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PEACE: Foreign Policy & Terrorism | September 18, 2001




An Unpublished Letter to Los Angeles Times 

Although Ronald Brownstein makes many valid observations in his column of September 17, he is dead wrong in asserting that we can fight this "War on Terror" as we did the Cold War.

Mr. Brownstein correctly notes that "there is no bunker, no base camp, nor even any city that America could destroy and truly feel it had eradicated this threat," as we could in World War II. Our enemies, however, do not share this limitation: The terrorists scatter like rats, but we are sitting ducks.

Despite Mr. Brownstein's proposition that the recent exposure of our vulnerability "may be the successor to the day the Soviets first tested an atomic weapon," thousands of innocent people were not slaughtered on our soil when that 20th Century experiment was conducted. This 21st Century incident was not a test. This war is not cold; this war is white hot.

Especially as chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons proliferate, we do not have the luxury of decades to prevail, as we did when war was kept cold. Unlike the Russians in the Cold War, the terrorists in this "clash of civilizations" are fanatically suicidal. In their view, a policy of Mutual Assured Destruction would be a godsend, delivering them to Paradise and us to Hell.

We must act wisely, not rashly. We must persevere through the long ordeals ahead, if we are to survive. But we must never forget that ultimately, as in Vietnam, time is the ally of our enemy.

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