War against Terrorism
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A Most Effective Enemy

Joseph Sheppard

E017RedCross_Time11-10-03.jpg - 47614 Bytes

A new phase of terroism in Iraq targets Red Cross, the UN and international hotels.
Time, November 10, 2003
The war against terrorism began on September 11, 2001, as a result of the barbarous murder of thousands of unsuspecting civilians on United States soil. The war in Iraq, after its inception almost seven months ago, has now entered a truly terrorist phase. All means and targets are fair game to the anarchists who oppose stabilization and peace in Iraq. The Red Cross, mosques, the UN, and hotels are targets, as are the military of the coalition forces. With such a blatant display of intimidation by ruthless terrorists, how can it be that support for our labors in Iraq is weakening?

There are several factors causing this waning of support of the war in Iraq.

First, the nature of the attacks cause those with little resolve and confidence to despair. Such fearful souls ask: How can one fight against an unseen opponent or one willing to annihilate himself in order to harm others? Is the next approaching ambulance carrying injured persons or a bomb? Where along the road ahead does an ambush await us?

Second, there are those who want to believe that terrorists can be appeased. These naive individuals believe that if we stop fighting so desperate a foe, that they also will cease fighting. This is just one of the lies that these morally-blinded Islamic zealots wish us to believe. Imagine if we took up this attitude in our daily spiritual warfare. To surrender in the face of adversity would not only be cowardice, but would provide ample proof to the agents of terror that their methods are successful.

Third, a constant barrage of anti-war propaganda is readily available in our own newspapers, magazines and televison reports. This is perhaps the primary reason for the current rethinking of our situation in Iraq. It is lamentable that some consider major network news a substitute for a well-rounded education (this would be a good subject for a future commentary).

Certainly, no one lightly dismisses the loss of lives of our, soldiers, but to read the headlines of the mainstream press, one would think that war can be waged with no casualties. A headline such as “U.S. Soldier Dies In Iraq As Bush Says ‘No Retreat’” may be factual, but is designed to convey a message of hopeless irony. Only the negative aspects of the present situation in Iraq are discussed in most news venues. The unsupportive and critical voices in the media only serve to embolden our enemies. Such a clear attempt to undermine the difficult, dangerous, and necessary work of the brave members of our military recently caused one officer to state that the news media has the blood of American soldiers on its hands.

Fourth, there are those who claim they support the troops, but are opposed to our being in Iraq. Hopefully, these individuals will come to realize that one cannot both support the troops and be opposed to their accomplishing their mission. Although anyone is free to criticize the decisions of the Commander-In-Chief of our armed forces, one cannot at the same time claim to be supporting the troops he commands, unless one thinks that the goals of the soldier and his commander are different. This is not a likely scenario since the soldiers fighting in Iraq are volunteers, not conscripts. The only reasons for claiming to support the troops and not their commander are:
1. to give a false appearance of patriotism, and/or,
2. to cause a division between the commander and those commanded that will encourage doubt and dissent.
Finally, we live in a country of great material wealth and a relatively comfortable standard of living. We are fighting a war in which only some are required to make heroic sacrifices. While our military personnel and their loved ones do their part, most continue to live each day as before 9/11, while experiencing an economic boom. Manufacturing inventories are up, consumer spending is rising, so a generally optimistic mood prevails. Although we are fortunate to be blessed with such material wealth, we must not take it for granted or desire it above all things. When we develop an inordinate love of material things we become like the child that has eaten too much candy. We become ill, spiritually. We lose, supposing we ever had it, a desire to fight against evil. We lose that heroic spirit exemplified in Our Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross. We run the risk of becoming like so many Pilates, washing our hands of the responsibility to fight for the truth. If the fight suddenly threatens our comfort, we have second thoughts about its necessity.

In summary, the greatest enemy in the war against terrorism is to be found within our own citizenry. When voices within our own country are espousing the same rhetoric as the terrorists, and allowing themselves to be intimidated by their methods, we have the most effective means of defeat at our doorsteps. This is not the time to give up the fight. Like it or not, the front line in the war against terror is presently in Iraq. Now is the time to show all who wish to deny legitimate freedoms by means of terror that they will not succeed.

Posted November 13, 2003

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