United States must be proactive

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 14, 2002

The one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks provided a reminder for all of us to reflect on the lives that were lost. The moment also should have provided us with a strong reminder of how much our world has changed.

Most of us still go to work, to school, to church, to the store and to various other locales without pausing to consider terrorist attacks. It's not wrong that we give little consideration to the possibility. It is, however, concerning that many of our fellow citizens, or citizens of other nations, still don't realize our country still faces the distinct possibility of future attack.

It's amazing how many Americans still don't understand the rules were forever changed on Sept. 11, 2001. Listen to the call-in talk shows on CNN for a day and you will be left confounded at how many of our countrymen believe we should wait for the next attack to happen before doing anything.

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What a ludicrous idea.

The old rules of military engagement simply do not apply in this new world. The outdated policy of waiting to reach to attacks must be replaced with a proactive policy -- one including preemptive military strikes.

This isn't to suggest the United States should impart its will on the people of other nations. It is to suggest the United States government has a responsibility to make sure the people of other nations do not impart their will on the people of the United States.

The United Nations, along with the rest of the world, must recognize the doctrines of the past no longer carry weight. The post-Sept. 11 world requires the United States to protect its citizens. Such protection must come in the form of taking out those who can do harm to the United States, before they have the opportunity to.

History is riddled with leaders -- including Adolph Hitler -- that should have been taken out long before they were able to grab power and impart harm. It's time we stop repeating the mistakes of the past.

Prior to Sept. 11, 2001, much discussion had centered on the opportunity for the United States to lead a new world -- a peaceful, global community. That dream may have been shattered by the events of Sept. 11, but the United States still has the opportunity to lead a new world bent on delivering peace by ridding the world of evil.

To achieve the goal we must be willing to recognize there are people and countries that remain credible threats to the safety of U.S. citizens, as well as others. These people and countries must be dealt with before they act.

The United States doesn't need world approval to take military action against nations possessing the ability and intending to do harm to Americans. If we have intelligence suggesting harm is possible, the United States needs to act. Any sensible nation should recognize we have the right to protect ourselves, just as others do.

Finally, the citizens of the world -- including some of our fellow citizens -- need to remember the United States is not the one promoting terror against other nations. The United States is responding to threat. Our response to such threats should come before the next shoe drops with, or without, the support of the rest of the world.