Perspectives Should We go to War? Georgetown University Students Respond

Address Underlying Causes

Though our less-than-Shakespearean commander in chief has spoken admirably these last weeks, he (and along with him, many Americans) persists in making two basic errors of judgement: (1) He paints those who hate America as “evil”; and (2) He claims these people hate the U.S. because they are jealous of American prosperity and democracy. Dubya should be smarter’n that. I hope that, amidst the pain, Americans can take a moment and with humble hearts reflect upon their role in the world, upon why many people hate America (not just terrorists but, on your average day, many of our friends and allies) and try to figure out how we can answer our critics not just by striking at them, but also by reforming our own behavior. If the U.S. responds to these attacks with war – and if it does, I shall give my support – we should also strive to understand why we were attacked in the first place. Something is there that doesn’t love a wall; our barriers will always be penetrable, and violent conflict, if is to be resolved, must be treated at its source.

– Keegan Pierce, SFS ’02

How Couldn’t We Go to War?

America constantly faces the threat of potential attack by terrorist forces armed with chemical and biological weapons and the will to kill. These murderers are motivated by a fanatical perversion of Islam and believe that by sacrificing their lives to the cause of killing innocent Americans they will be granted eternal rewards in heaven. The question asked by The Hoya is: Should America go to war? Faced with such an irrational and malicious foe, a better question to ask is how could we not? Anti-war protesters might cite the evil of war, or the hypocrisy of “lowering” ourselves to the terrorist’s level. However, even the most ardent pacifist should realize that by not “lowering” ourselves, we are putting all Americans and people anywhere in the world at imminent risk of attack and death. To not respond and thereby avoid war would both send a message that America cannot and will not defend itself and would allow terrorists to freely continue to do evil. We must act strongly and eliminate the threat of terrorism.

– Cory Meltzer, COL ’03

Irrationality is Also an Enemy

It is amazing how emotions can so quickly push reason to the side. The language of intellect and logic has been replaced by the words of rhetoric and hate. Our media and our president talk of retaliation, instead of justice. Of an attack on America, instead of an act of terrorism. They speak of America’s new war, instead of a campaign to end violence. The vast majority of us had our reason swept aside by a tide of extreme nationalism, spurred by flag-waving and big words spoken by our usually simple commander in chief. This new “war” is not one we can win. We should learn from the mistakes of Israel when we talk of retaliation and scare tactics. We should learn from our failed search for Noriega when we talk of the might of the American military and our ability to hunt down terrorism worldwide. It seems that our leaders have already let their emotions get the better of them and we must not applaud them, as many are, for their courage and resolve. Instead, we must let our voices be heard along with democratic people everywhere, to make sure justice, not retaliation, is done.

– Drew Johnson-Skinner, COL ’04

Military Action Yes, War No

Should America go to war? War. The word kindles images of armies: people muddied in trenches, dying in battle, flying, driving, firing, dying, even watching computer screens with fingers hovering over “launch” buttons. All of this may happen in America’s newly determined fight against terrorism. But is this War? No. War ends. Cities are liberated. Enemies surrender. Peace comes when war is over. None of these are likely to happen here. This may seem a trifling difference, but it is crucial. The idea – popular with columnists – that America can and should kill or imprison all who wish to do it harm is naive. ilitary action is satisfying, and warranted, but the greatest focus should be on altering the conditions that allow terrorism. This may involve military action, but it definitely involves more, and it is a struggle without end. Should America combat and work against terrorism? Yes. Should America go to war? No.

– Matt Bolger, MSB ’02

Promote Liberal Democracy

The big question on everyone’s mind isn’t “Should we go to war?” but rather, “Against whom, and toward what end?” After all, only the culpability of potential targets is seriously debated; we all accept the vague notion that “something must be done.” The solution can’t be to merely target a few replaceable terrorists. The solution must be some combination of carrots and sticks, as was our policy after World War II, to preserve order and civilization. In this context, this means building stable democratic governments and societies that value human rights where there are only ruins now, so that new terrorists do not emerge. Equally important, it means energetically eliminating all terrorists and oppressors everywhere who seek to terrorize other human beings, anywhere. Though we won’t do it overnight, we will succeed.

– Marc Gersen, SFS ’04

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