Everyone wonders how he will do it. After the speeches, after the congressional resolutions, after the statements of bipartisanship, what will President Bush announce as his plan to fight international terrorism? How can he bring the terrorists responsible for the World Trade Center and Pentagon assaults to justice?
Here's one suggestion.
President Bush should, in consultation with our allies, build a coalition similar to the one his father put together when he booted Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. But this coalition would be different.
This coalition would assemble a military force of at least one million ground troops, supported by air and sea forces. The President would then announce that we intend to capture and bring to justice anyone to whom credible evidence points as responsible for masterminding the terrorist attacks on Tuesday. He would also say that if any government refuses to turn over these people, we intend to come and get them. Anyone who gets in the way will be assumed to be a co-conspirator and will be dealt with as any other enemy in wartime.
The President should also say that this coalition will not be a one-time phenomenon, but that free nations everywhere intend to make it a permanent entity with the objective of opposing terrorism in any form when it threatens democratic nations. It would serve as the ultimate statement that terrorists can run but they can't hide. Secretary of State Colin Powell seemed to be saying as much during a Thursday news conference when he pledged to "rip up" the terrorist network, starting with the one that attacked the United States this week, but not stopping there.
Half-measures will not work and they will not convince the enemies of freedom that we mean business. The problem is not that we might overreact but that we will underreact, sending a signal to our foes that we aren't serious and that the price they will have to pay is worth their investment of a few suicidal religious fanatics.
The President, despite his and Vice President Dick Cheney's connection to the oil industry, must then announce a rapid and effective plan to make the United States independent of Arab oil producers. Once free of Arab oil, the United States will be free, indeed. No longer will these suppliers be able to pull America's chain and we can again do what's in the best interest of our country and people without worrying about $3-a-gallon gasoline. Whether through prospecting on our own soil, or developing synthetic fuels, the President can and should provide the leadership that cuts ends our dependency on Arab nations for most of our oil. Loss of the U.S. market would soon return these dictatorial states to the poverty they so richly deserve. Why should we send American dollars to people who hate us? Let them drown in their oil.
Then, the President should announce a plan to root out and expel those "cells," including "students," that can be linked to terrorist nations and terrorist causes. This would include offices and fronts of terrorist organizations currently operating in this country. We know who they are. Why should we tolerate a cancer among us? The President should act quickly while the level of indignation and outrage over Tuesday's attacks remains high. Opinion polls back him. They won't always. Just ask his father, who squandered an approval rating near 90 percent after the Gulf War.
America has been a nation with a unique culture, religion, government and economy. Attempts to ingratiate ourselves to people and nations who don't share those values and ideals has failed. Further attempts to placate them will only put more American lives at risk. One does not have to revert to isolationism to put America first.
Not to implement such a plan, or one like it, means we will inevitably repeat the horror of the past few days.
Does anyone have a better idea?