Should America go to war?
Illustration by Josh Hagler
Thursday September 20, 2001
There is no doubt that war has been waged on America. After two planes collided with the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, and another plane crashed into the Pentagon, America has suffered irreparable damages. An estimated 5,000 people have died, and the centers of American military and economic activity have been attacked.
President Bush and other high-ranking federal officials said from the beginning that America will retaliate, making Osama bin Laden the prime suspect. Although connections have been made to bin Laden and his organization, Al Qaeda (the base), no evidence has surfaced that directly links bin Laden to the attacks.
President Bush said, "This is a war not against a specific individual, nor will it be a war against solely one organization." The focus of speculation has lately centered on Afghanistan, which has harbored bin Laden and his followers. If America does go to war, it appears that Afghanistan will be the target.
Bin Laden's terrorist network stretches around the globe and has been estimated to involve as many as 1,000 individuals. Although Bush has said he will make no distinction between terrorists and those who harbor terrorists, it seems likely that innocent civilians will be put in harm's way.
This war has become the talk of the nation and the world. Will America fight, and if so, to what degree? Do we have another possible Vietnam on our hands? Or will the cycle of violence bring more suffering to American soil?
Dead or Alive: Consider the ramifications
"I was raised in a tradition, a Western tradition. We used to have 'wanted' posters: Dead or Alive."
This news clip of our president at a news conference should have featured some funny anecdote about his childhood in Texas, followed with a punch line about how he was king of the schoolyard. Unfortunately, he talked about real life. He talked about bringing Osama bin Laden to justice.
But can justice prevail right now? We said we will be patient while we conduct a thorough investigation, and we also said we are ready for war. We said we will focus on the future safety and recovery of our fellow Americans, but we are also focusing on the quick deployment of military units. We are a bewildered nation, and we have every right to be.
Every American in the past week has considered the miserable subject of war. And this war, if it occurs, promises to be complex. Have we considered all the ramifications? If we choose to go after bin Laden's people, we must be ready to go after 55 nations that harbor his supporters, including the United States. If we decide this is a war against terrorism, then we must be ready to let our government pick and choose which Arab nations to attack. And if we choose to focus on Afghanistan, someone should warn the already oppressed and innocent civilians that the nightmare is about to get worse.
Laura Winsky is a senior majoring in political science and Spanish. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We must end the list of victims
I was born under fortunate circumstances. Until this summer when I went overseas, the world, as I knew it, was America. I grew up with a full belly and the freedom of thought. Everything I have, both intellectually and financially, is due to my U.S. citizenship and hard-working parents.
The glories of America's history have been taught in history classes, books and film. Although I am fascinated by our past, much of what I learned was biased. After having a class in Middle Eastern humanities, attending a Young Socialist presentation on Palestine, and reading independent newspapers, I have dramatically changed how I perceive the land in which I grew up.
Over 5,000 innocent people were killed. If you get a chance to think while patriotic songs are being blasted over the radio, try to realize those people are just the latest additions to ever-increasing world death statistics. If we go to war, those numbers will only rise.
The United States is responsible for many unwarranted deaths in the name of protecting our interests·the same interests that gave me the privileged life I lead·the life I have taken for granted.
If I have to give up the benefits this lifestyle has given me in order to save innocent lives in the Middle East, then I will. I do not want to give up my life for this biased democracy, but I will give up my way of life for peace.
Innocent lives lost in the name of "democracy" produced the terrorists we face today.
Jessica Lee is an environmental science junior. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Would 'we' be willing to die for our cause?
Absolutely nothing can excuse or justify the attack on our country last week - not past foreign relations, not America's infatuation with capitalism, nothing. Despite the few of us who have been saying America "had it coming," nothing can justify the actions of Sept. 11.
But blowing a country to hell simply to vent anger accomplishes nothing. Beyond the argument that dropping a bomb on Kabul, Afghanistan would cause the loss of thousands of innocent lives, it just plain wouldn't do any good. Whether the United States is officially "going to war" or not, the fact remains that if our government is serious about eradicating terrorism, there won't be any quick fix.
It will take years, and perhaps decades, for our military - and perhaps militaries from America's allies - to go on various "search and destroy" missions. Eliminating these factions throughout the Middle East, most of which have nothing to do with their country's governing bodies, is no simple task.
Another important thing to keep in mind is this: Be wary of the use of the word "we" in describing America's armed forces. The U.S. military is an organization that has been neglected and treated poorly by the Clinton administration, and now many of us are expecting members of the military to be patriotic and take care of us. We all have to ask ourselves: If it came down to it, would each of us be willing to die for our cause? If the answer is "no," perhaps the word "we" shouldn't be used so loosely.
Shane Dale is a political science sophomore. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The death of the young in the hands of the old
Should we go to war? A simple yes or no response doesn't seem to be adequate, but perhaps it could be. A very strong part of me says no, wars are bad. The only guarantee that war supplies is death, in great abundance, and all of the things that attach to death. Tragically, it is most commonly the death of the young in the hands of the old.
But this part of me is na•ve.
I have another part that almost sees war as a necessity. We have to do it. We can't sit back and do nothing, hiding behind a shield of pacifism, or we will look like pushovers and leave the door wide open for more attacks.
Illustration by Josh Hagler
We have to send the message that these kinds of atrocities will not be tolerated; and, unfortunately, absolute and brutal force is the only thing we know of to deliver that message. It is the only message that our enemies will understand.
Some people say that music is the only genuine universal language. If that is true, then violence is its most vulgar and savage form; its rhythm is heard in bursts of gunfire, its melody in the howls of the fallen, and its harmony waits idly by for the handshakes and signatures of powerful men until the next dirge begins.
So I guess what I'm trying to say is: Should we go to war? No.
Must we go to war? It would appear so.
The real question is, if it comes down to it, would I go to war?
Zack Armstrong is a creative writing senior. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Know your enemy
We should remember, as we enter this conflict, that the United States will not be at war with a country as we have generally been in the past. Afghanistan is in the midst of a civil war with the de facto ruling party of their country, the Taliban. Theirs is not a power granted through a democratic election - theirs is a power granted through fear and terror.
If the government can take out the Taliban, wonderful; if they can take out Osama bin Laden and his terrorist organization, al Qaeda, great. But we must also consider many of the citizens of Afghanistan to be our allies, because they desire the destruction of the Taliban and bin Laden as much as we do. Thus, to simply attack the people of Afghanistan would be tantamount to attacking our friends and co-conspirators.
Military officials have made it a point to call this an "unconventional war," and if that's the case, we should be looking at ways to reduce senseless loss of life. One possibility to be considered is U.S. opposition to the Taliban within Afghanistan. In the past, we have not shied away from supporting rebel factions that fight our enemies, and we should not shy away now. If the rebels were successful, there would be more than one winner in this war - the United States and the people of Afghanistan.
Connor Doyle is a journalism senior. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.