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Declare war or get off the pot

By Phillip J Hubbell
web posted October 29, 2001

Suppose they gave a war and nobody remembered how to fight one? What we have now is the United States announcing the war on terrorism and the rest of the world (with the exception of the United Kingdom) sitting back making demands on how it should be conducted. First and foremost is that idea that the United States must submit a list of people we are making war against and then take painstaking steps to avoid hurting anyone not on the list. We must also keep the calendar handy lest we attack the enemy on the religious holidays of our "allies" who are saying that the terrorists aren't really true Muslims. If they aren't true Muslims, why do the Muslim countries care when we attack them? Sometimes I think we are hearing that the terrorists aren't really true Muslims simply to keep some names off the list.

The list of people we are allowed to attack include the terrorists and the Taliban, but no civilians. In the United States, we do not make a distinction between our government and ourselves so it is hard for me to understand this. Are we saying that the 25 million people in Afghanistan are one entity and a few thousand clerics and their militias are another? Has anyone taken a poll among the Afghani people to see if they think the Taliban is the legitimate government of their land? If not, who is, if nobody, who would they like to see in that role? Since the people outnumber the Taliban several thousand to one, has anyone brought up the name of George Armstrong Custer?

When the United States was attacked by the Imperial Armed Forces of Japan, we declared war on Japan. We didn't make a distinction between the Japanese government and military and the Japanese people. We didn't drop food on Japan's cities, we dropped bombs. We didn't have a bunch of hand wringing journalists crying about how evil we were and making the two sides of the conflict equal. We had good guys (us) and bad guys (them) and anyone suggesting otherwise was a traitor. We had a national goal and that was winning. We didn't start the war trying to decide what we were going to do after it was over to help the Japanese or Germany. We bombed them into submission and then told them what they were going to do. We even wrote the Japanese constitution.

George W. BushGeorge W. Bush has become a great leader. For those of us who have followed his career and listened to his words, he was already a great leader, but the press hadn't been informed yet. Now everyone knows. Like all great leaders, President Bush is human and makes mistakes. The one major mistake he has made in this conflict is failing to ask Congress for a formal Declaration of War. This may come back and haunt the United States as we move forward and have to deal with all the second guessing, all the anti-Americanism here at home and all the silly political correctness that still allows people to enter the United States on temporary visas from terrorist countries to learn to fly airplanes.

People are also alarmed over the perceived loss of civil liberties. A Declaration of War would go a long ways towards eliminating a lot of that alarm. There would be an understanding that the United States would do what was necessary to win the war and at the end of the war, the civil liberties taken would be restored. Today, the measures being asked for and implemented are being signed into new law and are not being presented as temporary measures.

I believe that the solution to our current set of problems is to identify the countries that are harboring terrorist organizations or contributing to terrorism. We then should issue individual ultimatums, and when their turn comes, if they have not taken the necessary steps to remove the terrorists from their midst, they will either accept our help in taking these steps or the President should ask for a Declaration of War. While we are at it, perhaps we can quietly have the United Nations pack up and get the hell out of our country.

Phillip J Hubbell is the author of Write Winger: Solutions for the Politically Oblique available from

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