FLASHBACK:How Sorry They Will Be

Never has there been a more just cause for war.

The surprise attacks on the United States of America last Tuesday were not a latter-day Pearl Harbor. They were worse.

On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese came in warplanes and struck at military targets. However devious they were in launching that war against America, the Japanese fascists, after Pearl Harbor at least, stood ready to fight us in the open.

The terrorists who used hijacked commercial airliners to strike at the Pentagon and the World Trade towers last week hid among us, posing as friends, for weeks, months, perhaps even years. They enjoyed the freedom of our streets while plotting to destroy that freedom.

They targeted civilians and soldiers alike, deliberately murdering women and children, young and old.

The masterminds of these attacks remained, before and after, in the shadows. We can presume they privately reveled in their evil deeds even as they feared to take credit for them publicly.

They are among the greatest cowards in human history.

Remember Flight 93

And the coward’s message they are sending from seclusion into the bosom of every American home is: We will keep murdering your husbands and your wives, your children and your parents, until you succumb to our will.

Americans can make only one response to such a threat: We will not succumb. We will not retreat. We will not stop until we destroy you.

These terrorists discovered the spirit of America before their plot fully unfolded last Tuesday. It came alive aboard United Flight 93, bound from Newark to San Francisco.

It was on that flight that a diverse group of American men, having learned via cell phone that the World Trade towers had been destroyed, and having taken a vote among themselves on their course of action, decided to take the plane back from their hijackers or die trying.

America itself has now been hijacked, and the duty of all Americans is to take our country back.

In doing so we must be true to our own constitutional principles and moral values. Congress-which is discussing just such a resolution as this issue of Human Events goes to press-should take a vote formally authorizing the President to wage war against this enemy.

This vote will commit both political parties, both houses of Congress, the President, and most importantly, the nation itself, to running all the short-term risks and making all the long-term sacrifices necessary to achieve victory.

This vote will also be the first step toward not repeating the mistakes we have sometimes made in recent years when America suffered from similar, if vastly less devastating, assaults.

First, it will say that no crisis, let alone one precipitated by a gang of thugs, can shake the United States of America loose from the constitutional processes that for more than two centuries have sustained our freedom. And it is, without doubt, the authority and the duty of Congress, and Congress alone, to authorize war when war is necessary to preserve the security of this nation.

Second, it will say that America is not treating this as a matter of criminal justice, but, as President Bush has rightly said, an “act of war.” We will not bring our enemies to indictment and trial this time, we will bring them to defeat and death.

Third, it will say that America is not seeking mere reprisal against this attacker. We are not seeking to send him a message by bombing a pharmaceutical plant or firing a barrage of cruise missiles into an abandoned base camp. We are seeking to find him personally, and all his lieutenants, and allies, and sponsors and supporters, and permanently eradicate them as threats to our nation.

Fourth, it will say that America is united and unshakably committed to this cause.

It is clear that once again our enemies have underestimated us. They have judged-perhaps from the apparent unwillingness of America to suffer casualties in arguably unnecessary wars, where there was no vital threat to American families or their liberty-that we had become a nation so morally irresolute we would no longer defend ourselves with all the righteous fury of a great power greatly wronged.

How wrong they are. How sorry they will be.