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LET'S RALLY 'ROUND OUR AMERICAN FRIENDS



Published: Fri, September 14, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Toronto Globe and Mail: The stereotypes of New Yorkers as pushy, rude or self-absorbed have been shattered this week. Tuesday's terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center have brought out the very best in New York, in America as a whole, and we pay tribute to their bravery and generosity in the face of disaster.

It is natural at a chaotic time for many individuals to watch from afar and feel there is nothing they can do to make a difference. Thankfully, many in New York and elsewhere have avoided this easy helplessness by pitching in to make themselves useful. Stories abound of New York construction workers pouring down to the disaster site to help move rubble, of citizens lining up to give blood or donate money to the Red Cross, of medical personnel from outside New York showing up to help, of nearby residents going door to door to collect food and dry clothes for exhausted rescue workers.

Rescue workers: The especially heroic response, of course, came from rescue workers, so many of whom died in an instant on Tuesday morning. These firefighters, police officers, ambulance drivers and many others acted without hesitation to rush into those burning towers to find workers and lead them outside. As many as 300 of these people died when the buildings collapsed on top of them, the largest loss of life of rescue personnel in American history. Stunningly, those still alive rushed back to comb the wreckage for victims despite enormous dangers of fire, dust and further building collapse. Even yesterday, workers streamed back over the rubble despite worries of engineers about the structural soundness of surrounding towers.

How can we pay tribute to this selflessness? Perhaps the best way to honor a commitment to serve others is for each of us to make a personal pledge to do something to help wherever it's needed, and silently dedicate that gift to those who have died.

The question, meanwhile, arises about what the nations of the world can do to help. The initial response has been swift and decisive. NATO members agreed yesterday to invoke Article 5 of the alliance's charter -- never previously triggered -- requiring allies to support any military operation in response to an attack on a member country.

NEW WAR NEEDS PRECISION -- AND ALLIES

Detroit Free Press: America has been dragged through fire and blood into a new world war where victories will not be clean, quick or easy. There is no high ground in a war against terrorism. It is not waged Persian Gulf-style, with overwhelming force, nor entirely from the air, the way Yugoslavia was subdued.

The weapons for this war will be information, speed and the same relentless commitment that has been demonstrated by America's enemies. It is a war that will require patience and precision -- not exactly the American way.

It is a war that will require allies, too, including those nations with far more expertise in rooting out terrorist cells. Even as these nations send America their condolences, they must also welcome at last a significant American commitment to rid the globe of this plague.

NATO allies, who called upon America to subdue the Balkans conflict that threatened European security, said as much Wednesday by adopting a resolution endorsing America's new, warlike attitude. NATO said, in effect, that if the United States can show that Tuesday's stunning terrorist strikes were directed from abroad, they will be regarded as attacks on the entire 18-nation alliance -- invoking NATO's all-for-one, one-for-all principles of engagement. At the very least, this means that if the United States goes after terrorists abroad, NATO nations will cede their airspace and get out of the way.

Arab states: Similar accord must be pursued with the Arab states, which relied on the United States to chase Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait; with Russia, which seeks U.S. economic aid; with China and other Asian nations, which covet American trade and, in some cases, rely on American protection. It's time to call in some chits.

National leaders keep talking about Tuesday's terror strikes as "acts of war." With the American public hungry for vengeance, Congress stands ready to spend pretty much whatever it takes to wage war back. But for this war, fighting smart and persistently will be more important than fighting big. America has attempted bold strokes in response to past terrorism, with little effect.

A SHOW OF POLITICAL UNITY

Dallas Morning News: If the terrorists who struck America harbored any hopes of dividing this nation, they operated from a very false assumption. From New York to Washington, from Capitol Hill to Dallas, our elected officials so far have responded with resolve, calm and, most important, unity.

The early displays of solidarity were crucial: President George W. Bush and congressional leaders sat as one Wednesday in the Cabinet Room. No Republicans. No Democrats. Just Americans.

