulnerable to more acts of terror; terror that can escalate into even uglier forms than what we saw Sept. 11. We cannot doubt that terrorists would attack us with chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. They are capable of using every means to achieve their demented victory. ...
And at home, the threat of terrorism, the sense of vulnerability, intensifies for us all with the onset of this war. We cannot, however, be overwhelmed by fear or paralyzed by pessimism. In this cause, there is no choice. Clearly, there is a strong possibility that war may prompt more terrorism on our shores. But just as clearly, appeasement inevitably would. ...
Vindicator, Youngstown, Ohio, on the war against terrorism:
The world held its breath for 25 days waiting for the inevitable, and on Sunday the inevitable happened.
The United States and its primary ally, Great Britain, began what will be a long, difficult and costly endeavor -- bringing to justice Osama bin Laden and others who supported, directly and indirectly, the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
This is not a war against the Afghan people, and it is certainly not a war against Islam.
It is a war against terrorism, a terrorism that has shown its ugly face before, but never in such a horrible contortion as it did on September 11. ...
It is up to America to define itself at this moment in history.
We can be the nation that bin Laden sees -- weak, corrupt and too ready to run.
Or we can be the people described Sunday by President Bush in his call to battle, when he declared: ''We will not waver, we will not tire, we will not falter and we will not fail.''
The president asks us to take the harder road, but the choice is easy.
The Washington Post on the moral nature of this war:
Day One of the long campaign ahead against global terror established an overriding war aim for the United States remarkable in clarity and ambition. The strikes on Afghanistan were a necessary first step toward removing terrorist-inspired fear from the everyday concerns of Americans.
One round of limited military action cannot accomplish that aim. President George W. Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Prime Minister Tony Blair were wise to stress that reality in campaign-opening statements. They showed awareness that the initial effect of combat abroad is usually to increase public apprehension, as may well be the case with yesterday's U.S.-British missile and air attacks.
But the best chance of achieving their broad goal lies in continuing the steady, calculated and merciful approach to war in Afghanistan that Bush and Blair enunciated and carried out in the initial military response to the Sept. 11 mass terror attacks on American targets. ...
This is a moral combat as well as, or perhaps even more than, a military one. As bin Laden tries to spread mass fear, the United States and its allies must continue to show that their purpose is to remove fear, for Americans and for everyone else. The measured nature and scope of the initial attacks strongly suggest that the Bush administration understands this fundamental point. That is an important and positive result of Day One. ...
Rumsfeld realistically counseled Americans that there was ''no silver bullet, no single thing that will make the threat disappear'' right away. Success in this campaign will come from applying sustained pressure that causes the terrorists and their supporters ''to collapse from within,'' he said.
And it is only then that the fear that has hung heavily over American politics, the economy and other phases of daily life since Sept. 11 will abate significantly. ...
St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press on America's patience and the retaliatory strikes:
The war like no other made itself apparent from the night skies over Afghanistan 26 days after the United States of America was attacked. British and American forces initiated the first air strikes of the military campaign against terrorism that seeks to consume freedom. Patience in preparing for the actions aimed at disabling the Taliban seems to have paid dividends. It surely must have been tempting to President Bush, as it was for most Americans, to wish almost a month ago to unloose the fateful lightning, retaliating for the worst mass murder in American history.
But the administration and Congress have resisted the urges for short-term satisfaction that would fail, preferring instead to plan for the long term to ensure a safer future for free people everywhere.
The American leadership has been wise to craft military, diplomatic, intelligence, financial and humanitarian weapons for this war in ways that reflect the breadth and complexity and risks of the mission. It is telling now that the message from Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom and from Bush is that the target is not the Afghan people, but the Taliban's ability to terrorize people within the country while nurturing Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida networks. ...
In recent years, patience has not been a strength of the American people. A country with a short history and a short memory was focused on short-term economic trends, faltering politics and widespread indifference to the duties of citizens. In 26 days, the embrace of unity and the mature acceptance of dangers ahead show that citizens are ready for the war like no other.
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