Wake up Georgetown!

The United States of America is going to war. No peace march or protest or worries about a wave of crimes against Muslims in America or even fear of heightened terror are going to stop the war machine from getting started. If you won’t take my word, find a copy of President Bush’s speech to Congress last Thursday.

This process is going to take years and a whole lot of blood is going to be spilled before anything is resolved: blood of al Qaeda, blood of the Taliban, blood of American soldiers and blood of American victims of future terror. These are the plain and slightly frightening facts of the current course of world affairs – we must not ignore them.

Another ghastly reality is that as members of al Qaeda are caught and killed, it is quite possible that, until the propaganda and training institutions are destroyed, their orphaned sons and favorite cousins will take their places with increased fervor. And I am only starting to delve into the really scary possibilities. Imagine a suicide attacker who pledges his life to mixing up and distributing a batch of biological weapons before he succumbs to their effects. Imagine a poisoned water supply. Imagine power grids going out for a hospital. Imagine the free-for-all of electronic financial records being erased, etc.

An unfortunate inheritance of the 20th century is the very real possibility that small groups of people can use technologically advanced weapons that, if craftily applied, will harm many thousands of people. I think that people on the campus of Georgetown University are drastically underestimating the seriousness and danger of this new fight that is only just beginning.

What really disturbs me is not so much the underestimation of this problem, as it is the weak reaction I have found in talking with people and in the Georgetown press. Everyone thinks something should be done. But most people I have talked to don’t actually seem too keen on doing it themselves: Support military action, yes; agree with a draft, no. Meanwhile, the campus literary outlets are concerned with helping me “cope” with the “tragedy” of Sept. 11. They are eager to help me fight “the backlash” and all of them are vigorously defending the moral high ground in their denouncements of violence against uslims and Muslim-Americans. All laudable, but I haven’t yet seen one article that expresses adequately the rage many of us feel. Nor have I heard much talk about how I, individually, as a student of Georgetown University, can help America win this fight.

But most importantly of all, I hope that others will realize what I am beginning to suspect will become more and more apparent to the nation: This “campaign against terrorism” is going to be long and hard, if the United States is going to win it UST commit its most precious resources of all – the full abilities, energies and even lives of the extremely bright young men and women who attend top-notch universities like Georgetown.

“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what can you do for your country.” Each and every person probably has a different answer. And God willing, hopefully the call for many thousands of us to join this fight will never be made. But for now, I ask anyone who might be reading this to take a moment and think about it. If you are like me, perhaps you won’t find the answer outright. The government certainly hasn’t helped us figure out what to do or where to join. Sometime soon the United States of America may need us anyway.

Morgan E. Pietz graduated from the School of Foreign Service in 1999.

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