The unity was palpable on Tuesday when legislators spontaneously sang "God Bless America" before the Capitol. There was Phil Gramm next to Hillary Clinton, Dick Armey alongside Maxine Waters, and Kay Granger holding hands with Carrie Meek. Whatever their differences, they stood as one. The scene was reminiscent of the GOP isolationist Sen. Arthur Vandenberg saying after Pearl Harbor, we no longer have any isolationists./p

Symbols of the presidency: President Bush has wisely used the symbols of the presidency to reassure Americans about our democracy's strength. Speaking from the Oval Office. Convening the Cabinet. Meeting with Congress. We are reminded at such points that the presidency is as much about theater as about policy.

This moment, of course, provides Mr. Bush his first and, one hopes, largest presidential test. He and his staff must find the right language to "manage the stampede," as University of Texas at Austin professor Bruce Buchanan aptly describes the psychology unleashed after Tuesday's attack. This is Mr. Bush's Pearl Harbor and Cuban Missile Crisis rolled into one.

Americans should consider, however, that President Bush is more Harry Truman than Franklin Roosevelt or John F. Kennedy. The latter presidents used soaring rhetoric to their advantage during crises. Like Mr. Truman, Mr. Bush eschews highfalutin language. He prefers to move in a crisp, businesslike way. In these uncertain times, that may prove a strength, not a weakness. Those who doubt Mr. Bush's gravitas should not underestimate his resolve or his seriousness as a leader.

New York's Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has rebounded from his personal woes to rally his city, America's showcase. The mayor calmly but directly urged New Yorkers on Tuesday to vacate lower Manhattan, even if they must abandon their cars and simply walk north. He continues to provide a strong core for the city as it works through unspeakable grief.

Courage: This danger may not be past, so America's leaders must continue to speak as one. Though many may disparage politicians during times of business as usual, it is in these times of distress that our elected leaders can provide judgment and courage. We need them to navigate through matters of life and death.

NOW IT'S OUR TURN

Philadelphia Daily News: Revenge.

Hold on to that thought.

Go to bed thinking it. Wake up chanting it.

Because nothing less than revenge is called for today.

Give this to our enemies: It was a brilliant, coordinated attack. The targets were icons of America's might: the World Trade Center, which sits in the financial heart of the United States, and the Pentagon, the headquarters of our military. The weapons used were our airliners, filled with our fellow countrymen who, at knifepoint, were made part of the payload.

The image of United Flight 175 slamming into the World Trade Center will stay in our nightmares and the nightmares of our children. The knowledge that our fellow citizens jumped to their deaths rather than burn in the twin towers will haunt us. The smell of the fires from the Pentagon will linger long after the smoke clears. And the grief for our dead will be deep and enduring.

But give this to us, the people of the United States: We will recover. We will bury our dead and then, with unwavering resolve, we will go after the villains.

Deadly response: We will demand nothing less than a full and deadly response. We have been merciful in the past with the terrorist thugs who have attacked this country. We have condemned them and imposed economic sanctions, but we have not hunted them down with murder in our eyes.

Tuesday's attacks, however, amount to a declaration of war against the United States, a sneak attack even more devastating than the one on Pearl Harbor 50 years ago. At least the Japanese were honorable enough to attack a military target. This time, our enemies went after civilians, among them children.

In war, there are casualties. We had our number Tuesday. It is time to inflict casualties of our own. And it shouldn't be "proportional" or just enough to send a "message." Our response should be the final word.

To the cowardly zealots responsible, know this: Do not judge our commitment to your destruction by the strangely careful and neutral tone of President Bush's speech Tuesday night. His speech did not begin to capture the righteous anger American citizens are feeling right now.

Rage: In the days that are coming, as the dead are finally counted, our rage will only build. And everytime we look at the skyline of New York City, or step into an airplane, or turn our calendars to nine, one-one, we will remember your actions, and crave only one thing: blood for blood.

Tuesday belonged to you. You hurt us the way you had hoped.

But tomorrow will belong to us.




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