Please realize that what we’re about to say, we’re saying because we love you. We’re saying it because we share your concerns about the environment, reproductive freedoms, the war on drugs and so many other issues. We’re saying it because someone has to tell you, and we’d feel better if you heard it from us. You’d want us to tell you if you had spinach caught in your teeth, wouldn’t you?
OK, then, here it is: You’re missing the point on this terrorism thing. You’re acting as if this were another Panama, Grenada or Kuwait, and it’s not. You’re hauling out a lot of ’60s-era rhetoric that simply doesn’t apply. You’re making yourself look naive and unrealistic, and unless you stop, you’re going to marginalize yourself and all of the issues we both hold dear for the next eight years at least.
The Bush administration immediately understood that its response to the September 11 attack would be the defining issue of its tenure in the White House. We’re as surprised as you are by the fact that their immediate response was not a massive retaliation that would have been popular at home and a recruiting tool for terrorists abroad. Instead, they heightened security, assembled an impressive international coalition and engaged in strategic strikes aimed at disabling Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network and the Taliban regime that supports and shelters them.
We know how much you hate war. We’ve almost always agreed with you. But this time, we’ve been attacked, on our own soil, by a group whose stated purpose is simply to kill as many Americans and Jews as possible. They’re not offering to negotiate. They’re promising more attacks, and our only practical alternatives involve some degree of military action. You need to admit that. You need either to offer your qualified support, or come up with a plan of your own that has some possibility of preventing another September 11.
We know, we know: Terrorism comes partly as a result of wrongful U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and across the globe. Many of those policies need to change. But no policy change short of the complete abandonment of Israel would have even a chance of satisfying the Al Qaeda. You know we can’t do that.
You’ve argued that war is never the answer. We hear you on that one. We share your passion for nuclear disarmament and your outrage at the fact that our nation is the world’s biggest arms merchant. We admit that in Vietnam and many other situations, you were right. But this is different. This is self-defense. If we don’t disable the Al Qaeda, more Americans will die. It’s really that simple.
You need to realize that just as the Cold War defined American foreign policy in previous decades, terrorism will be the key issue in coming years. Unless you become more realistic, we’re going to cede the White House and Congress to the Republicans for the next decade. We’ll be marginalized, and we’ll all watch from the sidelines as the big decisions are made on Supreme Court appointments, global warming issues and international trade.
You don’t want that, do you? Then please, please think hard about this.