Editorial: Recalling the lesson of September 11

September 11, 2003

On this, the second anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, we join other Americans in mourning the deaths of the more than 3,000 people who were killed in New York City, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., on that fateful day.

The deaths of thousands of innocent people at the hands of radical Islamic terrorists is an outrage that Americans must never forget - and never let happen again.

Clearly, on that awful day America was caught off-guard much as it was on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese war machine carried out its devastating attack on U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor. On September 11, 2001, as they had on December 7, 1941, Americans realized that movements unfolding in far-off places could reach America's shores with astounding force and consequences.

It was decided after September 11 that our country could no longer take a passive approach to terrorism, that it had to take the offensive, and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were undertaken by the Bush administration with the support of the U.S. Congress. Only now are we fully realizing the difficulty of the undertaking. Our superbly trained and armed military easily overthrew brutal regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, but changing those countries into places that will no longer be a breeding ground and sanctuary for terrorists has proven to be a much more difficult task.


Hence, the political debate over whether the Bush administration is on the right path in its effort to prevent "another September 11."

In his address to the nation Sunday night, President Bush described a struggle that "will take time and require sacrifice." He is asking Congress for $87 billion more to fight terrorism.

"We are fighting that enemy (Saddam Husseign loyalists and foreign terrorists) in Iraq and Afghanistan today, so that we do not meet him again on our own streets, in our own cities," he said.

The president's political opponents do not agree. Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, the current frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president, compares Iraq to Vietnam. "The government again is feeding misinformation to the American people in order to justify an enormous commitment of U.S. troops," Dean said this week following Bush's speech.

With the U.S. economy slowly recovering, the conduct of the war on terror is likely to be the defining issue of the 2004 presidential election. Those of us who support the way the Bush administration is protecting Americans from terrorism with military force abroad and security measures at home are tempted to tell his critics to just shut up, to support the president in a time of war - a war which began on September 11, 2001.

But the political debate over Iraq, the war on terrorism, the USA Patriot Act and other security issues is a healthy sign that our democracy is alive and well and that such disagreements can be worked out in our political system the way they always have - at the ballot box.

We are confident that Americans will vote to keep Bush in the White House in 2004. If they don't, we are equally confident that whoever wins will continue the fight against terrorism because the lesson of September 11 is that there is no alternative: America must never be caught off-guard again.

Central Kentucky News Articles