Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


No choice but war

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

– John Stewart Mill

I stopped in to see my mom earlier this week, and was surprised to see tears in her eyes after only a few minutes of conversation. After inquiring what was wrong, she admitted the prospect of war scared her greatly, especially since my brother and I are both of prime military age.

I assured her the seemingly inevitable military action would not necessitate a draft, but as I drove back to Madison, the thought lingered in my mind.

“What if the draft was re-instituted? What would I think then about this so-called war?”

The feelings of many on this campus are already obvious. At last Friday’s political rally, masquerading as a “Time of Remembrance,” speaker after speaker pleaded for peace, claiming violence is never the answer.

But what if violence is the answer — the lesser of two evils?

Last week, every single American lost the myth of protection brought by the Pacific and Atlantic. Terrorists killed thousands with stunning ease and efficiency. Clearly, the simplicity of movement, access, and the “right to be left alone” — freedoms we so often take for granted — made the operation relatively simple to plan, train for, and execute.

So it is that one way to prevent such further attacks is to severely restrict these freedoms. We could require documentation and a background check for virtually any activity remotely useful to terrorists. We could racially profile those of Middle-Eastern descent, or anyone wearing a turban or shawl. The possibilities — chances to trample our civil liberties — are endless.

But if we choose this route and are somehow successful in preventing future terrorist acts, have we really won the war on terrorism? Or will we have silently and passively lost the things that make America great?

Of course, it is easy to say we will never give up our freedoms, but that still leaves the issue of preventing future terrorist attacks.

Appeasement will not stop those who would kill thousands of civilians simply for being American. Changing our policy in any area of the world or acquiescing to whatever demands terrorists may make would only invite more attacks and threats — in effect, our country is being held for ransom.

Nor would the cessation of or apology for alleged U.S. injustices around the world do the trick. The worst U.S. actions committed in Third World nations in the depth of the Cold War are not even remotely morally equivalent to the evil done last Tuesday. For all our missteps, we have never killed civilians for simply being citizens. To suggest our actions caused the terrorists to act, and by extension, that ending those actions will end the terrorism is absurd.

The only other possibility is war.

If it can be proven that last Tuesday’s actions were state-sponsored, then the answer is obvious. That country must be treated no differently than an enemy in a conventional war, for by attacking the United States they themselves have declared war.

But it is probable that last week’s attacks were the actions of a relatively small group of terrorists motivated by their hatred and ideology, not by the orders of a nation-state. That is why some argue against military action, stating it is unfair to hold a country responsible for an action that was not sponsored by that country.

But the truth is that some country at some point will be responsible. There is no spot on this planet not controlled by a nation-state. So when we determine who was responsible for these attacks and where they are located, the country sheltering the terrorists will have a choice. Either extradite the alleged terrorists, or do not extradite them. Should the country choose the latter, it would be irresponsible to view such action as anything less than support of the declaration of war by the terrorists, a stance worthy of our most vigorous response.

Should our action against such a country be to the utmost of our capabilities, would any other country dare shelter such terrorists again? Although anyone that would kill 5,000 civilians is beyond reason, most heads of state are not.

We have two options for dealing with terrorism. The first is to deny our freedoms in a probably futile attempt to prevent such atrocities from happening again. The other is war.

Even if I were to be drafted, I would still choose war. What is life if we do not have anything worth dying for?

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *