The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon today can be seen as nothing less than an act of war.
It is too early to take seriously a claim of responsibility by any specific terrorist group. It's even unlikely that the people who have struck these blows against our nation are going to make themselves easy targets. But this was such a sophisticated operation that U.S. intelligence sources will surely be able to assign responsibility.
When that happens, the United States will be justified in responding with the full force of this nation's military power.
At this writing it is still too early even to estimate the toll that these attacks have taken. The death toll will almost certainly include hundreds of passengers in the hijacked airplanes, other hundreds or even thousands in the Trade Center towers or on the ground and unknown civilian and military wor kers in the Pentagon.
The toll will also include, at least in the short term, the American way of life.
Today, office buildings are darkened in major cities from coast to coast, America's political leaders have been evacuated to safe havens, all commercial airliners have been grounded. A nation that suffered through an earlier attack on the World Trade Center and saw the front ripped off the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City now has a new and painful appreciation of the toll that terrorism can take.
And it is going to have to resolve to respond to this attack with all of its might.
Other democratic nations that value their way of life should see this attack on American soil for what it is, an attack on freedom-loving nations and open societies everywhere. All the world's citizens should recognize as pure barbarism the hijacking of airplanes and crashing them into buildings full of people who did nothing more than get up that morning and go to work, each with the expectation that they would see their loved ones at day's end.
Those who have declared war on the United States and the American people with these attacks should stifle any urge to celebrate. They have numbered their own days, because today's carnage will not go unavenged.